October 19 (Reuters) – Thousands of unvaccinated workers across the United States face potential job losses as a growing number of states, cities and private companies begin to enforce mandates vaccination against COVID-19.
In the latest high-profile example, Washington State University (WSU) fired its head football coach and four of his assistants on Monday for failing to meet state vaccine requirements. Coach Nick Rolovich had asked for a religious exemption from the tenure earlier this month.
Thousands of police and firefighters in cities like Chicago and Baltimore are also at risk of losing their jobs in the coming days under warrants that require them to report their immunization status or undergo regular testing for the coronavirus.
While controversial, the warrants have been effective in convincing many hesitant workers to get vaccinated against the virus, which has killed more than 700,000 people in the United States. Some 77% of eligible Americans have received at least one vaccine injection, White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters last week.
In Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot fought with the police union, which voted against the vaccination mandate for city workers. About a third of the city’s 12,770 police workers missed the Friday deadline for declaring their vaccination status, and some police officers have been placed in default of payment.
“Fundamentally, it’s about saving lives. It’s about maximizing the opportunity to create a safe workplace, ”Lightfoot said on Monday, accusing the union of being tied to“ instigating an insurgency ”by opposing the mandate.
Chicago Fraternal Order of Police union president John Catanzara did not respond to a request for comment.
The White House, which announced sweeping vaccine requirements aimed at reducing an increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths caused by the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus, has been a major catalyst behind the surge in ‘inoculation.
Some 200 employees of Boeing Co (BN) and others staged a protest against the aircraft manufacturer’s requirement that 125,000 workers be vaccinated by December 8, under an executive order issued by the president Joe Biden for Federal Contractors.
Rules in another decree that apply to private companies with 100 or more employees are expected to be finalized soon.
In addition to the tenure of federal workers and contractors, Biden’s vaccine needs will cover about 100 million people, or about two-thirds of the U.S. workforce.
The White House has met with executives from several large companies to discuss Biden’s private sector vaccination plan.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Sunday said he was concerned about a possible shortage of Transportation Security Administration agents who would spoil air travel during the holiday season. . With 40% of the agency’s staff yet to be vaccinated and Thanksgiving just over a month away, Schumer suggested that security dogs could be added to help cover any shortfall.
“VACCINE MANDATES HELP MOTIVATE PEOPLE”
A wave of layoffs has already swept through the healthcare sector, which has moved faster than others to impose vaccination mandates given the increased risk of exposure to COVID-19 for patients and staff.
Nurses and other healthcare workers who chose to quit their jobs rather than be vaccinated recently told Reuters they couldn’t get over their concern over the lack of long-term data on the three vaccines available in states -United.
While the vaccines received emergency use clearance from the Food and Drug Administration in less than a year, medical experts have largely vouched for their safety, citing years of research, large clinical trials and real-world data after hundreds of millions of people have been vaccinated around the world.
Like WSU’s Rolovich, many unvaccinated workers seeking to avoid the gunfire have done so by asking for religious exemptions, which are being tested in multiple courts.
School leaders said the mandate was to ensure the safety of its teachers and staff.
“Experience shows that immunization mandates help motivate people to complete the immunization process,” Marty Dickinson, WSU board chair, said in a statement.
The mandates pose staffing challenges in various industries, and some companies are taking steps to reassure workers that their requests for medical or religious exemptions will be given serious consideration.
Southwest Airlines (LUV.N) told its employees on Friday it would allow unvaccinated people to continue working, rather than being put on unpaid leave, if their exemption requests had not been assessed before the December 8 deadline.
Reporting by Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut and Nandita Bose in Washington; Editing by Bill Berkrot
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