SPRINGERVILLE — Every employee of the Springerville Generating Station will be required by the federal government to be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus and a meeting about that brought a protest and demonstration near the plant on Wednesday, Nov. 10.

According to the Salt River Project website (which owns one of the four units at the plant) UNS Energy Corporation, parent company of Tucson Electric Power, operates the plant. TEP owns two of the units there. Susan Gray, president and CEO of UNS Energy was expected to have a “town hall” style meeting with plant employees on Nov. 10 to discuss the mandates. She sent out a letter announcing the meeting and a copy was sent to the Independent. According to the UNS Energy website, the corporation is not affiliated with UniSource Energy, Inc., an Illinois company, which provides energy services to some communities here.

The generating station isn’t alone in having to comply with federal mandates, and there are actually more than one federal decree requiring vaccinations. President Biden signed an executive order on Sept. 9 which directs all federal contractors, that is, any entity that has a contract with the federal government to supply goods and services, are required to have all their employees vaccinated against COVID-19. Failure of the business to comply means no more federal contract. All federal employees are required to be vaccinated as well, including military personnel.

The second mandate comes from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) which has decreed that all businesses employing 100 persons or more to require vaccinations, or weekly testing, or else be heavily fined. The Biden Administration believes that an old law regarding asbestos in the workplace gives OSHA the authority to mandate that.

It might be noted that the mandates are not federal statutes that have been introduced, debated, and enacted by a majority vote by elected representatives; rather they are decrees by the executive branch of government — the president and an agency in the executive branch. Already another co-equal branch of government, the courts, have been asked to review the mandates to determine whether they violate the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee against government overreach, and just on Friday, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals stepped up.

With regard to the OSHA mandate, that court put a halt to it for now, and the “stay” as it’s called, applies nationwide. The circuit includes parts of Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, some of the areas hardest hit by the pandemic. “The mandate is staggeringly overbroad,” the court stated. “The mandate is a one-size-fits-all sledgehammer that makes hardly any attempt to account for differences in workplaces (and workers.)”

The court concluded that the OSHA mandate likely violates the constitutional protections of “collective liberty.” and ordered the Department of Labor (to which OSHA belongs) to take no further action to implement it until the matter can be fully briefed and its constitutionality ruled on.

Among those who choose not to be vaccinated, the government’s “sledgehammer” approach bemoaned by the court might be one reason for the hesitancy, but there are others which have been loudly expressed.

The vaccine itself, called an mRNA type, has been studied since the 1960s but the vaccines themselves are relatively new. The safety and efficacy of them seems to have been confirmed in the last year, but that brings up yet another possible explanation about why the vaccine had not been universally snapped up.

Gallup reports that polling from September 2021, shows that 60% of Americans have no trust or very little trust in the federal government, so it’s not surprising that information from the federal government, regardless of the topic, would be largely discredited.

In the meantime, the COVID-19 pandemic has infected 46,626,034 persons in the US by state, territory and jurisdiction, stated the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID Data Tracker as of Friday, Nov. 12.

That’s about 14% of the US population which the 2020 Census calculates at 329,000,000. According to the CDC tracker, total deaths from COVID-19 are 755,201 which suggests that of the 14% of Americans who get the disease, about 1.6% of them died of it. Put that way, maybe some have decided that they can live with the risk of not getting vaccinated. On the other hand, medical professionals who deal with the sickness and deaths day in and day out are simply astonished that there is any hesitancy at all.

Yet some have resolved to live with the risk and object to being required, as a condition of employment, to have any version of the mRNA vaccine introduced into their bodies.

Those objections were front and center outside Wednesday’s meeting as families of the workers demanded to be heard. “My body, my choice!” read a sign.

Besides the government’s approach being like a sledgehammer, as the Fifth Circuit wrote, the 1.6% fatality rate calculated by the CDC, Gallup’s polling showing the distrust of information from government, many predict the mandates may cause a mass exodus of managers and employees, drivers, dock workers, athletes, food service staff as well as soldiers, sailors, airmen and police.

If enforced, some see the mandates affecting a big change to the economy and society in general, especially now when there are already 10 million jobs waiting to be filled according to the latest unemployment numbers. What kind of change is yet to be seen.

Reach the reporter at rlynch@wmicentral.com

(12) comments

Bob Smith

The covid ICU at Summit is at 100% capacity. Guess how many of those patients are vaccinated? None. If that doesn't convince you to get the shot then I don't know what will...

cakeman

Bob Smith, As I previously stated, my daughter is an RN at Summit Hospital. The first, second, and third floors are FULL. The ICU is full. They are overworked and understaffed. My son-in-law is an ER doctor at another hospital in Orlando. They have people in the hallway. He has to wear a hazmat suit with a respirator. All empathy for the unvaxxed is gone from me. They are just making room (sounds better than thinning the gene pool). By now, everyone knows or knew someone who has been touched by this disease.

Darch1

This is a mistruth.

libertyminded

Looks like Darwin was correct, intelligence is a survival tool.

phxnative54

Health care providers should be free to CHOOSE not to treat Covid-19 victims who CHOSE not to get vaccinated. Fair is fair, right?

longtimeresident

While out on my walk this morning and talking with my neighbor their very strong opinion was that people who choose not to get vaccinated (Vs the very few who medically can not be vaccinated) should forfeit medical treatment if they get infected with Covid.

Tim

Of course you have a choice. Go work for a different employer or start your own business. I don’t endorse mandates, but I don’t like victim whiners either.

steelthumb

Vaccine mandates have been around since George Washington mandated smallpox vaccine for the Continental Army. While the OSHA requirement might not be structured well in the eyes of the court, there are other rulings that set precedents for upholding vaccine mandates. When court reviews are complete, it is likely that mandates will be upheld.

mag

The sad truth is that people seem to have forgotten that this is America, and many of your/our loved-ones fought and died so we could have the freedom to choose what is best for ourselves… not just in medical treatment but in all things in life!

What this really comes down to is if you got the vax…. Good! We still care for you and will respect you. But we also need to extend the freedom and respect to those who have decided for one reason or another to pass on the shot.

BTW, I have friends who work at summit and they report that while ICU is full…it is NOT full of unvaxed sick people.

My relatives died defending your/my freedoms, please let’s not be so quick to throw them away!

pxllr

Every job has rules of employment. Uniforms, hair coverings, behavior, dress code, etc. If an employer decides to have a rule requiring vaccinations, that is their right in this country. If you chose not to adhere to that rule, you are welcome to seek employment elsewhere. BTW since you refuse to follow the business's rules of employment, that should mean you are not eligible to collect Unemployment Insurance, Good luck out there. The Love Kitchen has shut down, but you can still get meals at the Re:Center.

pioneerfamily

MY BODY MY CHOICE. MY BODY MY CHOICE. MY BODY MY CHOICE.

Where have I seen those signs before???

Oh, right. Women were carrying them.

However, as second hand citizens, republican/religious freaks don't allow those women the same right.

Jordan

Well, if we want to treat a jab like an abortion lets do it. First off, it's not your body, its an individual living human being that is being murdered. Since there's a 1.5 percent chance I'll die from covid and a baby had a 100 percent chance of dying from an abortion and you want to compare. That means we should be required to get vaccinated when the covid death rate hits 100 percent. If you're vaccinated already you have nothing to worry about, you're protected already and can't spread it to others, right? If you're worried, then the vaccine doesn't work anyways so why would I get it?

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