President Biden called a meeting of top business leaders on Wednesday to build support for a broad vaccination mandate that will affect most American workers. The message: vaccines work and stalled adoption is slowing the economy.
Why is this important: While immunization rates have stabilized across the country, business leaders have the power to influence the decisions of their employees. Many business leaders were looking for stronger federal guidelines to build on.
- “Everyone praised the government [for] giving employers a level playing field, ”Columbia Sportswear CEO Tim Boyle, who attended the meeting, told CNBC.
- Columbia stores are located in many geographies with different pandemic rules. “How are we supposed to handle this? That’s a point of clarity… it’s a way forward,” Boyle said.
Change of heart: After Wednesday’s session with Biden, participant Molly Moon Neitzel, founder and CEO of Seattle-based Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream, told Axios that the debate over whether or not to require the vaccine for its 180 employees is finished.
- Now it will – after the Ministry of Labor issues rules on the matter.
- Neitzel says 96% of its employees are vaccinated, but the company’s seasonality means it will hire around 100 more workers in the new year. “I’m grateful that this mandate is in place, so I can just make it a requirement of the job,” she adds.
Catch up quickly: Biden presented a six-point plan last week that included a requirement for all federal employees to be vaccinated – without testing alternatives – and for private sector companies with more than 100 employees to ensure their employees be vaccinated or tested weekly.
Inventory: The Labor Department is developing an emergency rule that will apply to private sector employees included in the mandate, Biden said at a press conference after the meeting.
- With details Regarding costs and the app yet to be worked out, Biden listened to attendees and was open to criticism, Boyle told CNBC.
- The president approached the meeting with curiosity and humility, added Neitzel. In particular, he wanted to know what had worked for the business leaders in the room.
Biden publicly cited comments from Wall Street companies like Goldman Sachs and Moody’s, who have said the vaccinations will have a positive impact on jobs and the economy.
- “Employers want the virus to go away, [in order] for the economy to come back. The virus absolutely runs the economy, ”said Neitzel.
What they say : “We need the private sector and nonprofits to work to close the immunization gap in our communities,” Kaiser Permanente CEO Greg Adams said in a statement to Axios after the meeting. “[W]We are asking other organizations… to force the vaccine on their employees.
The bottom line: Mandates drive up vaccination rates.
- Kaiser Permanente says its employees’ vaccination rate rose from 78% to 90% after putting in place a requirement.