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Vaccine mandate: NFFE responds

This month, facing rising numbers of COVID cases and deaths across large swaths of the country, the Biden White House issued sturdier vaccine requirements, and in particular an absolute mandate for federal employees. 

Feds must be fully vaccinated by Nov. 22. 

The White House order is intended to increase the number and proportion of people in the U.S. who are vaccinated, cut the number of deaths and hospitalizations, and to more completely re-open the economy. Feds must also offer documented proof of complete vaccination. 

Only small numbers of exceptions to the new regulations are expected, all of which would have to come under medical or religious reasons. 

Now, as have employee organizations, a major federal employee union, the National Federation of Federal Employees, is responding to the new mandate. The group considered legally challenging the change, having preferred that any new vaccine policy be negotiated, but has stated that it is dropping that avenue. 

"NFFE understands and respects the differing perspectives of its individual members on matters regarding vaccines, mask mandates, and social distancing," the union said in a release. "We have considered the likelihood of success on a legal challenge to the mandates contained within the EO."

"More than 100 years of legal precedent exists confirming the authority of employer-required mandates and vaccines, and the courts at all levels have consistently rejected challenges to this type of mandate," the union continued. "Therefore, NFFE has determined it will not legally challenge the Executive Order requiring federal employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19."

"NFFE believes no employee should be fired in connection with this mandate," the union stated. "NFFE is in discussions with the Administration regarding progressive discipline for employees who remain unvaccinated. NFFE also remains concerned that any disciplinary actions taken by agencies are defined in advance and are administrated consistently and fairly. As those discussions continue, NFFE encourages everyone who is able to get the vaccination. The CDC has found that unvaccinated individuals are 11 times more likely to die of COVID-19." 

In addition to the statement, the union has published its own guidance document advising on the Office of Personnel Management's Order on the matter. 

2021 Digital Almanac

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