Entrepreneurs balk at mandatory COVID vaccinations

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Defenders of the Minnesota construction industry are warning state officials that mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations on construction sites will cause costly delays and exacerbate worker shortages.

Minnesota Associate General Contractors and other associations have raised concerns after learning about a new state policy that calls on state staff, vendors and contractors to provide proof vaccination. The policy is expected to go into effect on September 8.

In an Aug. 19 letter to the MMB, construction trade groups said a test or vaccine warrant “would change the terms of construction contracts” and result in higher costs and project delays. The contractors said the state should cover these costs, which would be “significant”.

On construction sites, “workers are trained in a high safety awareness, and much of the work is done outdoors or remotely,” the letter notes. “Creating a mandate in all layers will be costly, cause delays and may simply not work, jeopardizing our core function. “

The letter is signed by representatives from AGC-Minnesota, the Minnesota Subcontractors Association, the Association of Women Contractors, and the Sheet Metal, Air Conditioning & Roofing Contractors Association.

Tim Worke, CEO of AGC-Minnesota, said in an email Tuesday that there are many unknowns when it comes to the policy.

“If an employer were to require that all trades workers under their employment be vaccinated, it would introduce a host of labor relations questions that are unclear at this time. There are so many unknowns right now because construction is different from other jobs in that it’s multi-employer, ”said Worke.

Worke also notes that subcontractors will “struggle to find teams or move people between jobs.” A disproportionate number of trades workers go unvaccinated compared to their peer groups. “

On August 20, MMB clarified that the policy generally applies to contractors and vendors who work indoors and have face-to-face contact with “state stakeholders” for more than 10 minutes at a time.

The Politics does not apply to “exterior construction, construction and land services and maintenance contracts”, although workers are expected to wear face coverings when having “face-to-face interactions with construction stakeholders. the state ”and cannot maintain social distancing, MMB said.

MMB says the policy is a response to the “security threat posed by the COVID-19 virus when unvaccinated members of state interact in person in the workplace with employees of state agencies or agencies. Minnesotans receiving state services ”.

As of August 6, more than 7,600 Minnesota residents have died from COVID-19, MMB said in a policy statement. Citing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Minnesota Department of Health, the statement said vaccination is the “best way to prevent infection” and the spread of disease.

“COVID-19 vaccines have been shown to be safe and effective. Staff who access the workplace or provide a public service outside their home on behalf of an agency without vaccination present a particular risk of exposure to COVID-19 for themselves, their colleagues and members of the staff. public, ”MMB said.

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