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Biden Gives Federal Workers a Choice on Vaccinations

Employees must show proof or face new rules, as administration seeks $100 incentives
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 29, 2021 4:50 PM CDT
Biden Gives Federal Workers a Choice on Vaccinations
President Biden holds a note card that has the number of US deaths related to COVID-19 as he speaks in the East Room of the White House on Thursday.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

(Newser) – President Biden will try to raise the nation's coronavirus vaccination rates by pressuring the people who work for him. More than 2 million federal workers and roughly another 2 million contractors will have to get vaccinated or be subject to newly enacted testing, masking, and distancing rules, the Washington Post reports. The employees will have to wear a mask at work, stay physically distant from other people on the job, and be tested for the coronavirus at least once a week. The president made the announcement Thursday afternoon at the White House. "We all want our lives to get back to normal, and fully vaccinated workplaces will make that happen more quickly and more successfully," Biden said, per the New York Times. "We all know that in our gut. With incentives and mandates, we can make a huge difference and save a lot of lives."

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Biden's proposal could hit a wall. Unions representing federal workers immediately expressed opposition, per the Post. The president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association said the requirement is an infringement on his 26,000 members' civil rights. "There will be a lot of pushback," he said, calling for incentives instead of a mandate. The American Federation of Teachers, which has 200,000 members who are health care workers, said that everyone should be vaccinated but that a policy like this is a matter for collective bargaining. Also Thursday, the administration announced it's asking states and cities to pay a $100 incentive to anyone who gets vaccinated. The Treasury Department said it's changed the rules governing the use of federal rescue funding and wants local governments to use that money for the payments, per USA Today. (Read more President Biden stories.)

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