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The Listen to MI Business coalition says plan threatens economic recovery with one of most expansive federal mandates in history

Michigan’s coalition of leading employer advocates, Listen to MI Business, today announced it has strong objections to President Biden’s divisive and burdensome vaccine mandate – with 490 pages of just-released rules – impacting thousands of Michigan companies and up to two million Michigan workers.  

“Michigan’s business community and employers have been strong proponents of increasing COVID-19 vaccinations as well as actively taking steps to protect their employees and customers. But the Biden-Harris administration has made a serious mistake by preventing Michigan’s businesses and workers from having any input into what is one of the most intrusive federal mandates in U.S. history,” said Rich Studley, President & CEO of the Michigan Chamber. “Now, after a process shrouded in secrecy, job providers already in a labor shortage entering the busy holiday season are left to wade through hundreds of pages of regulations and figure out how they will comply under the threat of steep financial penalties.”

“Michigan businesses have good reason to fear these new rules, too, as news outlets report how overly-aggressive Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) inspectors imposed questionable fines and burned records,” continued Studley.  “We urge MIOSHA to implement these rules fairly and consistently.”

The Listen to MI Business coalition was first announced on Oct. 18 in response to the President’s refusal to use the Occupational Health and Safety Administration’s (OSHA) traditional rulemaking process.

The coalition fully supports increasing vaccinations as an important and sensible goal, but not as a massive, complex and top-down mandate that bypassed the traditional rulemaking process to circumvent input from employers or employees.

The vaccine mandate is widely expected to be challenged in federal court. Already, the vaccine mandate on federal contractors is being challenged in at least three lawsuits filed by 19 different states.

Thus far, the State of Michigan has declined to oppose any of the Biden Administration’s vaccine mandates, although pressure from the coalition caused Governor Whitmer to announce on Oct. 21 that she would not order MIOSHA to implement state rules more stringent than what the federal OSHA rules require. 

Just last week, new research by the Society for Human Resource Management found that 90% of employers “believe it will be somewhat or very challenging to implement the Biden administration’s pending mandate that organizations with 100 or more employees require workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly testing.” The poll also showed that “80% of organizations that meet the mandate criteria are concerned about the amount of time they will have to spend enforcing or tracking employees’ vaccination status or test status.”

Meanwhile, nearly 40% of organizations surveyed said retaining workers will be the most difficult aspect of Biden’s mandate, 90% believe some of their employees will quit as a result and a full 65% indicated their organization will be unable to afford to pay for employee testing.

Statewide, 61% of Michigan voters oppose employees being forced to get the vaccine as a condition of employment, according to a Marketing Resource Group (MRG) survey of 602 likely Michigan voters between Oct. 18-24.

The Listen to MI Business coalition plans to closely study the now-released OSHA rules and consider next steps. Coalition members will also work to help inform Michigan businesses on their compliance obligations.

Ryan Tarrant, President & CEO, Bay Area Chamber
“After eighteen months of uncertainty, our businesses are now being forced to implement yet another government mandate without their input. The Administration would be better served by working toward solutions that would help our economic recovery, namely workforce shortages, supply chain issues and inflation.” 

Henry Wolf, Director of Government Relations, Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance
“The Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance is disappointed that the Biden administration has chosen to put desperate employers in a perilous position yet again by forcing them to implement this rule. We ask for assistance from Michigan’s congressional delegation in blocking this new mandate.”

Neda Payne, Executive Director, Lapeer Area Chamber 
“More government overreach that will result in the demise of more small businesses during a time many are still struggling to keep their doors open. Totally unacceptable on many levels.”

William J. Hallan, President and CEO, Michigan Retailers Association
“Retailers are already facing devastating supply chain and shipping challenges combined with workforce shortages this holiday season and now they have this added logistical nightmare. This couldn’t have come at a worse time and is unnecessary since retailers have largely stepped up to keep their employees safe without government intervention.”  

Andy Johnston, Vice President, Grand Rapids Area Chamber 
“After two months of waiting and wondering, this complicated mandate puts job providers in an incredibly difficult position as they work to manage significant talent and supply chain issues during a hectic fourth quarter. While we object to this government mandate on free enterprise, we will work to help employers and employees through this and call on state and federal regulators to be flexible and apply common sense whenever possible.”

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Coalition members include: 

ABC Michigan
Battle Creek Area Chamber
Bay Area Chamber of Commerce 
Community Bankers of Michigan
Frankenmuth Chamber
Grand Rapids Area Chamber
Holly Area Chamber 
Lake Goebic Area Chamber
Lansing Regional Chamber
Lapeer Area Chamber 
Michigan Aggregates Association
Michigan Bankers Association
Michigan Chamber of Commerce
Michigan Independent Retailers Association
Michigan Retailers Association
Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber
Northern MI Chamber Alliance
Petoskey Regional Chamber
Saginaw County Chamber
Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber
Traverse Connect
West Coast Chamber