Tuesday, January 11, 2022
I am sure you are all aware of an email from the Company on Friday communicating the Company’s obligation to comply with the Occupational Safety & Health Administration’s (OSHA) Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS). Very generally, the ETS says that the Company must collect information about employees’ vaccination status by January 10, 2022, and then—starting on February 9, 2022—ensure that employees are either fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergoing weekly COVID-19 testing.
While we cannot force the Company to bargain over federal legal mandates, we are, however, able to negotiate the discretionary aspects of the ETS as well as its effects on the members. Such topics would include, but not necessarily be limited to, the type of test allowed, the process for submitting the test, who covers the costs, etc.
At this point, I have demanded that the Company negotiate with us over all of these items before any implementation takes effect. We expect to start those discussions late this week. Please remember that these items are those that are discretionary (those where there is a different option, or are not required by ETS) or deal with the effects of the Standard’s implementation.
There are lots of questions as to how all this will work, and at this point, we do not have those answers. In the Company’s communication some of these items were included in the policy, but these were not negotiated with us prior to the policy going out so we will have to sort that out.
You may know that the US Supreme Court has been reviewing this topic and may temporarily halt or invalidate the ETS—if it does, we have demanded that the Company retract the policy. But until and unless that happens, we will have to move forward as if the ETS will remain in effect.
Through this process, we will be exercising what influence is available to us to meet the interests of everyone affected. We are not sure how long things may take, or what the ultimate outcome will be, but we wanted you to know we are involved and advocating for our members the whole way.