There is good news on the subject of COVID-19 vaccine mandate, which should provide some sense of relief and clarity for our members.
First the General Services Administration (GSA) updated the FAQ on its website addressing the federal contractor mandate for area-wide agreements. While the language used in the FAQs is not totally clear, it appears that the GSA is no longer requiring the inclusion of the vaccination mandate in these agreements, and this is how others in the industry have interpreted it as well. The GSA also noted that it continues to encourage utility service providers to include the vaccine mandate clause in area-wide agreements, but stated that it will not unilaterally change existing contracts to include the mandate.
For now, it appears that our members working for utilities that might be considered federal contractors will not need to be vaccinated by the January deadline. PG&E is analyzing this language and assessing their position and that of their contractors. We will continue to monitor any further actions that come out of the GSA.
Additionally, the OSHA ETS (Emergency Temporary Standard) on COVID-19 vaccine mandates and testing has been suspended. Multiple states and other entities are suing OSHA, and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has stayed the decision. These cases have been consolidated and will soon be heard by a different federal appeals court.
This is obviously a fluid situation. With the help of our legal team, we will continue to closely monitor any developments, and determine whether there are any legal avenues where it would be appropriate and where we might have standing to intervene. And, of course, we will continue to post updates to our members. We are working through our remaining Unfair Labor Practice charges, and we are keeping on top of all OSHA changes.
Thank you for putting in the work despite worries of where and when all of this will end. We will keep fighting and keep monitoring, and we will eventually get through this.
Bob Dean, IBEW 1245 Business Manager