Court halts COVID mandate
November 9, 2021 | 1:07 pm CST

Vaccine mandate put on hold by appellate court.

New Orleans — The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals put a temporary halt to OSHA’s emergency temporary standard on COVID-19 vaccination, weekly testing and employee masking by granting an emergency motion.

The three judges granted the stay on Nov. 5, pending an expedited review, because “the petitions give cause to believe there are grave statutory and constitutional issues with the [ETS],” according to CBS News. 

The ruling brought almost an immediate response from President Biden’s administration. National Public Radio reported Nov. 9 that a court brief was filed late Monday by federal officials and the Solicitor of Labor Seema Nanda to rescind the stay, warning that maintaining the stay "would endanger many thousands of people."

"With the reopening of workplaces and the emergence of the highly transmissible Delta variant, the threat to workers is ongoing and overwhelming," according to the brief. The administration dismissed the legal objections that led to the stay as lacking merit.

The suit is among a number of court challenges against the ETS, according to multiple sources.
OSHA published its ETS, which would apply to employers with at least 100 employees, in the Nov. 5 Federal Register. Covered employers would have to develop, implement and enforce a mandatory Covid-19 vaccination policy – or develop a policy that gives employees the choice to get vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing.

Covered employees would have a deadline of Jan. 4 to be fully vaccinated or begin undergoing weekly COVID-19 testing. Under the ETS, unvaccinated workers would be required to wear a face covering while indoors or in a vehicle “with another person for work purposes.”

Many furniture and cabinet makers have already announced that they plan to develop a Covid-19 protection plan to ensure the safety of their workers, and to continue to sell products to the federal government. 

For instance, Kimball International, OFS Brands, Indiana Furniture, Versteel and Jasper Group announced in October their plans for complying with the COVID-19 vaccine mandate as providers of furniture products to the U.S. federal government. In a joint statement, each company pledged to begin working with employees to verify compliance or discuss potential exemptions to ensure the government’s requirements are met. 

“As leaders of long-standing businesses in Dubois County, it’s important for each of our companies to share our plans to comply with this mandate with our home town communities,” said Kristie Juster, CEO of Kimball International.

Mike Wagner, President and CEO of Jasper Group  added,“Our communities depend on our ability to make the decisions that ensure furniture manufacturing remains strong for generations to come.” 

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Larry Adams | Editor

Larry Adams is a Chicago-based writer and editor who writes about how things get done. A former wire service and community newspaper reporter, Larry is an award-winning writer with more than three decades of experience. In addition to writing about woodworking, he has covered science, metrology, metalworking, industrial design, quality control, imaging, Swiss and micromanufacturing . He was previously a Tabbie Award winner for his coverage of nano-based coatings technology for the automotive industry. Larry volunteers for the historic preservation group, the Kalo Foundation/Ianelli Studios, and the science-based group, Chicago Council on Science and Technology (C2ST).