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ABC mounts legal challenge to OSHA vaccine mandate

The Associated Builders and Contractors is seeking to overturn the Biden Administration’s vaccine mandate with a legal challenge filed this week.

The ABC and its Alabama chapter on Tuesday filed a petition for review in the 11th Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals, arguing the mandate “irreperably harms” construction industry employers. The trade group had previously said it was examining its options in response to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s publishing an emergency rule last week requiring large employers to vaccinate their workers by Jan. 4, or face penalties.

A variety of states, trade associations and other interests have also challenged the agency’s order in court. In a statement, Steve Klessig, 2021 chair of ABC’s board of directors and an executive at Kaukauna-based Keller, said the OSHA vaccine mandate would cause “unnecessary tension” between employers and their employees during the ongoing recovery from the pandemic.

“The OSHA ETS rule presents one of the greatest sources of risk and uncertainty to the construction industry because it is likely to exacerbate the skilled labor shortage currently facing the industry and many small businesses like my company,” Klessig said.

OSHA’s vaccine mandate affects an estimated 84 million American workers, requiring them to get vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 tests. Companies that don’t comply with the order could be hit with fines ranging as high as $14,000 for each employee. Biden administration officials have argued the mandate is needed to avoid having a patchwork of local rules and to slow the spread of the virus.

OSHA is also calling federal contractors and subcontractors to show by Dec. 8 that their workers have been fully vaccinated.

“ABC’s hope is that this legal challenge will encourage the justice system to examine this overreach, realize its irreparable harm to the construction industry and rule it unlawful,” said Ben Brubeck, ABC vice president of regulatory, labor and state affairs.

About Nate Beck, [email protected]

Nate Beck is The Daily Reporter's construction staff writer. He can be reached at (414) 225-1814 (office) or 414-388-5635 (mobile).

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