FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 14, 2022
Media Contact: Melanie Stratton-Lopez;
CDM denounces SCOTUS decision to halt Vaccination and Testing Requirement ETS for Large Employers
We are appalled by the Supreme Court’s decision to block the Biden-Harris Administration’s vaccine-or-test rule. The rule would have required large employers to ensure that their employees were vaccinated or wore masks and tested weekly. While the rule wasn’t perfect, it was a positive step towards instituting health and safety practices BIPOC workers across industries and immigration status have been demanding. The Court’s decision could not have come at a worse time, as the Omicron variant surges through workplaces across the country, case numbers soar, and hospitals face unprecedented demand for emergency services. The rule would have protected 80 million workers. And it would have saved lives.
Throughout the pandemic, a disproportionate number of workers who have fallen ill and died from the virus causing COVID-19 are from immigrant and migrant communities. These communities often have limited access to healthcare and work in industries with low wages and well-documented histories of abuse. Even worse, workers who have courageously spoken out about outbreaks in their workplaces have suffered retaliation by employers, unlawful firings, loss of immigration status, and removal. An ETS showed some promise.
This decision is a step back and painful betrayal of all workers, their families, and communities. The unsigned majority opinion politicizes science, undermining public health by stripping the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of its ability to protect workers from grave danger during a national emergency. All branches of government owe a critical debt to workers.
We rally with workers in urging states to implement comprehensive protections. Workers’ health should not depend on the goodwill of employers. Additionally, OSHA should take this opportunity to move forward with promulgating an infectious disease standard. At the minimum, such a standard should guarantee comprehensive engineering and administrative controls, personal protective equipment, like respirators, job protection, paid medical removal, and adequate ventilation for all workers. An infectious disease standard should also require vaccination for workers who work in especially cramped, crowded working conditions like those faced by migrant agricultural workers and protein processing workers.
We need enforceable legal protections now.