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Why the retail industry is fighting vaccine obligations

With the holiday shopping season coming, retailers are doing everything from price cuts to showroom purchases to bringing back customers who were at home last year. What their biggest thing is not doing is one thing the White House and many public health professionals have asked them to do: oblige their workers to vaccinate.

As other industries with public workers, such as airlines and hospitals, moved to the need for vaccines, retailers continued to blame for labor shortage concerns. And some of the country’s largest workforce remains unvaccinated, as shoppers are expected to flock to stores.

At the heart of retailer resistance is the concern that there are enough people to work. In a tough labor market, retailers are offering benefits such as higher wages and better time to future employees in the hope that they will have enough staff to staff in stores and distribution centers. increase. The National Retail Federation, the industry’s largest trade association, estimates that retailers will employ up to 665,000 seasonal workers this year.

Macy’s, for example, said it plans to hire 76,000 full-time and part-time employees this season. Retailers offer referral bonuses of up to $ 500 per friend or relative that an employee recruits to participate in it. Macy’s asked corporate staff this fall to vaccinate or test negative for Covid-19 to enter the office. But the clerk is another story.

“There are many stores with many stores, and the decision to require colleagues to vaccinate before Christmas only exacerbates the labor shortage that enters a very critical time for us,” Jeff Jennet said. say. Macy’s CEO said in an interview.

The industry showed how strongly it feels about the issue this month when the Biden administration ordered companies with more than 100 workers to require vaccines or weekly tests by January 4. Five days after the announcement, the National Retail Federation stopped working.

“We all agree that vaccines are good and that they save lives,” NRF Chief Administrative Officer Stephanie Marts said in an interview Monday.

“But likewise, you can’t just say” OK, do it. ” “

The order is now Responded to the proceedings, Can be challenged by numerous proceedings from a coalition of widespread opponents and headed to the Supreme Court. Administrative court filings warn that blocking the rule “is likely to cost dozens or hundreds of lives per day.”

Macy’s “wants to see” the order in the first quarter, said Genette, a member of the federation’s board of directors. This usually starts in February in the industry. This is the same as the federation that wants to move the deadline back a few months.

“I support it — I want to have it on a timetable that works for us,” Jennet said. “I need more time.”

Many health experts say that employee obligations are the only way to help the country get out of the pandemic, as the rampant misinformation and politics of the coronavirus helped curb vaccination rates. say. Vaccination rates for people over the age of 12 in the United States are around 69%, as low as 40% in some parts of the country. Average daily case report Increased by more than 20 percent Over the last two weeks.

“That’s a pretty big question, and no one denies it,” said Crystal Watson, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Health and Security Center, about mandating retailer employees to vaccinate. I did. “”But we have also tried many other things to help people get vaccinated — and I think the current mission is what it takes to overcome that barrier. “

Wal-Mart, the country’s largest private employer, refused to comment on federal proceedings and vaccination and testing plans. A spokeswoman for Target said the company “as soon as the details were released, it began taking the necessary steps to meet the requirements of the new Covid-19 rules for large enterprises.”

A spokesperson for several retailers on the federation’s board of directors, including Coles, Dick’s sporting goods and saxophone, declined to comment on this article.

“Employers use NRF as a cover because they feel embarrassed and embarrassed by their opposition,” said Stuart Appelbaum, chairman of the retail, wholesale and department store union.

He added: “If you choose to go to work or go to the store as a customer, choose either” All employees are vaccinated or tested “or” Who is vaccinated or tested “in another store. Do you? So, for example, Acme department stores don’t want to advertise that they are promoting bad public policy. “

Many employers in industries that require vaccines in corporate offices, such as retail Did not need them for frontline workers, Share concerns about recruitment challenges. But those workers, About 4 million in storesIs one of the most vulnerable. They interact frequently with the general public and Less likely to be vaccinated themselves.Mandatory in Tyson, United Airlines When Some healthcare companies When faced with the possibility of losing a job, employees indicate that they choose vaccination most often.

Kevin Munoz, a White House spokesman, said: “The federal government, the country’s largest employer, Implemented successfully Its requirements in a way to boost vaccination and avoid interruptions in business. “

Still, companies that require vaccines are facing protests and proceedings.In some states The proceedings were passed to prevent it..For example, Disney has paused Disney World employee obligations In Florida, after it became illegal for employers in the state to require workers to fire.

Panics and precautions related to Covid-19 occurred in retail stores during a pandemic and trapped workers.

First, there was a gap between mandatory and non-essential businesses, prompting the following chains: Guitar Center and Dillard’s To argue that they need to stay open and accept employees, despite the worsening public health crisis.Workers have been at the forefront Controversy over Maskman dating Then mask the coercion.Retail chains like REI has been criticized Employees were not notified of Covid cases at the store. Grocery shop worker Many states did not give priority access to vaccines.

“Through the pandemic, we’ve seen a self-serving message from employers who value profitability over employee health and safety,” says Appelbaum. “They have the false belief that it is better to take certain actions for the benefit.”

Business is booming for some of the biggest retailers like the goal When Walmart, The whole pandemic. And while they are still facing rising prices and supply chain tensions, executives have recently shown that pressure on staffing has diminished.

Brian Cornell, Target’s Chief Executive Officer, said: I told CNBC last week.. He added that the number of company holdings is “some of the strongest in our history”, which is due to perks and security measures.

Retailers are confident that consumers will be able to shop comfortably in stores that already have more foot traffic than in 2020, regardless of industry efforts to meet new vaccination and testing requirements. increase. Also, for those concerned about vaccination shortages, companies have stepped up their e-commerce operations and curbside pickup offerings over the past year, but in-store shopping is often more. It leads to purchases and fewer returns.

When Macy’s asked a concerned customer what to tell about shopping at the store, Jennet said: .. “

Last week, many health groups and experts, including the American Medical Association and the American Medical Association, issued statements. Encourage companies to move forward According to the rules of the Ministry of Labor.

Dr. Ashish K. Jar, Dean of the Faculty of Public Health at Brown University, one of the signatories, said: Given the nature of the employee base, Dr. Jha noted that retailers play a specific role and that it is important for companies in all industries to follow the rules. He said these measures should be taken during the holiday season, especially after the holiday season when the number of cases is expected to increase.

“Do they really want to be the place of superspreading during the holiday season, employees get sick, and employees want to take responsibility for spreading it to their customers?” Dr. Ja said.

Why the retail industry is fighting vaccine obligations

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