Commentary: I am Challenging the Vaccine Mandate to Protect My Workers’ Jobs

Blue Collar Worker

The Biden administration has finally published its anticipated ultimatum threatening companies like mine with severe fines and penalties for not firing any employee who declines to be vaccinated against or submit to invasive weekly testing for COVID-19. The new rule promulgated by the U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) under the guise of workplace safety may well bankrupt the business my father founded. So, as the CEO of the Phillips Manufacturing & Tower Company, I am joining with The Buckeye Institute to challenge OSHA’s vaccine mandate in court. Here’s why.

Phillips is a 54-year-old company based in Shelby, Ohio, that manufactures specialty welded steel tubing for automotive, appliance, and construction industries. OSHA’s emergency rule applies to companies with 100 or more employees — at our Shelby Welded Tube facility, we employ 104 people. As a family-owned business I take the health of my workers seriously — they are my neighbors and my friends. When I heard of the mandate, we conducted a survey of our workers to see what the impacts would be. It revealed that 28 Phillips employees are fully vaccinated, while antibody testing conducted at company expense found that another 16 employees have tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies and likely possess natural immunity. At least 47 employees have indicated that they have not and will not be vaccinated. Seventeen of those 47 unvaccinated workers said that they would quit or be fired before complying with the vaccine or testing mandate. Those are 17 skilled workers that Phillips cannot afford to lose.

Perhaps the Biden administration remains unaware of the labor shortage currently plaguing the U.S. labor market generally and industrial manufacturing especially. Like many companies, Phillips is already understaffed, with seven job openings we have been unable to fill. Employees already work overtime to keep pace with customer demand, working 10-hour shifts, six days a week on average. Firing 17 veteran members of the Phillips team certainly won’t help.

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Facebook Settles with Department of Justice over Claims It Discriminated Against U.S. Workers

Facebook reached separate settlement agreements with the Department of Justice and Department of Labor on Tuesday, resolving claims that the tech giant discriminated against U.S. workers in hiring and recruiting.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) sued Facebook in December 2020, alleging the company refused to hire or recruit qualified U.S. workers in thousands of open positions by reserving spots in its workforce for temporary visa holders through its permanent labor certification (PERM) program. The DOJ also alleged that Facebook intentionally tried to deter U.S. workers from applying for certain positions.

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Americans Remain Hard Workers Even Through the Pandemic, Especially in Red States

Blue Collar Worker

With Labor Day upon us, it’s time to take a look at which are the hardest-working states in America, and why. It has been a year that daily and weekly work routines have dramatically changed for tens of millions of Americans.

Researchers for WalletHub, a personal finance website, have once again set out to determine which states are home to the hardest working Americans in their annual report. They compare the 50 states based on both direct and indirect work factors, and then apply 10 different metrics to reach an overall score to rank each state.

The direct work factors, according to WalletHub, include “average workweek hours, employment rate, the share of households where no adults work, the share of workers leaving vacation time unused, share of engaged workers, and idle youth.”

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Biden Administration Won’t Push Pandemic Unemployment Bonus Extension

The Biden administration signaled to Capitol Hill lawmakers Thursday that it will not support an extension of pandemic-related unemployment benefits.

President Joe Biden won’t advocate for an extension of the $300 unemployment bonus given to millions of out-of-work Americans on a weekly basis, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh wrote in a letter to Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden and House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal. The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program, which was implemented in March 2020 and extended by Democrats’ recent American Rescue Plan, is set to expire in early September.

“As President Biden has said, the boost was always intended to be temporary and it is appropriate for that benefit boost to expire,” the secretaries wrote.

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Rieth-Riley Workers Win Settlements Against Union for Illegal Strike Retaliation

Rieth-Riley Construction paving a parking lot

Michigan Rieth-Riley Construction Company employees Rob Nevins and Jesse London won settlements against the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 324 union.

The settlements order IUOE union bosses not to discriminate against London and Nevins for leaving the union and pay $364 to London for owed health insurance premium.

The settlements stem from charges of retaliation the workers filed during the strike IUOE union bosses ordered in mid-2019. London and Nevins ended their union memberships and chose to keep working.

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‘Operation Warp Speed for Jobs’: Worker Shortage Is Getting Worse, U.S. Chamber Says

Construction workers

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce characterized the worker shortage as a crisis that is hurting businesses of all sizes and slowing the nation’s economic recovery.

The biggest challenge U.S. businesses currently face is the lack of qualified workers to fill open jobs, according to the Chamber of Commerce’s America Works Report released Tuesday morning. The national Worker Availability Ratio (WAR) — or ratio of number of available workers to number of available jobs — has dropped over the last several months, the report found.

The current WAR is 1.4, meaning for every job opening there are one or two workers available, according to the America Works Report. The historical WAR average over the last 20 years is 2.8.

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McDonald’s to Hire 260K People in the US as Pandemic Lockdowns Come to an End

McDonald’s plans to hire more than a quarter of a million people over the course of the summer as economic lockdowns continue to slow down, the company announced Thursday.

The restaurant chain will add 260,000 employees as it reopens dining rooms after shutting down amid lockdowns designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus, or COVID-19, according to the president of the company.

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Nearly 3.2 Million New Jobless Claims Across U.S. Drives Tally During Outbreak to 33.5 Million

Even as a handful of states have made tentative steps back to normalcy in recent days, new jobless claims continue to flood in across all 50 states, driving the number of unemployment claims to 33.5 million over the past seven weeks.

According to data released Thursday morning by the U.S. Department of Labor, 3.17 million Americans filed for new unemployment benefits for the week ending May 2. That was down 677,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 3.85 million but still well above the numbers seen before the coronavirus outbreak led to the shutdown of most of the national economy.

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