Despite hold on Biden’s vaccine mandate, Illinois manufacturers brace for impact


Manufacturers and other large businesses across the state are still waiting on answers about who will have to pay for weekly COVID-19 tests after President Joe Bident’s vaccine mandate got held up by a federal court over the weekend.

Biden mandated all employers of more than 100 employees require vaccination status. For employees not vaccinated, they must mask and take weekly tests. He ordered the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue the emergency rules in September. OSHA published the rules Friday.

A federal judge in Louisiana issued an emergency stay on the mandate pending legal action.

Louisiana businessman Brandon Trosclair, with assistance from the Liberty Justice Center, a public interest law firm, and the New Orleans-based Pelican Institute for Public Policy, also filed the lawsuit.

Illinois Manufacturers' Association President and CEO Mark Denzler said the industry supports vaccination. Mandating that with tracking and reporting requirements is a different issue.

“This is a costly, confusing, cumbersome rule and we believe that every employer should be able to control their workplace and make decisions based on their unique circumstances,” Denzler said.

He said if the mandate goes through, it will likely mean some manufacturing employees seek work elsewhere.

“We think that this is going to have a significant impact on the workforce,” Denzler said. “I actually heard from a member company this morning who's concerned about losing employees that would leave his company over the mandate who would go work for smaller employers.”

The mandate is going to be costly for employers to gain compliance. That doesn’t include having to possibly find tests they may need each week, Denzler said.

“It’s not easy to find a number of tests and if you have to test 100-plus employees every week, trying to find those tests is difficult right now,” Denzler said.

Whether testing costs are picked up by the employee or the employer in Illinois is still unclear. Denzler said they’re waiting for answers.

“Back in 2018, the General Assembly passed changes to the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act that requires employers to reimburse employees any expense incurred in their job,” Denzler said.

For manufacturers that make goods for federal contracts, Denzler said Biden’s mandate doesn’t allow a testing option.

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