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Major U.S. car makers announce they will not impose vaccine mandates

General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler announced that unionized workers will not be required to be vaccinated, but on-site masking will still be required.

Vaccinations will not be required for unionized Ford, General Motors workers.
Vaccinations will not be required for unionized Ford, General Motors workers. | David Jancik

November 27, 2021 2:04am

Updated: November 27, 2021 2:04am

In a joint statement issued on Wednesday, General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler announced they will withhold vaccine mandates for thousands of employees but will require on-site masking after negotiations with the United Auto Workers (UAW) union.

Although the declaration encourages unionized workers to report their vaccination status, reporting is discretionary.

“The Task Force continues to urge all members, coworkers, and their families to get vaccinated and get booster vaccinations against COVID, while understanding that there are personal reasons that may prevent some members from being vaccinated, such as health issues or religious beliefs,” the statement read.

The Biden Administration, however, has been pushing for companies to impose vaccine mandates in order to fight the spread of the virus.

On Tuesday, the White House asked a federal appeals court to lift an order halting vaccination and testing requirements for private businesses.

According to a CNBC report, The Justice Department told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit that “the threat to workers is ongoing and overwhelming” as offices continue reopen and new variants continue to emerge.

This week, scientists in South Africa announced the discovery of a new variant, known as B.1.1.529, and said it was linked to an exponential rise of infections.

“Simply put, delaying the Standard would likely cost many lives per day, in addition to large numbers of hospitalizations, other serious health effects, and tremendous expenses. That is a confluence of harms of the highest order,” the Justice Department argued.

But if mandatory vaccinations is not on the table, the Biden administration is hoping that the courts at least allow for masking and testing requirements for unvaccinated workers to remain in effect.

“Although vaccination is the most effective means of mitigating the grave danger of COVID-19 in the workplace, masking and testing for unvaccinated employees is a reasonably effective alternative,” the administration told the court.

The Biden administration was blocked from implementing its vaccine and testing mandate by an order from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. In an opinion for a three-judge panel, Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt said the policy was “fatally flawed” and “staggeringly overbroad,” raising “serious constitutional concerns.”