Two powerful business groups, the National Association of Manufacturers and the National Retail Federation, stopped short of endorsing President Biden’s plan requiring large companies to mandate vaccinations on Thursday.
NAM, in a statement, was adamant in its support of nationwide vaccination efforts, though it indicated concern about the potential implications of Biden’s plan in the workplace. NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons asserted any requirement should be rolled out in a way that would not negatively impact operations.
"We look forward to working with the administration to ensure any vaccine requirements are structured in a way that does not negatively impact the operations of manufacturers that have been leading through the pandemic to keep Americans safe," Timmons said in a statement. "It is important that undue compliance costs do not burden manufacturers, large and small alike."
Biden said the Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) would enforce a rule requiring companies with 100 or more employees to mandate vaccinations or conduct weekly COVID-19 testing. The White House said the rule would apply to approximately 80 million Americans.
Companies that violate the directive could face penalties of $14,000 per violation, according to a senior administration official.
NAM, which represents 14,000 companies, praised Biden "for his continued focus on getting Americans vaccinated." The advocacy group began requiring its own employees to be vaccinated as of mid-September.
"Getting all eligible Americans vaccinated will, first and foremost, reduce hospitalizations and save lives. But it is also an economic imperative in that our recovery and quality of life depend on our ability to end this pandemic," Timmons added.
Biden’s plan also drew a muted response from the Retail Federation, which noted its commitment to "strict health protocols" and said the industry would "continue to encourage Americans to voluntarily protect their own well-being and that of their families by getting vaccinated.
"Several of our members have implemented policies mandating vaccinations for some or all of their employees, while others are offering monetary incentives and paid time off," the NRF said. "We appreciate the administration’s commitment to ensuring workplaces are safe despite the ongoing challenges of the pandemic. We look forward to working with the Labor Department as it promulgates this rule."
Earlier in the day, the private sector vaccine requirement drew support from members of Business Roundtable, which represents the interests of dozens of the country’s largest companies, including Amazon and Apple.