Supreme Court Blocks OSHA Workplace Vaccine Mandates

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

A divided U.S. Supreme Court has blocked the Biden administration’s vaccine-or-test rule that would have been enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and impacted roughly 1.7 million automotive employees.

“Although Congress has indisputably given OSHA the power to regulate occupational dangers, it has not given that agency the power to regulate public health more broadly,” the court explained. “Requiring the vaccination of 84 million Americans, selected simply because they work for employers with more than 100 employees, certainly falls in the latter category.”

The high court also doubted that the plan would have worked at all during numerous hearings, citing that 27 states had already issued formal opposition to OSHA’s plan to begin mandatory vaccination requirements for businesses. Their claim was that the proposed rules were unconstitutional and vastly exceeded the organization’s authority.

“The Biden Administration’s OSHA rule was a long time coming and we have been preparing for months now in anticipation,” Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy stated in November 2021. “President Biden’s attempt to force mandates upon the nation is unconstitutional — it is an attack against the individual’s freedom and a threat against liberty. My administration previously issued an Administrative Order which represents my commitment to Alaskans against President Biden’s vaccine mandates. Alaskans can rest assured I will take every action possible to defend them and their rights. I am not anti-vaccine; I am anti-mandate, and I will stand up against federal overreach.”

While support of the proposed OSHA rules remained strong among businesses through 2021, numerous organizations that would have been subject to the rules likewise started walking things back during the fall — including automakers.

Domestic manufacturers (Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis) had all indicated that they would likely comply with vaccine mandates before January of 2022, coinciding with the Biden administration’s preferred timeline. Some had also started requiring salaried workers to report for their vaccine status while the Canadian side of the business actually began requiring vaccine proof just to enter the building.

However organized opposition to mandates had swelled throughout 2021 and none of the Big Three were willing to commit to anything by November for the United States. The same was true of the UAW, which encouraged members to get vaccinated while officially opposing any government-backed initiatives that would have forced the issue. The most domestic automakers would say is that they collectively supported the UAW’s request for all unionized workers to voluntarily submit their vaccine status to employers and would likely continue requiring the wearing of personal protective equipment (e.g. masks). But the industry remained quiet on the matter through December 2021, perhaps waiting to see how things played out with the Supreme Court.

They now have their answer. Judges decided to oppose the Biden Administration’s plan to give OSHA more authority, with three members of the court’s left wing (Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan) having dissented.

Though the Supreme Court did narrowly allow (5-4) a requirement would require health care workers in facilities that receive Medicare and Medicaid funding to be vaccinated, pending further proceedings. This time it was the right-leaning members of the court (Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Amy Coney Barrett) dissenting.

Automakers and the UAW are expected to give a joint statement on the Supreme Court decision pertaining to vaccines in the coming days.

[Image: General Motors]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • JD-Shifty JD-Shifty on Jan 17, 2022

    " Then why has case numbers exploded over the past 2 months? We were told the vaccines would stop the spread. Has it?" Omicron is more contagious. you should read about it. The vaccine is supposed to mitigate the severity and death and help to keep the hospitals from being over run. Hope this helps you

    • See 8 previous
    • EBFlex EBFlex on Jan 18, 2022

      @mcs "@Dahlquist: No, it’s more than just sniffles. Maybe you should read about it." @Nelson It's really not. It's MILD cold symptoms. The flu is worse and more dangerous. Maybe you should read about it.

  • Mcs Mcs on Jan 17, 2022

    "Almost All Teens in ICU With COVID Were Unvaccinated, Study Shows"

    • Slavuta Slavuta on Jan 17, 2022

      ya-ya-ya Thanks for giving a link to a closed material... But since in the visible part it said, materials are based on the New England Med Journal, I vent there, found the study. "Among the case patients, the median age was 16 years, 74% had at least one underlying condition (including obesity), ... Among the controls, the median age was 15 years, 70% had at least one underlying condition..." A-ha!!! This study was made on many children witch medical issues. And unfortunately they don't tell, which ones died. What issues they had. Obesity is told to be the important issue with Covid. And of course, the study is by Dr Patel, from CDC. Hey - thanks a lot. CDC is disqualified.

  • El scotto Listen, unless you were Lord Headly-Stempmoor or such when you got off the off the boat, boot in Canada, you got the short end of the stick. People got on the boat, these days a plane, to escape famine, becoming cannon fodder in yet another stupid war, or the government thought it was A-OK to let soldiers kill you. Juneteenth is just a way to right one of the more bad ideas in the American experiment. Instead we have commenters who were buying tater chips and diet soda at Wal-Mart and got all butt-hurt because they heard someone who wasn't speaking English. I'm going to go fix a couple of frankfurters with salsa and guacamole and wash them down with a lager or three
  • Akear I just wish GM could produce a vehicle 80% as good as the crown.I sat in a Trax at a Chevrolet dealership this weekend and was shocked how cheap it felt. GM does not care.GM - what a disgrace!
  • Akear I like the grill treatment of all Mitsubishi products. It is an interesting and original design.
  • El scotto Some rambling thoughts; Elon is pulling billions in cash out of Tesla. Tesla will be around, Elon won't let them fail. Mitsubishi is an odd place, you can't sell vehicles if you don't have dealers. Out of all the "Automalls" near you, how many have a Mitsubishi dealership? The Agnellis owned Fiat, Fiat got sold to Stellantis. The Agnellis control Exor. How much of Stellantis does Exor own? I really should be drinking beer with Billy Ford and talking Big-10 trash with him. Ford and Lucid should work out a partnership. You want an electric Lincoln? Have Lucid build it and slap a Lincoln name plate on it. BTW, kick Farley's butt to the curb.
  • Akear US contentChevrolet Trax - 5%Honda Pilot - 52%What a disgrace!I glad Consumer Reports panned the Trax, and put it on its avoid list.