Business groups ask Biden administration to delay vaccine mandate

Business groups ask Biden administration to delay vaccine mandate
© AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File

Business groups are asking the Biden administration to delay the upcoming coronavirus vaccine mandates for private companies until after the holiday season. 

The National Retail Federation, the American Trucking Associations and the Retail Industry Leaders Association are asking the White House to give businesses 90 days to comply, which would pause implementation until no earlier than late January, CNBC reported.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is also asking to delay the implementation of the rule until after the holiday season, the outlet reported. 

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In an interview with CNBC after meeting with the administration on Monday, Retail Industry Leaders Association President Evan Armstrong warned that the mandate could trigger resignations at places already facing staffing issues.  

“It has been a hectic holiday season already, as you know, with supply chain struggles,” Armstrong told the outlet. “This is a difficult policy to implement. It would be even more difficult during the holiday season.”

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is currently developing a rule requiring private employers with at least 100 employees to require coronavirus vaccines or weekly testing. Businesses that fail to comply with the rule could face penalties of up to $14,000 per violation.

The rule was delivered to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on Oct. 12 and is currently in the final stages of review. The agency held meetings on Monday regarding the rule, and several more are lined up for Tuesday and Wednesday.

Chris Spear, the president and CEO of the American Trucking Associations, similarly warned that the mandate will “create a workforce crisis for our industry and the communities, families and businesses we serve.”

Earlier this month, a survey from the Society for Human Resource Management found that nearly 9 in 10 large employers fear that their unvaccinated workers would quit over the vaccine mandate. 

The news comes amid warnings from industry groups last week that Biden's COVID-19 vaccine mandate could exacerbate the nation's supply chain issues, a threat to business that could lead to depleted shelves during the holiday season. 

The deadline for federal employees and contractors to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19 is Dec. 8. 

In a letter to the White House, the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors (NAW) warned that distribution companies would not be able to vaccinate their employees by Dec. 8. Many of the companies are federal contractors. 

“Come December, many companies will be unable to keep products moving through their warehouses and distribution centers to satisfy growing consumer demand if forced to terminate these essential workers,” the group wrote. 

When asked about delaying the vaccination deadline for federal employees and contractors last week, White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiSymone Sanders to leave the White House at the end of the year GOP sets back Biden's vaccine mandates amid omicron Fauci 'not aware' Trump tested positive for COVID-19 days before 2020 debate MORE told reporters that the administration doesn't anticipate labor shortages as a result of the mandates. 

"As we work to implement these federal employee requirements, the first step is not firings; it’s actually education and counseling. We don’t actually anticipate these disruptions," Psaki said last week. She noted that vaccination rates for companies increased from 20 percent to 90 percent. 

--Updated at 11:42 a.m.