Biden Worker Vaccine Mandate Gets Mixed Reviews From Las Vegas Labor, Business Groups

September 16, 2021

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Source: Las Vegas Sun, by Casey Harrison

A major Las Vegas labor union commended President Joe Biden’s new order for employee COVID vaccinations, while a business advocacy group questioned the mandate.

Biden on Thursday announced that employers with 100 or more workers must require them to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or subjected to weekly testing.

The plan also requires all federal workers and contractors to be vaccinated — with limited exceptions — along with employees at health care facilities that accept Medicare and Medicaid payments.

In a statement, Culinary Union Local 226 Secretary Geoconda Argüello-Kline commended Biden’s order and recommended workers get vaccinated if they haven’t already.

“The Culinary Union will remain vigilant to ensure workers are protected at work, are actively negotiating with gaming companies to have agreements which reflect those goals, and we continue to urge hospitality employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine as they are safe, proven and effective,” she said.

The Vegas Chamber, meanwhile, said it agrees employees should get vaccinated but opposes mandating the shots by presidential executive order.

“Many Las Vegas companies, including the Vegas Chamber, have already adopted the policy of giving employees a choice to either provide proof of full COVID vaccination or regular negative COVID test results,” the chamber said in a statement.

“However, the Vegas Chamber is concerned with the federal government mandating such a policy through presidential executive order without debate through either the legislative or regulatory processes,” said the chamber, which represents about 4,000 businesses.

“While many companies are voluntarily taking proactive measures to fight the spread of COVID, mandating them to do so through executive order sets a worrisome precedent and creates a slippery slope for future potential mandates on employers and employees,” the group’s statement said.

Cara Clarke, vice president of communications for the Vegas Chamber, said most Nevada businesses have fewer than 100 employees, and large businesses in the gaming and tourism sector have already adopted similar policies.

MGM Resorts International last month began requiring proof of vaccination for new hires in the U.S., and salaried employees will be required to be vaccinated by Oct. 15, according to a memo from MGM President and CEO Bill Hornbuckle.

Allegiant Air, a Las Vegas-based airline, said its policy has always been to “strongly recommend vaccination for all employees” and will comply with the new mandate.

In a letter to staff members today, University Medical Center said all employees must be vaccinated by Nov. 1.

The letter, signed by hospital CEO Mason Van Houweling, said 80% of staff members have already been vaccinated. As of Sept. 1, all new employees were required to be vaccinated.

Gov. Steve Sisolak in July issued a directive that all state employees be vaccinated or participate in weekly testing.

 

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