Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Raises Concerns Over Federal Vaccine Mandate

The governor said Michigan workers would be forced to walk out of their jobs, though efforts to have nationwide walkouts failed to gain widespread traction.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) is pushing back against President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandates, which affect employers in both the public and private sectors.

In an interview with the Michigan-based The Daily News on Tuesday, Whitmer said the mandates would be a detriment to workers and could force employees, including government workers, to quit their jobs.

“We’re an employer too, the state of Michigan is,” Whitmer told the publication. “I know if that mandate happens, we’re going to lose state employees. That’s why I haven’t proposed a mandate at the state level. Some states have. We have not, we’re waiting to see what happens in court.”

This is the first time Whitmer has publicly criticized Biden’s vaccine mandate since it was announced in September.

Despite her comments, Whitmer told the Detroit Metro Times that her office would enforce the mandate if it survives challenges in court.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has said her office would enforce the mandate if it is upheld in the courts.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has said her office would enforce the mandate if it is upheld in the courts.
JIM WATSON via Getty Images

While some workers in some states have walked off the job in protest of vaccine requirements, an online effort pushing for workers across the country to protest using the hashtag #TheGreatAmericanWalkout largely flopped, according to an investigation by Rolling Stone magazine.

Similarly, a fact-check by USA Today disproved claims circulating online that employees at American Airlines and Amtrak walked off the job en masse in protest of vaccine mandates. A representative of American Airlines told the newspaper that a majority of its team was already vaccinated, while a head of the union that represents Amtrak said there had been no staged walkouts.

Michigan has become a hotspot for the coronavirus, recently setting the record for having the most hospitalizations for confirmed COVID-19 cases in the nation. The governor has faced criticism for her response to the new surges in 2021 and for resisting calling for a shutdown in the state.

In May, Whitmer issued an apology after she was caught violating her own state emergency orders by dining indoors with a large group of people who weren’t wearing masks.

Biden’s vaccine mandate requires federal employees and workers at businesses with more than 100 employees to receive at least one dose of the Moderna, Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Those who choose not to get vaccinated will be required to submit weekly test results of their COVID-19 status.

Senate Republicans and a few Democrats voted Wednesday to rebuke the mandate. The largely symbolic measure, however, is unlikely to pass in the Democratically controlled House and would almost certainly be vetoed by Biden if it did.

Whitmer’s office didn’t immediately return a request for comment.

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