• Fri. Jun 24th, 2022

Colorado entrepreneurs sue Denver over vaccination warrant

Dive brief:

  • Alleging that the vaccine mandates for contractors are unconstitutional, the Colorado Contractors Association is suing the city of Denver for requiring public contract workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • In a case filed in the U.S. Federal District Court for Colorado, the CCA and six other construction associations argued that the warrant violated the contractual clause of the U.S. Constitution because it significantly infringed on existing contractual rights of companies with the city.
  • Tony Milo, executive director of the CCA, said the organization is not anti-vaccine, but Denver’s tenure is too restrictive of President Joe Biden’s executive order that companies with 100 or more employees must require vaccinations or subject their employees to regular testing. “Our members are pro vaccines,” Milo told Construction Dive. “We have met with officials in Denver and suggested replicating the Biden plan, which is much more doable. But they flatly rejected all of our requests.”

Dive overview:

A spokesperson for the Denver City Attorney’s Office declined to comment, citing a policy of not speaking publicly about pending litigation. TTrade associations expect the city to issue fines to businesses of up to $ 5,000 a day if they don’t comply, according to the lawsuit.

Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock, who is named in the costume, issued the vaccination warrant August 2, with a September 30 deadline for compliance. The order covers city employees and contractors as well as health care, correctional and education workers.

Milo said contractors had not had enough time to comply, due to high rates of vaccine reluctance among construction workers. According to CPWR, a nonprofit group focused on construction safety, only 57% of construction workers are vaccinated, compared to 80% for all other industries. In Colorado, that number is 64.9%.

“We have a large Hispanic and minority workforce, and it has been difficult for us as employers to educate workers on the facts about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine,” Milo said. “We are continuing to work on it, but it will take some time.”

According to Bureau of Labor StatisticsNationally, 88.6% of construction workers identify as white, while 30% are Hispanic or Latino, a measure of ethnicity, not race.

The CCA lawsuit argues that “up to half of construction industry employees are reluctant to get vaccinated – not because, as can be argued, they have some political opposition, but because he construction industry is largely made up of communities of color who are vaccinated hesitantly due to mistrust of the government.

A manpower problem

Milo said the mandate effectively requires companies to lay off hard-to-replace workers who are not vaccinated. “If we lose workers because of these vaccination warrants, there is no one to replace them,” Milo said. “We’re going to have to figure out how to do projects, which will increase the costs of the projects. It will increase the time it will take to do these projects.”

The lawsuit represents a tangible setback on construction vaccine mandates, about which major construction associations have also voiced concerns. But it also represents the fine line that construction companies must cross while encouraging workers to get vaccinated, while lobbying against vaccination mandates.

For example, the Builders and associated contractors reacted to OSHA’s next emergency temporary standard focused on COVID-19 vaccinations for workers.

“Despite the efforts of a range of stakeholders, reluctance to vaccinate remains a continuing and complicated reality in countless industries,” said Ben Brubeck, vice president of regulatory, labor and state affairs. ‘ABC, in a statement. “The way the ETS is designed will have significant and lasting impacts by driving workers away from large companies and disrupting construction projects without increasing the vaccination rate.”

Neither the ABC nor the Colorado branch of the Associated General Contractors of America, which also argued for construction workers to be vaccinated, were parties to the Colorado lawsuit.

The reluctance to vaccinate is not limited to the US construction industry. In Australia, the government recently closed construction sites in Melbourne when protests against compulsory vaccines for construction workers turned violent.

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