The stories of Siemens (and other) employees who are being knuckled under by their companies mandating they take a COVID vaccine or be fired continue to roll in. As we learned from my colleague Bonchie, despite the stay issued by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on November 6, Joe Biden is simply doubling down, continuing his push for corporations to move forward in its “get vaxxed or get axed” stance, as though there was no court injunction. Biden is even signaling that he will force small businesses (less than 100 employees) to do the same!
The mandate has only been filed into the Office of the Federal Register since November 4, and was blocked within five days, reflecting the commitment and resolve of the Republican Attorneys General and many employers to see this government overreach stopped.
The mandate has listed several policy templates to assist businesses in vaccinating and testing their workforce. It also lists employers and workplaces that are covered or excluded by the ETS. Companies with more than 100 employees must require staff to be vaccinated before the 4th of January. Unvaccinated employees must submit weekly negative Covid-19 tests, or they will be proscribed from entering the workplace. Unvaccinated workers will be required to wear masks in workplaces as well.
The petition to challenge the mandate was submitted by the Republican Attorney Generals from Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah. The challengers cited statutory and constitutional issues of the mandate.
Frankie (not his real name), is a Siemens research engineer and long-time employee. His son also works for Siemens, as Frankie indicates in his letter. Even if the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals shuts down Biden’s vaccine mandate, there is still the wholesale destruction of trust between Siemens and its employees, and the subsequent fallout from it. Many quality, long-term employees have already opted to retire or resign, and who replaces them is unclear, particularly since the skill level and expertise required for their jobs is not prevalent in the marketplace. Then there is the sheer uncertainty and confusion among employees, and even some management, that has resulted because of the ever shifting goal posts on the mandate.
Essentially, Frankie wants the world to know that the Siemens employees are not doing okay, and the only clear resolution is for company’s to back down and refuse to comply with the mandate.
Here is Frankie’s letter in its entirety. It has been edited for clarity and contains some of my analysis at certain points.
Good day, Jennifer.
I am very willing to speak, although anonymously as possible, about what has been happening with the vaccine mandates and how Siemens has been dealing with this issue. When COVID hit in early 2020, I was one of two or three other people who were in our facility every day doing what was needed to aid in people working from home. The way that they have handled this feels like an ultimate betrayal.
This is reminiscent of the first responders: doctors, nurses, police, EMTs, people who put their lives at risk before there was a COVID vaccine, and are now unceremoniously being shown the door because they refuse this mandate. The sheer coldness of the act is unconscionable.
As for my wife, she is unaffected as she is visually impaired and went on disability last year so what she earns pays for most of our utilities. Being on Medicare ensures that she will be taken care of. Myself, I’ll be going without health insurance once again if this all comes to fruition.
We are not wealthy by any means but have been graced enough to be almost completely debt free. That makes it easier for us to get by but what sickens us is the people who are not in as good of condition as we are, that they have to deal with this in an even more urgent manner. My son, who is also unvaccinated and works here at Siemens, had to try to get an exemption. He bought his first house last year and if he gets terminated will have a massive struggle to get by. I have enough savings to make his mortgage payments for a few months if needed but I am hopeful that it will not need to come to that.
From my perspective, the stress has been immense. My blood pressure has been so high that I had to start taking medications to keep it partially under control. We’ve frozen our spending and have set a food budget of between $50.00 and $60.00 a week. If we can maintain those levels then we’ll be able to ride it out for a year. I like your Red Beans and Fried Rice [Podcast]. We’ve been prepping for years, so it is a lot of beans and rice to go along with our meager store visits.
We are not sure if the stay through the federal Court of Appeals is not going to have any impact on how Siemens is handling this “mandate.” Rather than go with the OSHA guidelines, they are deferring to an executive order that changed the wording of federal contracts requiring federal contractors to have a vaccinated workforce. The State of Tennessee passed a handful of laws a week ago that might have some impact on drawing unemployment, which will be a godsend. They also passed a law restricting vaccine mandates, but Siemens responded with, “Federal law trumps state law.”
This is a categorically untrue and a dodge by Siemens. According to The National Constitutional Center:
At a federal level, the vaccine mandate question is more complicated. With few exceptions, the CRS says there are no laws that allow the federal government to issue a vaccine mandate to the general population. These exceptions include requiring proof of vaccination for immigrants requesting permanent resident status and vaccine mandates for military service members—allowing for certain exemptions. Recently, President Joe Biden ordered federal employees and contractors to attest to getting vaccinated or undergo weekly testing and other safety protocols.
Under the Constitution’s Spending Clause, Congress could provide financial incentives for states to enact mandates. It could also regulate vaccine requirements related to interstate travel under the Commerce Clause. But any federal actions to enforce or incentivize vaccine mandates may face legal challenges based on the 10th Amendment’s prohibition on commandeering or forcing states to use their own resources to carry out federal policies.
One of the arguments the plaintiffs used to persuade the Circuit Court judges to issue the stay involved the questionable tactics that OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has used in crafting the hastily-issued mandate:
[T]he federal government has no general authority to protect public health, control communicable diseases, or require vaccination, all of which are primarily state responsibilities. The administration therefore presented the vaccine mandate as an “emergency temporary standard” (ETS) issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which is charged specifically with protecting employees from workplace hazards. As the 5th Circuit indicated, that legal strategy leaves the mandate open to challenge on both statutory and constitutional grounds.
The federal government knows exactly what it is doing to make an end-run around the Constitution. Siemens has enough lawyers on its payroll to have done the research as well. But as referenced in RedState’s first exclusive on Siemens’ history, ensuring the company maintains its cozy relationship with the United States government and maintains its monied contracts appears to be the driving factor behind its decisions, as Frankie has come to recognize:
When questioned further as to which federal law was being referenced, they spoke of the executive order. An EO is not a law. We think that they are flying by the seat of their pants and waiting to see what happens much like we are. All the while, we are here wondering whether or not Dec. 8th is our last day or if it will get pushed back to January 4th. Either way, it will be a sucky Christmas or an unhappy new year.
I certainly want to keep this issue front and center. My son has been the point person on dealing with HR. He has been asking the hard questions and in fairness, they have been answering honestly. I’m waiting to see if they will actually terminate one of their top-tier and highly respected people. Doesn’t make it easy, but I will fall on principle if I must.
If this battle has shown anything, it’s that certain states and the federal government have no principles. Frankie has also pleaded his case to his state representative, U.S. Senator, the Governor, and the Attorney General.
In light of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals stay, Siemens issued this half-hearted pivot on the enforcement dates.
But make no mistake, they continue to be in league with the federal government in ensuring the mandates are enforced as the new “timeline” shows.
After sending me the above email, Frankie made this astute assessment:
This sentence is very telling IMHO. They started day 1 with threats of termination. Now they thank us for dedication and loyalty? They are distancing themselves from the OSHA TCA and opting for the contract aspect.
“We assure you that everyone involved is working extremely hard to find the best approaches to these very complex issues. Our objective is to retain every employee. We do not want to lose anyone over this mandate. We thank you for your continued dedication and loyalty to the company.”
Just like the stench of their collusion with the Nazis, and their fraud and corruption, Siemens will not be able to back pedal on its betrayal of loyal employees or remove the stain of its craven malfeasance.