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COVID mandates: A union leader objects


Many leaders in government and employee unions in recent months foresaw tougher COVID workplace policies coming, as efforts to contain the illness have flagged in many parts of the country.  

But most unions, including federal employee unions, have either plainly supported or offered limited criticism in the first hours after President Biden's mandate announcement Thursday, which will lead to stricter rules requiring almost all feds—and contractors and millions of other employees working for larger companies—to comply with new and tougher mandates on vaccination and testing. 

One union leader—Larry Cosme, president of the often conservative Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA)—came out in full opposition

“The Biden-Harris Administration’s action to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for all federal employees is ill conceived,” Cosme said. “Today, 75 percent of American adults have at least their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.” 

Cosme went on to state that because a majority of the overall U.S. population has at least gotten started on being vaccinated, it’s not necessary and is instead counterproductive for the White House to move forward with such a sweeping order. 

The union executive further argued that between vaccinations so far and recovered COVID victims, this country is already headed to “herd immunity,” making the order unnecessary.

The White House, the CDC and other leading medical organizations have come to the opposite conclusion: that this country cannot achieve anything close to herd immunity, and hence will suffer high mortality from COVID, without far greater portions of the country’s population, evenly distributed among all geographical regions, getting fully vaccinated. 

Still, Cosme insisted that “a mandate at this time only undermines these voluntary vaccination efforts and reduces public comfort in getting vaccinated.” 
“This executive order villainizes employees for reasonable concerns and hesitancies and inserts the federal government into individual medical decisions. People should not be made to feel uncomfortable for making a reasonable medical choice,” Cosme said.

"As FLEOA has consistently said, we encourage our members to seek individual medical guidance and, in most cases, get vaccinated,” Cosme continued. “However, we understand that threatening people’s livelihood and penalizing employees for making independent medical decisions is not the answer.” 

“We will continue to review the legal landscape for this order and act as appropriate to support our members and voice their concerns.” Cosme said, "We are nation built on freedom. We are law enforcement officers who defend that freedom. And we deserve the freedom to make our own health decisions.”

Meanwhile, according to Johns Hopkins and other authorities, the U.S. in recent weeks has seen COVID deaths climb back up to over 1,500 per day, pushed hugely by less vaccinated regions and states—a fact that played a role in the stark White House move. 

2021 Digital Almanac

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