PARKER: Vaccine Mandates Will Destroy Main Street

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Elaine Parker Contributor
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Editor’s note: We endeavor to bring you the top voices on current events representing a range of perspectives. Below is a column arguing that vaccine mandates will cause massive damage to small businesses. You can find a counterpoint here, where Dr. Monica Gandhi argues that vaccine mandates are necessary to end the pandemic.

As Americans enjoy the fleeting days of summer, His Royal Majesty Joe Biden has handed down the White House’s latest decree. The administration is directing a body within the Labor Department to impose a vaccine mandate on tens of millions of American workers.

More specifically, the rule will conscript businesses with 100 or more employees to require that staff get inoculated for the coronavirus, or provide a negative test at least once a week. It’s one thing for a private business to require a vaccination, but it’s another can of worms when the government compels companies to police it, requires them to provide paid time off to staff to get it, and then reportedly, according to The Wall Street Journal, encourages workers to snitch on employers that fail to comply.

Ignoring the blatant executive overreach, small businesses will be left to deal with the fallout. But hey, as we heard in the press conference, Biden’s “patience is wearing thin.” Main Street and constitutional guardrails be damned.

The federal government generally defines a small business as an enterprise with fewer than 500 employees. That means the policy will ensnare a sizable chunk of the small business community. The edict is estimated to impact more than 80 million private sector workers.

Among the consequences, the de facto national vaccine mandate will exacerbate already serious staffing shortages. According to the latest government figures, a record 10.9 million jobs remain unfilled nationwide. While businesses may be enjoying healthy consumer demand as the economy emerges from the pandemic, many don’t have a sufficient number of workers to take advantage of it.

During a recent event held by the Job Creators Network (JCN) in Minnesota, the owner of Lawrence Transportation — a family-run operation dating back several decades — noted they’re having trouble finding enough truck drivers to get their vehicles on the road. Carlos Gazitua, a JCN small business member with restaurants in Florida, is also scrambling to find employees to staff his locations.

It’s a story that’s playing out in small businesses from Seattle to Miami.

The Biden administration’s dramatic government overreach will turn an uphill hike to find workers into a 90-degree climb for affected businesses. Nearly one-fifth of U.S. adults are highly skeptical of the vaccine and say they won’t get pricked. A command from Washington will only stiffen resistance. Therefore, the already limited pool of job candidates will shrink further.

And that’s only the tip of the iceberg; employers will inevitably be forced to terminate some existing staff members who refuse to comply with the rule. For example, one Utah small business is expecting to lose about 30% of its workforce once the mandate is implemented. And high employee turnover can be expensive.

To be clear, my organization is not anti-vaccine. We encourage Americans to get inoculated. However, it’s a decision that should be made in the exam room, not the lunch room.

In regards to the vaccine’s alternative, weekly testing, many small businesses simply don’t have the time, money or logistical resources to handle indefinite testing and tracking procedures. Not to mention the $14,000 penalty per violation. Small businesses already operate on razor thin budget margins, which have only tightened since out-of-control government spending has contributed to inflating operational costs.

Any money put towards testing is siphoned from potential wage increases, facility upgrades or business expansion. Unlike Uncle Sam, small businesses can’t simply fire-up the printing presses to cover budget shortfalls.

Biden’s vaccine mandate is only the latest offensive in the war on small business. But unlike the other planks of the administration’s harmful policy agenda being pursued in tandem with Congress, the vaccine mandate is a stretch of the executive branch’s authority.

Biden is attempting to implement the crackdown via an Emergency Temporary Standard through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The tool can be used in limited, targeted circumstances, but it must be determined that “workers are in grave danger due to exposure to toxic substances or agents determined to be toxic or physically harmful or to new hazards.”

Considering the coronavirus has been prevalent in the U.S. since March 2020 and given that a majority of the U.S. populace is fully vaccinated — in addition to the rate of natural immunity — the situation is neither new nor poses a “grave danger” to most people. That’s why the organization I help run, JCN, intends to file a lawsuit together with some of its small business members against the Biden administration supported by our newly created JCN Foundation Legal Action Fund.

The announced vaccine mandate goes beyond the executive’s authority alone and compromises the small business community that is leading the charge for economic recovery. Americans need to stand up against unconstitutional overreach on behalf of Main Street.

Elaine Parker is the President of the Job Creators Network Foundation.