Issued January 13, 2022
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: JANUARY 13, 2022
WASHINGTON, D.C — On Thursday, the Supreme Court delivered conflicting decisions for frontline workers, affirming the Biden administration’s rule requiring universal vaccination for most health care workers while blocking another rule requiring large employers to require workers to get a COVID-19 vaccine or a weekly test. Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employee International Union, responded with the following statement:
“From the beginning of this pandemic nearly two years ago, frontline workers in hospitals, airports, schools and other essential roles serving their communities have been demanding personal protective equipment (PPE) and other commonsense safeguards from their employers against COVID-19.
The Supreme Court’s action today in upholding universal vaccination for most health care workers is a relief for caregivers who have been at greatest risk of exposure to COVID and burnout during this pandemic – but it is not enough. In blocking the vaccine-or-test rule for large employers, the court has placed millions of other essential workers further at risk, caving to corporations that are trying to rig the rules against workers permanently. Essential workers, especially those in Black, brown, indigenous and immigrant communities, have borne the brunt of this pandemic. They have been called essential, but are being treated as sacrificial, even by this nation’s highest court at this time of greatest need.
SEIU members have strongly supported universal vaccination as a goal that protects all of us – workers, their families, and the most vulnerable in every community – and have applauded the Biden Administration's plan to get us there. Today’s ruling caves to corporate special interests and leaves millions of essential workers without essential protections.
In light of the Supreme Court’s callous abandonment of millions of essential workers, Congress and states must act with urgency to require employers to protect all workers, including with universal vaccination, paid time off, mask mandates, broader access to testing and PPE, fair wages and safe staffing levels to improve care and combat burnout.”
The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) unites 2 million diverse members in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. SEIU members working in the healthcare industry, in the public sector and in property services believe in the power of joining together on the job to win higher wages and benefits and to create better communities while fighting for a more just society and an economy that works for all of us, not just corporations and the wealthy.