General Electric Co.
, Pacific Union Corp.
and other large employers have suspended Covid-19 vaccine requirements for workers after a U.S. court ruling blocked the Biden administration’s plan to require vaccines for federal contractors.
A federal judge issued a nationwide preliminary injunction on Tuesday after finding that the federal government procurement law did not give the administration clear authority to impose vaccine rules on contractors. Federal government lawyers filed a notice of appeal on Thursday.
President Biden signed an executive order in September requiring employees of government contractors to be vaccinated. Under published federal guidelines, contractors were required to be fully immunized by Jan. 18, unless they were entitled to accommodation for a religious belief or disability. Recent interpretations of the mandate have led some large defense contractors such as Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc., the Navy’s largest shipbuilder, to relax or abandon the need for personnel ahead of the decision.
GE has suspended implementation of the decree in response to the preliminary injunction, a company spokeswoman said. Existing programs to educate and encourage workers to get vaccinated are continuing, she said.
US rail operators, who had faced legal challenges from unions representing their employees, also suspended their mandates. A Union Pacific spokeswoman said the company still encourages employees to report their immunization status and get vaccinated. As of December 8, 73% of Union Pacific workers were fully immunized and 7% are underway, the spokesperson said.
BNSF Railway Co., owned by Berkshire Hathaway Inc.,
also suspended his mandate. “With this decision impacting all BNSF sites – and given that the BNSF’s position remains that the decision to get vaccinated is a personal one – we cannot continue on the current path without more certainty on the timing and application of the federal contractor’s mandate, “said a spokeswoman.
Norfolk South Corp.
said he was suspending the application of a vaccination warrant and would not discipline employees who are not vaccinated.
However, other employers maintain the mandates. Raytheon Technologies Corp. maintains its policy of vaccinating U.S. employees as part of “protecting our employees and our communities, and maintaining our ability to meet the needs of our customers,” the defense contractor said, adding that it would provide accommodations in accordance with applicable laws. .
Southwest Airlines Co.
told employees he was not changing his vaccination policy and told them to get vaccinated by Jan. 4 or to request accommodation for medical or religious reasons.
“We are closely monitoring this litigation and similar proceedings across the country, and we expect appeals and other legal proceedings to take place before a final decision is made,” according to a note Wednesday to operations employees. from Southwest. “This process could take several more months.”
Write to Paul Ziobro at Paul.Ziobro@wsj.com
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