NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The highly anticipated vaccine mandate has arrived from President Joe Biden’s administration.
He directed The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to craft a rule that addresses the danger of COVID-19 in the workplace. OSHA is the federal agency that oversees workplace safety.
OSHA responded with establishing workplace COVID-19 vaccination verification, masking, and testing requirements.
Lawmakers in Tennessee are responding to President Biden’s COVID-19 workplace vaccine mandates for companies with 100 or more employees.
Speaker Cameron Sexton, who was the architect of a special session restricting COVID-19 mitigation measures that limited business abilities to respond to the disease, said on Twitter this is a first for the country.
Tennessee requires a number of the vaccinations the House Speaker wrote about, like smallpox, to enter schools.
The TN GOP tried to stamp out any vaccine requirements or federal mandates in this past weekend’s special session.
“I’ve heard from a lot of people these bills took direct aim at the safety of our school children and the rights of private business owners,” said Rep. John Clemmons, (D) District 55.
The federal government said the OSHA rule is designed to restrict states’ power. “In particular, OSHA intends to preempt any state or local requirements that ban or limit an employer’s authority to require vaccination, face covering, or testing.”
Clemmons added, “Private business owners just want to do what is best and safest for their employees and their consumers. And what the Republicans in the state legislature did was directly threaten their ability to do that, and threaten the economy of the state of Tennessee.”
Meanwhile, Tennessee’s attorney general has joined others in filing a lawsuit to challenge the federal mandate, a move that Tennessee’s Governor Bill Lee approves of.
“I believe that it’s unconstitutional to require it,” said Lee.
Tennessee’s Department of Labor responded to the new rule with this statement:
“Tennessee OSHA is currently reviewing the latest OSHA emergency temporary standard regarding vaccines in the workplace. As the agency did with the prior (emergency temporary standards) ETS, staff will review the OHSA standards and then determine how Tennessee will move forward. This process could take multiple weeks to complete.”
This new rule impacts roughly 84 million workers and employers would be required to pay employees for the time missed getting vaccinated.
Additionally, there are testing options, but that does not apply to federal contractors or sub-contractors.