NC’s labor commissioner calls Biden’s vaccination mandate ‘a bit irresponsible’

Capitol Report

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – North Carolina Labor Commissioner Josh Dobson (R) called President Joe Biden’s announcement of new vaccination requirements for large employers “a bit irresponsible” Tuesday, saying he has a lot of unanswered questions about how it will work.

President Biden announced last week as part of his administration’s latest effort to combat COVID-19, federal labor officials are developing a new emergency rule that would require employers with at least 100 employees to either mandate the COVID-19 vaccine or have workers get tested weekly.

“I’ve not seen the specifics yet. But, I have serious concerns from an ideological standpoint, from a philosophical standpoint and also just from implementation,” Commissioner Dobson said. “I do think it was a bit irresponsible to come out publicly without any specifics, things like what about booster shots in the future?”

North Carolina is among states that enforce their own OSHA programs, meaning Dobson’s office would play a key role in overseeing whether businesses comply with the new requirements once they’re issued.

But, Dobson said so far he hasn’t seen specifics on exactly how enforcement would work, whether he would need to hire additional staff to carry that out, who would pay for testing and what role booster shots would play.

“We hope to get some specifics in the near future. But, those are the types of things that frankly both the business and the labor community are asking,” he said.

The Biden administration says the fine for a violation could be as high as $13,600, but more precise information about what would constitute a violation is still being determined. It could take weeks to develop the emergency rules.

Gov. Roy Cooper (D) is already implementing a similar requirement for state employees under his authority and has encouraged businesses to do the same.

“I think it’s positive that we have more vaccination requirements across the state because I think that’s going to get more people vaccinated. As to how it works through the entire legal process, we have to look at that,” he said.

Some Republicans have already announced plans to file lawsuits regarding Biden’s new vaccination plans.

“It is complicated because you have employment regulations and laws that are in place, but it’s doable,” said Gov. Cooper. “The fact that you are doing it, it puts more positive pressure on getting more people vaccinated.”

Biden also said he’s mandating vaccinations for federal workers without the option to get tested regularly instead.

Cooper said “that potential is there” to take a similar step for North Carolina state workers but that there are some issues to resolve such as what disciplinary actions to take and establishing an appeal process for workers.

“At the same time with all this happening, with the attention we’re getting, more and more people are getting vaccinated because they’re saying I might as well,” he said.

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