Little Rock God knows, Americans don’t like to be herded. Whoever came up with the term “herd” immunity, did us no favors! On the other hand, there’s every sign that mandatory vaccination policies actually work, even in the land of the free, home of the stubborn.
As New York State hospital, homecare, and nursing home workers hit the mandatory deadline this week, on the eve of the date the rate of vaccination at some level jumped from 84% to 92%. Where there had been a worry of a vax-apocalypse with a shortage of 70,000 healthcare workers and a mobilized National Guard, now officials are saying they are close enough to believe that they can make it. They still may need help, but are away from the brink. Employers aren’t being dumb either. Rather than terminating workers, they are putting them on leave, which gives them a way to wise up, get a shot, and come back to work with some semblance of pride in their position, even if wrongheaded. All of which makes it a safe bet that the percentage will soon nudge forward from 92, as well. In another New York-based victory for mandatory vaccinations, a federal appeals court held that teachers in fact can be mandated to get the shots. We’ll see where that goes.
Our union has asked that our healthcare and school-based employers not hire any new workers who have not been vaccinated or agree to be so asap. There’s every sign that this is also become popular around the country. The employment seeking operation, Indeed, reports that there has been a huge jump in pre-hire vaccination requirements in their listings, for example.
Unionized employers, like United Airlines and AT&T, are doing the right thing and negotiating agreements for mandatory vaccinations with their unions. AT&T announced that it is requiring vaccinations for any public-facing workers or remote workers. The union was able to get a very long runway before the axe would fall: February. Reportedly, AT&T and the Communications Workers of America were not able to finally come to agreement, so when impasse was reached, the company unilaterally implemented the policy. Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out later that this was an okey-doke deal, where the company agreed to be the “bad” guy and let the union off the hook without agreeing in order to use them more aggressively to encourage workers to be vaxxed. I could be wrong, but I would almost bet on it.
Worrying to me, now that we see the mandatory policy working, is that despite the whoop and holler from the president requiring federal workers and contractors, there is still no “drop dead” date. Everyone is waiting on the Department of Labor to promulgate the rule. Too bad, there’s foot dragging. Now’s the time, and both companies and unions, need the feds to lead on this so that they can follow as best they can.