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Biden promises vaccination campaign against Covid after Supreme Court ruling on vaccination mandate

A healthcare worker prepares a syringe with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at a pop-up vaccination site operated by SOMOS Community Care during the COVID-19 pandemic in Manhattan, New York, January 29, 2021.

Mike Ségar | Reuters

The Supreme Court ruling that banned the Biden administration’s Covid vaccine mandate for employees of large employers will not stop U.S. companies from requiring vaccinations for their workers.

President Joe Biden on Thursday vowed to push companies to do just that in order to save American lives and avoid even more financial fallout from the two-year coronavirus pandemic.

“The court ruled that my administration cannot use the authority given to it by Congress to demand this measure, but that does not prevent me from using my voice as president to advocate for employers to do what it takes to protect the health and economy of Americans, “Biden said in a statement.

“I call on business leaders to immediately join those who have already stepped up their efforts – including a third of Fortune 100 companies – and institute vaccination requirements to protect their workers, customers and communities,” Biden said. .

Earlier Thursday, the Supreme Court blocked a rule issued in the fall by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that would have required companies with at least 100 employees to vaccinate their workers against Covid-19 or wear masks at work and test negative for the virus at least once a week.

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In its ruling, the High Court said that while OSHA had the power granted by Congress to regulate occupational hazards, the agency did not have the authority “to regulate public health more broadly.”

The National Retail Foundation hailed the decision as a “significant victory” for employers.

The NRF said in a statement it had joined more than two dozen other professional associations in making oral arguments this week against the mandate, which it called “cumbersome and unprecedented.”

But the retail foundation also said it “has maintained a strong and consistent stance related to the importance of vaccines in helping to overcome this pandemic.”

And, anticipating Biden’s later statement on the decision, the NRF said it “urges the Biden administration to reject this illegal mandate and to work with employers, employees and public health experts on practical ways to ‘increase vaccination rates and mitigate the spread of the virus in 2022. “

David Gordon, partner at New York law firm Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp, said following the Supreme Court ruling, “employers will now be free to set their own requirements, subject to national laws and regulations. applicable local “.

Gordon noted that “This decision makes no difference to employers in New York City and employers in other jurisdictions who will require all employees to be vaccinated.”

“Employers in these locations will still be subject to applicable vaccine mandates,” he said.

But Gordon also said the move will allow a large employer to make a decision on vaccinations that reflects competition in the job market for workers.

“It’s no longer a level playing field among large employers in terms of recruiting,” Gordon said. “From now on, if a large employer considers that it would be advantageous not to oblige its employees to be vaccinated, it will be free not to adopt a mandate of vaccination if it is allowed where they are. “

Starbucks said last month that all U.S. workers at the giant coffeehouse chain must either be vaccinated by February 9 or be tested.

Previously, large employers like American Express, Amtrak, Citigroup, General Electric, Google, Jeffries, NBCUniversal, Southwest Airlines, Tyson Foods and United Airlines had imposed vaccination warrants on employees, or at least on workers returning to their physical offices. .

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Disclosure: NBCUniversal is the parent company of CNBC.

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