President Joe Biden’s executive order requiring all companies with federal contracts to vaccinate their workforce is once again putting thousands of Texans at risk. The order relating to federal contracts and executive branch employees takes effect on January 4, at which point those who fail to comply will be fired or have their federal contracts terminated.
This order is in addition to an OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) that requires all private companies with 100 or more employees to vaccinate their workers regardless of federal contracts. The ETS is also scheduled to take effect on January 4.
The Texas A&M University system, which boasts 12 different campuses and an estimated 15,000 employees, falls under the jurisdiction of both the executive order and the ETS. “We’ve got about 500 federal contracts, valued at almost $2 billion. That’s a lot of jobs. So, we have to comply so that that money can continue to flow,” said TAMU system Vice Chancellor Laylan Copelin in an interview on a local talk radio show.
Copelin explained that no TAMU system employees have been notified yet since the federal contracts have not been renewed to include the COVID clause:
The clause[s] that will be inserted into the new contracts are not in our current contracts. So, if you’re under a federal contract and that contract doesn’t renew for six months, then our interpretation of the order is in six months, when that renews, then those employees become covered by the order.
Vice Chancellor Copelin also spoke about the order’s effect on students. “The president’s order is worksite specific. … If you’ve got employees covered [by a federal contract] in a certain building and students attend classes in there, yes, they could be affected.”
According to Copelin, most of TAMU’s federal contracts are only relevant to the College Station campus. The flagship is home to nearly 75,000 students and faculty, many of whom could be forced into getting the vaccine if current medical freedom lawsuits are unsuccessful.