It could cost businesses $14,000 per employee per day to not mandate vaccines

CHAMBERSBURG — In the wake of President Biden’s vaccine mandates regarding businesses that have 100 employees or more, the impact really can be felt locally.

The president has said, through OSHA, private employers that have 100 or more employees, those employees must get vaccinated or take a weekly test.

State Representative Paul Schemel joined Pat Ryan and Michele Jansen Friday on First News for his reaction to the president’s address to the nation.

Schemel said, “I was astounded by the president’s remarks last night. It’s an outrageous grab of power and infringement on our personal liberties, but what really strikes me, in regard to the virus and vaccines. The vaccines are 83 percent effective against all known variants. In his own speech he says this is all about the unvaccinated so now he’s going to mandate — he’s going to force or compel private citizens to do things to protect themselves. He’s using OSHA to do this, which I think is absolutely a dubious use of that and believe the courts will probably strike that down. After a week of belly aching about the state of Texas using private citizens to enforce their own regulations in regard to the abortion laws, what does the president do? He’s using private companies to enforce his own regulations about vaccine mandates, so what’s good for the goose is never good for the gander, apparently.”

Jansen said it’s kind of similar to what Governor Wolf has done with mask mandates in schools — going through the Secretary of Health to get his wishes upheld, just like the president has done with the vaccine mandates. “This is very dangerous,” she said.

“It’s coercive,” Schemel said. “What the president’s doing with private industry, because he has no authority to be able to dictate what a private citizen does working for a private company. He can’t punish you. As an individual, he can’t punish you. So what he’s saying is well we’re going to use this coercive power through OSHA, through federal regulation that regulates safety standards in businesses and we’re going to punish the business. So the business is going to be punished $14,000 a day if its employees don’t do what we say that they should do. So it’s forcing these businesses to become their henchmen.”

The government has the direct ability to do things through the constitution or legitimately passed laws.

Schemel said, “In this case they’re not using any of that. They’re using regulations and regulatory agencies. Governor Wolf did it last week using the Secretary of Health and a very broad language and legislation regard to sort of broadly determining what health standards should be in schools and then now this week, yesterday, the President of the United States using federal guidelines for health and safety standards at work places…so they’re using really broad language and legislation to make you, force you to do very specified things. That what? That they know that they’re never going to convince the legislature to actually do. To make laws to do this. So because they know they can’t get the legislature to do it, they’re doing it through these broad powers in a backdoor sort of way.”

Jansen said, “Here’s my theory that I’ve been developing over this past couple of weeks. It seems like the Democrat Party in particular because I see them doing this where they have control, whether it’s at our borough level here in Chambersburg or whether it’s at the state level with Wolf or whether it’s at the federal level with Biden, they’re using fear and intimidation and uncertainty to force people to do what they want because people could easily say well there’s no way they can police every business around the country and we know that’s true. They probably can’t. But it’s that fear. It’s that fear that you’ll have one employee that’s going to report you to OSHA. We have the problem here with this new nondiscrimination law they want to put in because we’ve given unbelievable authority or power to the Human Relations Commission in Pennsylvania, which doesn’t really have the ability to set laws, but they set guidance and if one employee decides to press that and say oh well you violated the guidance of the Human Relations Commission, well suddenly you’re in the news as maybe being somebody who’s racist or who’s homophobic. So it doesn’t even really even matter whether the law is there, it’s this threat. This uncertainty and threat that hangs over your head that forces you to behave in ways they want you to behave. This is really very disturbing.”

Schemel said, “We had this last year with the governor’s actions in regard to private businesses like restaurants. There was a threat. Well we don’t have the right to do this, but you know what? We have the right to issue licenses and we’re going to take away your license. And recall he set up a tip line so that private citizens could call and tattle on businesses and sort of become the businesses agents in enforcing these guidelines, which were never passed through the legislative process. These were never made laws. This is regulations that one person, one secretary, or in the case of the Human Relations Commission or what they’re trying to achieve in the borough of Chambersburg, one small panel of unelected individuals. These are all encroachments on our liberties. After four years of Democrats complaining about Trump and making these outrageous claims that he’s was a dictator. In all respects, I can’t recall any time that Trump didn’t do anything other than try to expand the liberties of private citizens. But here we have not even a year into his presidency, the president taking unprecedented personal power that limits your liberties. Every time the government, whether it’s state or federal or local, gets bigger, more powerful, we as citizens, we get less powerful. That’s the only way they can derive power is through the use of these agencies and unelected boards.”

Jansen said, “The idea of America, of the United States, is we are rule of law country where no person should be treated differently and we can count on clear standards, clear laws so that we know when we’re in violation and then that law can be applied, we can have consequences to that based on these clear standards, these clear laws. We are moving so far away from that. This truly, you could almost say this is mob tactics. Again, fear and intimidation and uncertainty. I just can’t believe that we’re here and I can’t believe that people are being so obtuse not to see this and why do we not see our elected representatives standing up more strongly against this?”

Schemel said, “Our government is a government by consent of the governed. So when we as private citizens, we determine the parameters of what that will be and when we have agencies, executive agencies, secretaries within the department, by that I mean cabinet secretaries either in the state or federal government, then dictating what the law will be, that’s not government by the consent of the governed. That’s not using the legislative process to come up with laws and then have them passed through the House and Senate and signed by the governor or the president.”

In terms of elected representatives standing up to this, they are also beholden to the law.

Schemel said, “In regard to the governor’s mask mandates, we’re exploring all avenues that we have to work as a legislature through the law, to what constitutionally we can do. There’s some hesitancy we have to go through the courts because the state Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has upheld the governor’s orders and every time they uphold the governor’s orders, that codifies those misdeeds or what I would think use of over-expanse of power on the part of the governor now becomes part of our law through common law. So there is some hesitancy on our part to take everything to court because we always seem to lose in our elected state Supreme Court.”

In terms of local ramifications of what the president has done, he’s using OSHA, which applies to any employer of 100 or more — Manitowoc, Frick, JLG fall into that — they will now be penalized to the tune of $14,000 per employee per day if they don’t insist that their employees either be vaccinated or submit to weekly tests.

That will surely be challenged in court.

Schemel said, “But if you’re an employer, what are you going to do? Are you going to roll the dice and see what happens in the courts months down the road or are you going to tell your employees today you all have to be vaccinated. That’s where the coercive power of government, using federal regulations that’s not even intended for this purpose comes into play. I do feel a little bad for them because they have to make a decision this morning. Are they going to roll the dice and see what the courts do and let their employees be free? Or are they going to say to their employees look, I hate this, I hate it too, but I’m sorry, you’re going to have to get vaccinated or you’re going to have to submit to these weekly invasive tests. That is terrible that our government, that our president has put us in that situation, has put those private employers in that situation, but lots of people here in Franklin County will be impacted by it beginning this morning.”

Can the employee do a home test? And who pays for it?

Some retailers have said there will be home tests provided at a reduced cost, but it’s still unclear who pays for the testing.

Schemel said, “I’m an employer. I don’t have 100 employees. I would say to the government to go pound sand. I’m not Manitowoc. They’ve got thousands of employees. They’ve got to make a big decision. I know this will be challenged in court. I personally think, just legally, I think it fails. I think the court will strike it down, but that takes time. When you’re an employer, you’ve got to deal in certainties and money and you don’t necessarily have the ability to say well I’m going to wait and see what happens. In the interim I might incur millions of dollars in fines from the federal government under OSHA.”

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