The American Postal Workers Union is going “postal” against Biden’s proposed federal vaccine mandate. The APWU has issued a statement that says bluntly: “It is not the role of the federal government to mandate vaccinations.”
“Various media outlets have reported that the White House is considering mandatory COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment for federal employees,” the APWU said.
“Maintaining the health and safety of our members is of paramount importance,” the statement continued. “While the APWU leadership continues to encourage postal workers to voluntarily get vaccinated, it is not the role of the federal government to mandate vaccinations for the employees we represent.”
“Issues related to vaccinations and testing for COVID-19 in the workplace must be negotiated with the APWU,” the statement added. “At this time the APWU opposes the mandating of COVID-19 vaccinations in relation to U.S. postal workers.”
“As an AFL-CIO affiliate, the APWU supports the struggle for social and economic justice for all working families,” the union describes as its mission.
A February 2021 Stat News piece lays out the case that federal law “prohibits employers and others from requiring vaccination with a Covid-19 vaccine distributed under an EUA” (Emergency Use Authorization).
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“While organizations are certainly free to encourage their employees, students, and other members to be vaccinated, federal law provides that, at least until the vaccine is licensed, individuals must have the option to accept or decline to be vaccinated,” Aaron Siri writes.
A July 2021 National Law Review article adds that legal complaints are now being brought against employer mandates for COVID-19 vaccinations.
“The legal challenges have centered, in large part, on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ability to issue ’emergency use authorization’ (EUA) for medical products in certain emergency circumstances,” National Law Review notes. “This was the procedure used for approval of the COVID-19 vaccines by the FDA of three vaccines in December 2020. In each of these authorizations, the FDA imposed the ‘option to accept or refuse’ condition by requiring the distribution to potential vaccine recipients of a fact sheet that states (among other items): ‘It is your choice to receive or not receive [the vaccine]. Should you decide not to receive it, it will not change your standard medical care’.”
The Office of Legal Counsel to the President recently issued a memorandum opinion on the “option to accept or refuse” language under the EUA. The OLC memo delivered a tendentious, non-binding legal argument that favors mandates for vaccines by schools, employers and other entities.
The APWU represents more than 220,000 USPS employees and retirees, and nearly 2,000 private-sector mail workers. The union’s state and local affiliates are autonomous organizations that rely on the national union to represent their interests in contract negotiations and in national-level grievances.
OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.