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Wisconsin manufacturer data go well with towards Biden administration's new OSHA vaccine mandate - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

A Wisconsin manufacturer filed suit Thursday to block the Biden administration from instituting COVID-19 vaccine mandates for private-sector workers.

Darien-based Tankcraft Corp. and Plasticraft Corp. made the move hours after guidance on the mandates was published by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The new OSHA rule requires businesses with 100 or more employees to ensure each of their employees is fully vaccinated or undergoes weekly COVID-19 testing. Companies that do not comply will face financial penalties. 

"The order is unconscionable. OSHA does not know how to run our companies. We do," said Steve Fettig, Secretary and Treasurer of Tankcraft and Plasticraft. "OSHA does not know how to keep our employees safe. We do. And we have done so successfully since the start of the pandemic without the interference of a federal bureaucracy. We respect our employees’ fundamental right to make their own private, difficult medical choices."

In looking to stay the rules, the two firms said they had to "decide between two impossible choices. If they imposed the mandate, they will lose employees who do not wish to be vaccinated or tested weekly and precious days of productivity due to testing, vaccinations, and vaccine side effects," the suit said.

But if they failed to comply, "they will face staggering fines from OSHA."

The conservative law firm Wisconsin Institute of Law and Liberty filed the suit with the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago. Normally cases must be filed in district court but certain claims against OSHA can go straight through to a federal appeals court. 

The lawsuit challenges the authority and rationale for OSHA to issue the mandate using the Emergency Temporary Standard.

The suit claims: "If OSHA can use this authority to force 80 million American workers to

vaccinate or test weekly, then it is hard to imagine what OSHA could not

order. American businesses could be ordered to monitor and intervene in

virtually any employee behavior that might pose a risk to others, whether

directly related to the workplace or not."

A U.S. Department of Labor spokesperson responded to the suit in a statement to the Journal Sentinel:

“The evidence shows us that unvaccinated employees are in grave danger of contracting COVID-19 from exposure to contagious people in the workplace and facing serious illness or death, and that vaccination or weekly testing and face coverings are necessary to protect them. This rule is well within OSHA’s authority under the OSH Act, and consistent with OSHA’s requirements to protect workers," the spokesperson said. 

“The OSH Act was adopted to ensure every working person in the country has safe and healthy working conditions. That law gives OSHA the authority to act quickly in an emergency to address grave danger faced by workers when a standard is necessary to protect them."  

The Biden administration has said the rules will withstand legal challenges. In a briefing Wednesday night with reporters, a senior administration official said "the Emergency Temporary Standard is well within OSHA’s authority under the law and consistent with OSHA’s requirements to protect workers from health and safety hazards, including infectious diseases."  

"A virus that has killed more than 745,000 Americans, with more than 70,000 new cases per day currently, is clearly a health hazard that poses a grave danger to workers," the official said.

Tankcraft hosted then-Vice President Mike Pence during a campaign appearance in 2020.

Bill Glauber of the Journal Sentinel contributed to this report. 

Contact Drake Bentley at (414) 391-5647 or DBentley1@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DrakeBentleyMJS. 

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