By Brandon Moseley
The University of Alabama System Campuses and Auburn University notified employees they must be fully vaccinated by Dec. 8 due to a legal obligation imposed unilaterally by an executive order from President Joe Biden.
The universities said the federal order requires COVID-19 vaccinations for university employees at the University of Alabama, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and Auburn University.
Speaking in Birmingham last week, Governor Kay Ivey said she opposes “the overarching mandates that the Biden administration has put in place.”
On Sept. 9, Biden signed Executive Order 14042, the focus of guidance from the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force. Through the order and guidance, the federal government requires all federal contractors and subcontractors to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for employees, including those who work at a university with federal contracts.
According to the executive order’s provisions, employees do not have to be vaccinated if they have an approved medical, disability, or religious exemption.
Because the federal government mandates the vaccination requirement, the University System issued a statement saying it does not have flexibility in its application or enforcement. Failure to comply with the federal directive would place the universities in jeopardy of losing hundreds of millions of dollars received through federal contracts and awards, as well as thousands of jobs funded by those dollars.
“This outcome would severely impact our institutions’ teaching, research, and service capabilities and could hamper economic development activity,” the universities said in a joint statement. “Understanding these serious ramifications, the University of Alabama System campuses and Auburn University notified employees today [Friday] of the vaccination requirement mandated by the federal government. In continued collaboration with educational enterprises across the state, both institutions will closely monitor the executive order and guidance.”
Many people are contacting their state legislators asking them to pass legislation forbidding employers from obeying the federal orders. The legislature is hesitant to do that because the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, as the federal courts have consistently interpreted it, makes federal law supreme over state law. State legislation that attempts to revoke a federal law likely will be overturned by the courts, legislators told 1819 News.
Biden has also ordered all members of the military and military contractors to get the COVID-19 vaccine. He has also ordered all health care providers that receive Medicare or Medicaid dollars to require their employees to receive the vaccine or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing. A fourth order that would require all employers with over 100 employees to mandate the vaccine, or be fined tens of thousands of dollars, is presently being written by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Attorney General Steve Marshall (R) is vowing to fight the federal mandates.
Authorities are concerned if skilled workers walk off their jobs or are fired due to the President’s mandates, supply chain shortages could be crippled.
The Biden administration insists the vaccine is the only way to control the pandemic, and any reported side effects from the vaccine are acceptable risks versus continuing to allow COVID-19 to spread through the population.