Following the Supreme Court’s decision to block President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for businesses with 100 employees or more, General Electric has suspended its enforcement of the COVID-19 policy.
GE has a workforce of more than 174,000 employees. Therefore the company is one of many that would’ve had to enforce the vaccine mandate. Previously, GE encouraged its thousands of employees to take the vaccine. In October, the company also announced its intentions to follow through with the vaccine mandate to comply with federal regulations.
One month prior, the Biden administration implemented the sweeping measures. Following the president’s orders, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) detailed further specifics for private companies. If the Supreme Court wouldn’t have blocked the vaccine mandate, it would’ve impacted one-third of the nation’s workers.
The justices voted 6-3 on Thursday to block the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate. However, Biden still urged businesses to stick to the mandates on their own. He also urged officials at the state level to “do the right thing” and mandate vaccines in some form. The conservative justices claimed Biden’s orders are too broad, but seemed receptive to more specific, targeted mandates.
As of now, 13 states have placed bans or limits on vaccine mandates, including Texas, Florida, and Arizona. In contrast, companies such as Amtrak, Macy’s, and Starbucks have already revealed their own vaccine policies for their employees.
Supreme Court Upholds Vaccine Mandate For Healthcare Workers
The Supreme Court blocked the business-related vaccine mandate. But the justices did allow similar mandates for healthcare workers to go into effect. The high court passed the healthcare worker mandate 5-4, with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh as the deciding votes.
On Thursday afternoon, President Biden addressed the Supreme Court’s decision. He called their ruling on private businesses “disappointing.” Additionally, he applauded their decision to uphold the healthcare worker mandate saying that it “will save lives.”
“This emergency standard allowed employers to require vaccinations or to permit workers to refuse to be vaccinated, so long as they were tested once a week and wore a mask at work: a very modest burden,” the president said.
“As a result of the Court’s decision, it is now up to States and individual employers to determine whether to make their workplaces as safe as possible for employees,” he added.
Democrat-led states like New York can still implement and uphold their own vaccine mandates. States that don’t have the orders in place are free to decide if they’ll implement the mandates or not. On the other hand, Republicans have celebrated the high court’s decision claiming it’s an overreach by OSHA. Yet Labor Secretary Marty Walsh has vowed to utilize OSHA’s existing authority to hold businesses accountable for protecting workers.
“We urge all employers to require workers to get vaccinated or tested weekly to most effectively fight this deadly virus in the workplace. Employers are responsible for the safety of their workers on the job,” Walsh said in a statement.