Vaccine mandate: Wisconsin businesses weigh in

One Wisconsin employer said it will not comply with President Joe Biden's new federal vaccine mandate that asks companies with more than 100 workers to require COVID-19 vaccination or weekly testing.

That mandate could impact roughly 80 million Americans and threatens $14,000 fines per infraction.

At Drexel Building Supply in Campbellsport, Wis., the president told FOX6 News he will not require workers to get the shot and said weekly COVID-19 tests would be a burden.

"I’m not going to tell them they’re going to get a shot. We’re not going to go down that path," said Drexel Building Supply President Joel Fleischman. "I happen to be the president, I have to make some decisions, but to make a decision on a medical level for individuals that happen to work by us and work very hard and do a wonderful job for us, to tell them to make a life choice that they’re not comfortable making, so we can give them a paycheck, I just can’t fathom that."

The business has 650 workers, so would fall under President Biden's vacccine mandate. 

"I was very saddened by it, hurt by it, amazed by it – that our country has gotten that divided to that level, that they would come into our private lives, our private businesses, and force us to do things that we may not be comfortable with," Fleischman said.

Drexel Building Supply staff backed up their boss' message

Other employers support the mandate.

"Until steps like this are taken, we are just going to continue to just get by and exist. And for us to fully get past the pandemic, get this under control, return to normal, such that it is, we have to take every step," said Dan Sidner, co-owner of Black Shoe Hospitality.

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Sidner estimates 85% of the company's employees are vaccinated. When his Shorewood location re-opens this fall under a new name, he expected to have 200 total workers across the company's restaurants. He added that he supports the choice of anyone to get the vaccine or not, but COVID-19 could hurt his company.

"We are operating on extremely lean staffing as it is," said Sidner. "If we got somebody with COVID, it could shut us down. Shutdown, we lose a week, 10 days of business. It’s just not tenable. We put ourselves in a position of being out of business."

Black Shoe Hospitality location in Shorewood

At Drexel Building Supply, a different industry in a different county has a different viewpoint.

"You need people to stand up and say, ‘Enough is enough.’ That the science is there, yes – but is also your right to choose," said Jim Ingman, Drexel Building Supply science advisor.

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At the end of the day, it is likely the courts will decide if the president's proposal is legal and constitutional.

Right now, businesses are waiting. The plan was announced Thursday, but the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) still needs to put out the emergency standard regulation.

Groups like the Republican National Committee pledged to sue.

Regardless of President Biden's actions, some Milwaukee employers like the city, county, and Milwaukee Public Schools already announced vaccine requirements for employees. Northwestern Mutual also requires staff and contractors working on site prove they are vaccinated.


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