Awaiting Supreme Court Decision, Iowa OSHA Blocks Vaccine Mandate for Businesses

man in yellow hardhat and work jacket

Iowans are waiting for the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for businesses with at least 100 employees. In the meantime, they’re moving ahead with actions of their own.

Iowa Department of Education Communications Director Heather Doe told The Center Square in an emailed statement that since Iowa is a state-plan state, the Iowa Division of Labor typically enforces workplace safety in Iowa instead of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The state is required to notify OSHA whether it will adopt a given Emergency Temporary Standard or provide notice it will not adopt it because its standards are as effective as the new federal standard. Iowa needed to respond to the standard by Jan. 7.

Iowa Labor Commissioner Rod Roberts did so, saying that the Hawkeye State will not adopt or enforce the mandate.

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Arizona Small Businesses Don’t Want California-Style Employment Laws

Person using Apple Pay at cafe

Copper State small business owners appear to have embraced the local colloquialism “Don’t California my Arizona,” according to results of a new survey.

The Arizona chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business released its annual poll of Main St. entrepreneurs Monday. 

NFIB got responses to three questions from 247 small business owners across the state this month. 

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Labor Board Orders New Union Election at Amazon Warehouse

Amazon warehouse in Maryland

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ordered a new unionization election at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama, ruling that the company violated federal labor law during the first election.

“Today’s decision confirms what we were saying all along – that Amazon’s intimidation and interference prevented workers from having a fair say in whether they wanted a union in their workplace – and as the Regional Director has indicated, that is both unacceptable and illegal,” Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) President Stuart Appelbaum said in a statement Monday.

“Amazon workers deserve to have a voice at work, which can only come from a union,” he continued.

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Starbucks Announces Wage Hikes Amidst Labor Struggles

Outside view of Starbucks Coffee

Seattle-based Starbucks announced it will increase hourly wages next year as the coffee giant faces the dual pressures of unionization attempts and staffing shortages.

According to a press release from the company, starting in January of 2022, hourly employees with two or more years of service could see a 5% raise and those with five or more years of service could see a 10% raise.

By the summer of next year, the company says its average hourly pay will be $17, up from the current average of $14. Employees will make between $15 and $23 an hour across the country, depending on location and tenure.

The press release did not address what impact the moves will have on coffee prices.

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Arizonans Fired over COVID Vaccination Might Not Get Unemployment

Arizona’s largest hospital system and others have set a Monday deadline for their employees to be vaccinated or face termination, but some employees who already have been fired for refusing a vaccine are learning they aren’t eligible for unemployment benefits. 

Banner Health, ValleyWise Health, HonorHealth and Dignity Health are set to require COVID-19 vaccinations Monday. Others have set deadlines that already have passed.

Mayo Clinic, a Minnesota-based hospital nonprofit with two facilities in the valley, announced in July it would require all employees to be vaccinated by Sept. 17. In a release, it said staff who declined to be vaccinated for COVID-19 “must complete education modules and will be required to wear masks and socially distance when on campus.”

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Arizona Fully Recovers Pandemic Job Losses

Person using a laptop, pointing to the screen

More than 100% of private sector jobs in Arizona have been recovered since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the August employment report. 

 The Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity report showed that Arizona has recovered 325,500 private-sector jobs since April 2020, representing 101% of private-sector jobs lost. 

 Between July and August, Arizona’s unemployment fell by about 13,000 people. The unemployment rate dropped from 6.6% to 6.2%, marking the largest rate decline of the year. 

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Thousands of Public Workers Seek Vaccine Exemptions in Washington

Doctor with mask on holding COVID-19 Vaccine

Some 4,800 state employees in Washington have already requested medical or religious exemptions from Gov. Jay Inslee’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

According to information released this week by the state, those requests amount to nearly 8% of the 60,000 state workers who fall under Inslee’s 24 cabinet departments. As of Sept. 6, less than 50% of all employees in those agencies were verified as being fully vaccinated.

Inslee last month issued an executive order that all state employees, as well as K-12 and state university staff, must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18 or face dismissal.

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Arizona Police Recruiting in Washington Days After Vaccine Mandate

Arizona state trooper SUV in desert

Arizona’s state police force is in the Pacific Northwest in an attempt to bolster its ranks. The push comes on the heels of news that Washington Gov. Jay Inslee isn’t allowing exceptions to his vaccine mandate.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety announced that they would be in Washington from Sept. 7 through Sept. 19 to recruit potential new officers. 

Their counterpart, the Washington State Patrol, shared Arizona’s announcement on Twitter. 

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Report: Afghan Women Forced into Marriages with Men Eligible for Evacuation

Afghan women in Kabul

Afghan women were reportedly forced into marriages with men who were eligible for evacuation from the country, CNN reported Thursday.

U.S. officials notified the State Department about some Afghan women and girls showing up with men pretending to be their husbands or after being forced into marriages with men eligible for evacuation, two sources familiar with the matter reportedly told CNN.

Some women are reportedly resorting to these unusual relationships in order to flee Taliban rule, CNN reported. Families of Afghan women at a transit hub in the United Arab Emirates arranged for such marriages at the Kabul international airport in Afghanistan so that women may leave, according to CNN.

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Ducey Invests Millions of Federal Dollars to Start Visit Arizona Initiative

Three people on bikes in Arizona during sundown

Gov. Doug Ducey is investing $101.1 million from the federal American Rescue Plan funding to launch the Visit Arizona Initiative to increase tourism spending in Arizona and expedite its economic recovery. 

“Tourism is essential for Arizona’s booming economy and job growth,” Ducey said in a release. 

He said that when tourists stay at Arizona hotels, eat at restaurants, buy Arizona products, and partake in the state’s recreational activities, Arizona’s economy booms.

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Federal Reserve Chair: Inflation to be ‘Elevated for Months’

Jerome Powell

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell tried to calm lawmakers’ fears about rising inflation but also said it would probably remain elevated for months to come.

Testifying before Congress this week, Powell said the Federal Reserve was willing to step in to address the situation, but that inflation should level out next year.

“As always, in assessing the appropriate stance of monetary policy, we will continue to monitor the implications of incoming information for the economic outlook and would be prepared to adjust the stance of monetary policy as appropriate if we saw signs that the path of inflation or longer-term inflation expectations were moving materially and persistently beyond levels consistent with our goal,” Powell said in his prepared testimony.

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As Economy Recovers, Arizona Businesses Struggle to Fill Job Openings

Help wanted sign

Recent Bureau of Labor Statistics data revealed that the nation hit a record high for job openings in April of 2021, yet employers around America are not receiving enough job applications to fill their available positions. 

Though the Bureau of Labor counted 9.3 million job openings in June, the unemployment rate remains at 5.8%, notwithstanding the millions of Americans not seeking employment. 

Express Employment Professionals, a staffing agency, suggested in a press release that stimulus payments, unemployment benefits, and recent tax refunds are deterring job applications as those on the hunt for employment have the option to hold out for jobs which meet their demands and goals. 

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Commentary: Unions’ Focus on Woke over Work Rankles Rank and File

Los Angeles school teacher Glenn Laird has been a union stalwart for almost four decades. He served as a co-chair of his school’s delegation to United Teachers Los Angeles and proudly wore union purple on the picket line.

But Laird is now suing to leave UTLA and demanding a refund of the dues the union has collected since his resignation request. His turning point came in July 2020 when the union, the second largest teachers union in the country, joined liberal activists to demand that Los Angeles defund the police in response to Black Lives Matter demonstrations.

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Gov. Abbott: Democratic Legislators to Be Arrested upon Return to Texas

Photo caption from Twitter says " Conversation Dan Patrick @DanPatrick Smiling House Dems fly off to DC on a private jet with a case of Miller Lite, breaking House quorum, abandoning their constituents, while the Senate still works. It’s my hope that Senate Dems report tomorrow to do what they were elected to do."

More than 60 House Democrats who fled Austin Monday to prevent a vote on election reforms will be arrested when they return to Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott said.

“Once they step back into the state of Texas, they will be arrested and brought to the Texas capital and we will be conducting business,” Abbott said.

The 67 Democratic lawmakers flew on chartered flights to Washington D.C. in protest of proposed legislation seeking to reduce the chances of fraud in future elections. The legislation is one of a number of measures being considered during a July special session called by Abbott.

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Largest Health Care Union to Fight Mandatory Vaccine Requirements for Workers

Doctor giving vaccination to patient

The president of the largest union of health care workers in the U.S. says it will fight companies requiring its members to have mandatory COVID-19 shots as a condition of employment.

The announcement came one day after Houston Methodist announced that 153 employees had been fired or resigned for refusing to get the shots as a condition of employment. Those suing argue requiring employees to receive a vaccine approved only through Emergency Use Authorization violates federal law. After a recent court dismissal, their attorney vowed to take the case all the way to the Supreme Court.

George Gresham, president of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, is weighing the organization’s legal options.

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Activists Look to the Future of Oil Pipelines Following Keystone XL Cancellation

Anti Keystone XL pipeline citizens

After the cancellation of the Keystone XL Pipeline struck a blow to the oil industry, energy jobs activists are pushing back by warning of increased costs and touting the benefits of transporting oil via pipeline.

TC Energy Corporation announced on Wednesday that it was cancelling the Keystone XL Pipeline less than five months after President Joe Biden rescinded a vital permit for the pipeline. The cancellation ends an over 12-year battle by activists from both sides over the oil pipeline. The pipeline would have started in the Canadian province of Alberta ultimately ending in Nebraska.

In a statement François Poirier, President and CEO of TC Energy Corporation, expressed disappointment.

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Small Businesses Say Big Labor’s PRO Act Would Put Them Under

Rally goer holds up a "Small Business fighting for survival" sign

The Biden Administration sent some stock prices tumbling and left small businesses worried after taking sides on a hotly contested labor issue that critics say could threaten the jobs of millions of independent workers and thousands of small businesses.

In his address to the nation Wednesday evening, President Joe Biden called on Congress to pass legislation that would ban the use of freelance workers in most instances.

A report from the freelance site UpWork found that about 59 million gig workers make up $1.2 trillion of the U.S. economy.

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Hawley Cites ‘Culture War’ in Proposal for Monthly Payments to Families with Children

Josh Hawley

Rising Republican star U.S. Rep. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., is sponsoring a new measure that would give unprecedented tax cuts to parents with children, and now he is saying his bill is on the front line of the nation’s “culture war.”

The plan in question would give a fully refundable tax credit of $12,000 for married parents and $6,000 for single parents who have children under the age of 13.

“Starting a family and raising children should not be a privilege only reserved for the wealthy,” Hawley said. “Millions of working people want to start a family and would like to care for their children at home, but current policies do not respect these preferences. American families should be supported, no matter how they choose to care for their kids.”

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