Sisters and Brothers,
The OSHA temporary standard that requires vaccinations from COVID-19 or weekly testing and mask wearing for all private companies with 100 or more employees, was argued before the Supreme Court on Friday January 7, 2022. During arguments, opponents of the rule asked the court to quickly halt the directive before January 10th, when many of the requirements would take effect. As of the drafting of this update, the Supreme Court is still deliberating, and a decision could literally come at any time, but it is generally believed that it will certainly be decided prior to the February 9th testing deadline.
OSHA has the authority to issue emergency temporary standards only if it can show both of the following:
- Employees are exposed to grave danger from a hazard
- The ETS is necessary to protect employees from that danger
Because the OSHA temporary standard was previously upheld by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Duke Energy was required to comply with certain obligations including having procedures in place and enforcing a mask mandate for unvaccinated workers by January 10th, which they have. "Businesses with at least 100 employees must require unvaccinated workers to wear masks starting on Jan. 10. Covered employers must also prepare a written COVID-19 vaccine-or-testing policy. Businesses also must ask about the vaccination status of each employee, obtain acceptable proof of vaccination, and maintain a list of employees and their vaccination statuses."
Sisters and Brothers, as I told you previously, this is NOT a Duke Energy initiative. Duke is simply complying with the OSHA mandate, as required by law. System Council U8 and the System Committee anxiously await the ruling and is prepared to bargain the effects of the OSHA temporary standard, should it be upheld by the Supreme Court.
*Update* January 15, 2022
On Thursday, January 13, 2022, the Supreme Court blocked the OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard requiring private businesses with 100 or more employees to be vaccinated or tested weekly. The ruling does not prohibit private businesses from enacting their own policy but says they cannot be required to do so by OSHA.
Later that same day, Duke Energy repealed it's vaccinate or test policy that was developed in compliance with the OSHA mandate.
Thank you and please continue working safely.