President Biden met Wednesday with top executives from Microsoft, the Walt Disney Company, Kaiser Permanente and other companies that have approved vaccine mandates, days after he announced a federal effort to require large corporate employees to be vaccinated against coronavirus or tested regularly.
The administration tried to use the meeting to show that vaccination mandates are good for the economy, while focusing on employers who have mandates for workers or have praised Mr Biden’s order. The purpose of the meeting was to gather more business support for mandates.
“It’s about saving lives – that’s what this’s about,” said Mr Biden, who was flanked by Finance Minister Janet Yellen and Jeffrey D. Zients, the White House pandemic coordinator.
“Vaccinations mean fewer infections, hospitalizations and deaths, and that in turn means a stronger economy,” he added.
One of those invited to the meeting, Tim Boyle, CEO of Columbia Sportswear, said in an interview Wednesday that his company had drafted a policy that imposed vaccines months ago. But it had stopped implementing it until Mr Biden announced last week that he had instructed the Labor Department to issue an emergency declaration that would effectively serve as a vaccine mandate for tens of thousands of workers. Columbia Sportswear told its staff it would put a vaccine requirement in place next week.
Boyle said Columbia was concerned that by shopping alone, it would risk losing as much as half of its employees in distribution centers and retail stores. Mr. The bite order, he said, reduced the risk that workers who did not want to be vaccinated would stop working elsewhere.
“There is much less chance of people going to a place where they do not need to be vaccinated,” he said.
Boyle said vaccinations had divided Columbia’s workforce. Managers at Portland headquarters, Ore., Have largely taken the shots, he said, but retail and warehouse workers across the country have been more reluctant. He said the hesitation had harmed the company with infections and the threat of infection that forced closures and cleaning of places.
“These surgeries are based on people working closely together,” he said. Having unvaccinated workers is “highly disruptive”.
Several of the business leaders who met with Mr. Biden have already installed mandates for at least part of their workforce, including Disney, Walgreens and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.