The grocery company, Kroger, is ending some of its perks for unvaccinated workers as vaccine mandates and policies across the country continue to adapt to the changing political and legal landscape.
As reported by The Wall Street Journal, Kroger Co. told workers last week that it will not be giving paid emergency leave for two weeks if an unvaccinated worker gets COVID-19, unless local policies obligate something different.
“Kroger will also add a $50 monthly surcharge to company health plans for unvaccinated managers and other nonunion employees, according to a memo viewed by The Wall Street Journal. Both policies are effective Jan. 1, the memo said,” The Journal noted.
Most grocery stores reportedly haven’t implemented a testing or vaccine requirement. Executives in the business note that they are cautious to substantially alter policies over concerns that employees might leave their jobs. “ They have also said costs continue to rise for labor and transportation,” the outlet added.
The Journal noted, “A Kroger spokeswoman said the company is modifying policies to encourage safe behaviors as it prepares to navigate the next phase of the pandemic, and that the changes are designed to create a healthier workplace and workforce. She said the company considered feedback from employees and customers to guide its policies, and that Kroger will continue to encourage sick employees to stay home and seek the support of a physician if they contract the coronavirus. Unvaccinated employees can take paid time off or apply for unpaid leave, she said.”
Kroger has also been encouraging employees to get the vaccine with a $100 reward.
It appeared that Kroger was potentially taking action in order to respond to the Biden Administration’s vaccine mandate administered through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The mandate would require all employers with 100 or more employees to either make sure all of their workers are vaccinated against COVID-19 or tested weekly.
The mandate was recently suspended, however, “after it was halted by injunctions from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Court found that the mandate was ‘staggeringly overbroad’ and legally dubious for multiple reasons,” The Daily Wire reported.
Last week, the U.S. Senate voted to repeal the vaccine mandate. “The 52-48 vote to repeal the mandate included all Republican senators and Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Jon Tester (D-MT),” The Daily Wire reported.
Even though the measure is not expected to pass the House — or be signed by President Joe Biden into law — it was a symbolic measure by Republicans who have pushed back against federal overreach into private businesses and the health decisions of citizens.
Other industries have taken action based on court orders regarding vaccine mandates.
Some hospital systems are starting to walk back their COVID-19 staff vaccine mandates due to recent court decisions.
As The Wall Street Journal reported, hospital groups including HCA Healthcare Inc., Tenet Healthcare Corp., and nonprofits such as AdventHealth and the Cleveland Clinic are getting rid of their mandates. According to hospital leaders, public health officials, and nursing organizations, vaccine mandates have contributed to restricting the number of healthcare employees.
The outlet also noted that the price of labor has risen, and hospitals have found it difficult to keep workers at all levels as hospitalizations increased. “More recently, thousands of nurses have left the industry or lost their jobs rather than get vaccinated. As of September, 30% of workers at more than 2,000 hospitals across the country surveyed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were unvaccinated,” reports WSJ.
After courts stopped the federal order, HCA halted its mandate. Tenet and AdventHealth also stated they wouldn’t require workers get vaccinated after the court took action. “Workers in states that mandate vaccination must comply with local laws, HCA and Tenet said,” The Journal added.
The Cleveland Clinic also said it would halt its vaccine mandate, but it would create precautions like testing for employees who are unvaccinated and tend to patients.
In late November, a federal judge in Louisiana blocked Biden’s vaccine mandate for health care workers, putting into place an injunction on the order across the country, The Daily Wire reported.
In another move in favor of healthcare workers, “[a] federal court denied Democrat President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice on Monday from being able to stop a temporary block on vaccine mandates on healthcare workers.”
The Daily Wire is fighting Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate in federal court. Join us in this fight by signing our petition to OSHA, telling them that you will not comply with this mandate.