WASHINGTON, Nov. 18—Associated Builders and Contractors and its chapters in Georgia and Texas today announced filings in support of pending suits by multiple states challenging President Biden’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate for federal contractors. ABC contends the unprecedented executive order exceeds the administration’s authority and is likely to increase costs and undermine economy and efficiency in federal contracting.
“ABC member contractors comprise a crucial segment of the construction industry’s federal contracting base, as they won 57% of the $118 billion in direct federal U.S. construction contracts exceeding $25 million awarded during fiscal years 2009-2020,” said Ben Brubeck, ABC vice president of regulatory, labor and state affairs. “The federal contractor vaccination mandate will magnify economic challenges facing the federal contracting community and the overall construction industry, such as a workforce shortage of 430,000, rising materials prices and supply chain woes, and cause negative ripple effects throughout the overall American economy.”
If contractors are forced to comply with the challenged mandate in order to be awarded covered federal contracts, many of them will be unable to perform the awarded contracts because a significant percentage of their vaccine-hesitant workers will quit or have to be placed on extended leaves of absence rather than be vaccinated. The federal contractor mandate allows no testing option for unvaccinated employees.
“ABC continues to encourage COVID-19 vaccinations but cannot support this overreaching mandate because it creates compliance issues and imposes unnecessary regulatory burdens on federal contractors in Georgia and nationwide,” said Bill Anderson, ABC of Georgia president and CEO. “ABC federal contractor members could potentially lose many experienced, quality employees who are opposed to government vaccination mandates. At a time when the construction industry is experiencing a severe workforce shortage, we cannot afford to lose top talent.”
“Texas employs more construction workers than any other state in the country, and many ABC of Texas members who regularly bid on and are awarded government contracts covered by this directive will suffer irreparable harm,” said Geoffrey Tahuahua, ABC of Texas president. “Just this week, President Biden signed a bipartisan infrastructure bill that injects $550 billion in additional spending on public works. All contractors and workers should be welcomed to bid on these new projects to deliver the best value to Texas and American taxpayers. This mandate would prevent or delay crucial projects necessary for rebuilding the country’s infrastructure.”
ABC and its Texas Chapter filed a declaration in support of a preliminary injunction against the federal contractor vaccination mandate policy in the U.S. District Court Southern District of Texas Galveston Division on Nov. 16. On Nov. 18, ABC and its Georgia Chapter filed a motion to intervene in support of a suit filed by the state of Georgia and six other states in the U.S. District Court Southern District of Georgia Augusta Division.
ABC continues to encourage members to utilize its COVID-19 vaccination toolkit, resources and guidance for federal contractors to keep workers safe on construction jobsites.
On Sept. 9, President Biden announced his Path Out of the Pandemic: COVID-19 Action Plan and signed Executive Order 14042, Ensuring Adequate COVID Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors. As required by the EO, the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force issued guidance on COVID-19 Workplace Safety: Guidance for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors.
On Nov. 10, the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force issued updated guidance on the COVID-19 Workplace Safety: Guidance for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors that states “covered contractors must ensure that all covered contractor employees are fully vaccinated for COVID-19, unless the employee is legally entitled to an accommodation. Covered contractor employees must be fully vaccinated no later than Jan. 18, 2022. After that date, all covered contractor employees must be fully vaccinated by the first day of the period of performance on a newly awarded covered contract, and by the first day of the period of performance on an exercised option or extended or renewed contract when the clause has been incorporated into the covered contract.”
On Sept. 23, ABC sent a letter to OMB and the Task Force on behalf of its federal contractor members with practical feedback on the EO, which includes 25 questions and concerns raised by the federal contracting community since the EO’s release.