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Labor union representing TSA workers urges White House to delay vaccine deadline


Transportation Security Administration (TSA), workers screening passengers at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, November 8, 2021.

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The union representing approximately 700,000 federal employees asked Tuesday for the White House’s permission to allow workers to meet the mandate of the Biden administration to get vaccines. Instead of waiting until Thanksgiving, they were given until January 4.

The order by the Biden administration gives federal employees until Nov. 22 for Covid vaccinations. Federal contractors used to have until Dec. 8 for vaccination, but last week the White House extended that deadline to Jan. 4. These companies have until Jan. 4 to adhere to the deadline. This is in line with a Labor Department rule that requires private companies employing 100 people or more to be vaccinated.

American Federation of Government Employees represents Transportation Security Administration officials, food inspectors, and many other employees. They called it unjust to set separate deadlines for federal contractors, federal employees, and said that this was unfair.

“This double standard has created confusion and distress among federal staff due to disparate treatments and incongruent timelines for people who perform government work in the exact same settings,” Everett Kelley wrote Tuesday to Shalanda, AFGE President, Kiran Ahuja (acting director of U.S. Office of Personnel Management), and Jeff Zients (White House coronavirus response coordinator).

Kelley said that the possible disciplinariness of federal employees at this time of the year has a profound effect on morale.

Federal employees could be fired or suspended if they refuse to get vaccines. However, this is only after the employee has completed education and counseling.

The White House has not yet commented on AFGE’s request.