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'I've met a lot of resistance.' Job seekers push back against COVID vaccine mandate

Posted at 1:19 PM, Sep 14, 2021

(WXYZ) — The majority of the American workforce, including many federal employees, will soon be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine, leaving unvaccinated workers with fewer options for employment.

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But the mandate does not impact many other workers, including some fast food employees and members of Congress.

Under this new order from President Joe Biden, any company with 100 or more employees will be required to mandate the vaccine, or offer weekly testing.

“I’ve met a lot of resistance, I’ve had two people get quite angry with me to be honest with you,” said Gail Smith, staffing manager at Snelling Staffing Services in Roseville.

Gail Smith, staffing manager at Snelling Staffing Services
Gail Smith, staffing manager at Snelling Staffing Services

Smith said some of her employers are now requiring the vaccine, and applicants are not happy.

"It's been 100 percent of the candidates I’ve spoken with. Nobody has said, 'sure no problem,' they all had hesitations,” she said.

Many of those interviews were for custodial positions in a hospital or school settings, where vaccines have been required. But now, since the majority of the agency’s clients have more than 100 employees, Smith expects to face that pushback more often.

Michigan First-Dose Tracker
Michigan First-Dose Tracker

"Just going to see how this plays out over the next few weeks and I don't think anyone knows at this point, but I can see the direction we’re going in and people are not comfortable,” said Smith.

Even though large chains like McDonald's may have more than 100 employees, most are run by individual franchisees. It’s now up to them, whether they will mandate the vaccine

"This is another huge burden placed on small business,” said Misty Chally, executive director of the Coalition of Franchisee Associations.

Misty Chally, executive director of the Coalition of Franchisee Associations
Misty Chally, executive director of the Coalition of Franchisee Associations

Chally says it’s still unclear how many franchisees the order impacts as they wait for more answers on how it will be enforced.

“I think I’ve been on like eight or nine calls since Friday to talk about how this will be implemented and the answer is nobody knows. And these are calls with government officials,” said Chally.

New websites like novaxmandate.org provide an online job board just for employers who don’t require the vaccine. Already, there’s a handful of openings listed in metro Detroit.

"I will sign an executive order that will now require all executive branch federal employees to be vaccinated — all," said President Biden during a press conference.

The mandate also extends to federal employees, but only those under the executive branch, meaning members of Congress and their staff aren’t included.

Congresswoman Lisa McClain
Congresswoman Lisa McClain

“I’m not for mandates at any level, whether it’s the government level, business level or personal level,” said Congresswoman Lisa McClain.

McClain, a Republican from Romeo, is pushing back on the mandate for employers and federal workers. In August, 20 members of congress wrote a letter to the attending Capitol physician, urging him to mandate the vaccine for Congress. While the exact number is unclear, the majority of Congress confirmed to CNN they were already vaccinated.

“I did get vaccinated, but, again, that was my individual choice that I made with a healthcare professional,” said McClain.

Kim Pagel, branch manager at Snelling Staffing Services
Kim Pagel, branch manager at Snelling Staffing Services

“We’re going to have to look at changing our procedures,” said Kim Pagel, branch manager at Snelling Staffing Services.

In the meantime, Snelling will likely add vaccine status to their screening questions, as more companies decide whether to mandate the vaccine, and potential employees decide whether they want the job.

"They’re getting really uncomfortable. They don't want to miss out on the job, but they’re torn. They’re very torn,” said Smith.

It will be up to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to enforce this order, and it will likely take a few weeks for them to issue their rules.