An old phrase, “roll up your sleeves and get to work,” has new meaning in the age of the pandemic.
The big difference with the federal employee vaccination mandate is that most people are used to having and expect things to be done. outside of their bodies. Breath tests in case you are arrested. Urine samples for drug testing. Often the gifts are voluntary. Blood tests for medical panels or donation. Spit for DNA. Some people cut their hair long and donate it to cover the head of a child with cancer whose hair has fallen out.
But to have to take something in his blood circulation at the risk of losing his job is new territory. No debate will settle this issue. As someone who got vaccinated last March, I understand the passion on both sides of the argument, if I fully accept neither.
The pandemic quickly turned from a shared horror to a bizarre cultural divide. We’ve got those who revel without a mask at concerts or super-spreader gatherings, and those who still radiate their grape nuts on their way home from the grocery store, after driving home with a mask in the car. Just look at the wide variations in the way state governors approach what’s going on. Now almost everyone is a Hatfield or a McCoy. I have noticed that this division does not transcend borders – ethnic, geographic, political, or educational – that typically divide people, but rather something deeper within individuals.
Published reports say President Joe Biden will meet with some CEOs of large companies to get them involved in mandatory vaccines. Many companies have already done this. Federal employees therefore have plenty of company pending detailed advice on how agencies will carry out the vaccination mandate.
This business logically extends to federal contractors who usually work on site in your agency. Contractors have been part of the planning for the comeback at least since January, when a White House executive order forcefully established the Safer Federal Workforce. It’s a large committee of federal executives, each of whom designates a poor career schlimazel to do the real job of scratching his head and twisting the chair. The kind of job that no matter what you come up with, someone will hate it.
The work isn’t just emotional, it’s downright complicated. The contractor’s COVID policy could end up varying from agency to agency. You can see why entrepreneurs are on edge.
The White House did not name any contractors specifically in the September 9 employee tenure, but that included “those interacting with the federal workforce.” Don’t worry, the second memo on September 9 devoted a lot of detail to contractors, but was just short of a vaccine mandate.
If the administration imposes a warrant, it will have a needle analogue that delivers the vaccine. Namely, a new rule in the Federal Acquisition Regulation, and presumably in the Defense Supplement, requiring contractors to comply with whatever ends up being the final COVID mandates. In other words, if they want to continue to obtain federal contracts. The requirements will also extend to subcontractors.
This regulation takes place in October, and lawyers for the contractors have urged clients to send in their comments. This was confirmed by Amy Conway, a partner at the law firm Stinson. She said her clients were all nervously waiting to see what would happen. Holland and Knight Partner Eric Crusius said the same. Both said that for the companies they represent, uncertainty is their biggest worry.
At this point, no one knows exactly how the mandates are going to play out. Keep in mind that the working group’s concerns go beyond vaccines and mask wear. They also include cleaning, hygiene, office density, ventilation, symptom monitoring and contact tracing, meeting and conference management, travel and of course testing. Discover them all in this brand new “Safety Principles Model”.
At some federal sites, contractors outnumber federal employees. What do occupancy and hygiene patterns look like in these situations?
Another fork cuts between the big business entrepreneurs and the hundreds of thousands of small businesses that do government work. When I asked the question, Conway confirmed that large companies can more easily impose their own vaccine mandates on employees than small businesses. Small businesses can less afford to have people on such a mandate. They could be located in areas where more people oppose the vaccine or do not want it for themselves.
When it comes to the vaccine, people fall into three basic buckets. People of “of course, no problem”, the “I’m suspicious but here is my shoulder” and the “no way I let this poison in me”. No policy can accommodate everyone, and at some point the government will have to set its policy and drop the chips. Either way, I think grassroots federal employees and contractors would love to see it already.
Almost useless factoid
By David Thornton
The novel Catch-22 has been rejected by editors 22 times.
Source: Literary pole