Federal Workers Union Urges Biden to Postpone His Vaccine Mandate Deadline

By Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Reporter
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.
November 9, 2021 Updated: November 10, 2021

A union representing more than 700,000 federal workers on Tuesday called on President Joe Biden to delay a Nov. 22 COVID-19 vaccination deadline to Jan. 4 to align with a date set for contractors.

The “urgent request” from the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) comes after the White House pushed back the deadline for government employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19, from Dec. 8 to Jan. 4 to line up with a similar requirement for large businesses.

“Setting different compliance deadlines for employees vis-à-vis contractors is both harmful to morale and substantively unjustified,” the labor union wrote in a letter, noting that contractors and federal employees often work together.

“This double standard has caused confusion and distress among federal employees,” AFGE President Everett Kelley said.

“It is inexcusable that contractors are being given the entire holiday season to meet the mandates, while federal employees continue to be subject to the Nov. 22 deadline,” he added. “The effect upon morale of federal employees being subject to possible discipline at this time of the year cannot be overstated.”

Some 4 million federal workers will be impacted by Biden’s vaccine mandate, which requires that they receive their final dose by Nov. 8 in order to be considered fully vaccinated by the Nov. 22 deadline.

Those who fail to comply with the requirement, barring medical or religious exemptions, face “discipline, up to and including termination or removal.”

Responding to the AFGE letter, a White House Office of Management and Budget spokesperson told Reuters that the “purpose of this requirement is to protect the federal workforce.”

The Epoch Times has contacted the Biden administration for additional comment.

Kelley added that they “share the administration’s goal of beating the pandemic and appreciate the vital role of vaccination in this effort,” but noted that federal workers should be able to complete the holiday season without the “threat of discipline looming over them.”

“AFGE also expects the holidays will be an excellent time for federal employees to contemplate these important decisions, and the New Year to be a time of renewal and commitment to the important work we face in the coming year,” he wrote.

According to a survey conducted between Oct. 27 and Nov. 2 by the Government Business Council, the research arm of news outlet Government Executive, some 53 percent of 3,186 respondents strongly or somewhat disagreed with the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for federal employees, while 44 percent strongly or somewhat agreed with it.

“I am not pro or anti-vaccine, I am pro-choice,” an anonymous federal employee wrote in the survey’s comments section. “It should be a choice not a mandate, last I knew this was a free country.”

Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.