A federal judge in Georgia has temporarily blocked President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for federal contractors throughout the United States.
The mandate calls for federal contractors to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Jan. 18 (previously Jan. 4). On Tuesday, the mandate was halted by a preliminary injunction ordered by U.S. District Judge R. Stan Baker of the Southern District of Georgia.
The order follows an injunction issued on Nov. 30 by a federal judge in Kentucky that blocked the mandate for the states of Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee.
In his order, Baker wrote that since one of the plaintiffs in the case is the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), limiting the injunction to only those states that were also plaintiffs in this case would not provide relief to ABC’s membership.
“Thus, on the unique facts before it, the Court finds it necessary, in order to truly afford injunctive relief to the parties before it, to issue an injunction with nationwide applicability,” wrote Baker.
Baker accepted the argument that the mandate likely exceeds the authorization granted to the president by the Federal Property Administrative Services Act, which Biden used to issue the mandate. He disagreed with the Biden administration’s argument that blocking the federal mandate will delay the vaccination of federal contractors and thus prolong the pandemic. Instead, Baker says it will only maintain the status quo.
“Entities will still be free to encourage their employees to get vaccinated, and the employees will still be free to choose to be vaccinated,” Baker wrote. “In contrast, declining to issue a preliminary injunction would force Plaintiffs to comply with the mandate, requiring them to make decisions which would significantly alter their ability to perform federal contract work which is critical to their operations.”
In November, ABC and its chapters in Georgia and Texas announced filings in support of pending suits by multiple states challenging the vaccine mandate, saying it exceeds the administration’s authority and would likely 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, in a written statement.
Bill Anderson, ABC of Georgia president and CEO, said ABC encourages COVID-19 vaccinations but cannot support the “overreaching mandate” because it creates compliance issues and imposes unnecessary regulatory burdens on federal contractors.
“ABC federal contractor members could potentially lose many experienced, quality employees who are opposed to government vaccination mandates,” said Anderson. “At a time when the construction industry is experiencing a severe workforce shortage, we cannot afford to lose top talent.”
View our video featuring Cotney Attorneys & Consultants CEO Trent Cotney on how these preliminary injunctions impact roofing contractors.