A railroad company in the country’s Last Frontier is having second thoughts about a vaccine mandate it announced less than a week ago.
With legal challenges mounting against the executive orders President Joe Biden issued in September requiring vaccinations for federal government employees and employees of federal contractors, the board of directors of state-owned Alaska Railroad has voted to rescind a mandate it made public only on Friday.
And as a federal contractor doing millions of dollars in business with the U.S. government, the company, which functions as a private business, is putting a lot on the line.
The Alaska Railroad has rescinded a vaccine mandate it had instituted for all employees, just over half of whom are vaccinated so far. Without complying with the federal vaccine order, the railroad could stand to lose out on millions in federal contracts. https://t.co/pKnjXf2rDm
— Alaska's News Source (@AKNewsNow) October 26, 2021
According to the Anchorage Daily News, the board voted to rescind its mandate on Tuesday to see how court challenges to the Biden orders play out. In particular, railroad spokesman Tim Sullivan cited a request for a restraining order against the Biden mandates that was filed Friday by Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich.
“The board rescinded the requirement [for vaccination] and may revisit it, depending on what happens with the legal actions that have come to light since … late Friday afternoon,” Sullivan said, according to the report.
“We expect that there will be other legal actions and we’re waiting to see what the courts do.”
The Daily News report was published on Wednesday. Developments Thursday showed how right that expectation was.
On Thursday, 21 attorneys general from states across the country sent a letter to Biden expressing “grave concerns” about the mandate, particularly as it relates to federal contractors such as freight companies and airlines.
“Like other mandates being imposed by the federal government, this mandate stands on shaky legal ground, cannot be reconciled with other messaging provided by the government, and forces contractors unable to make sense of its many inconsistencies to require that their entire workforce be vaccinated on an unworkable timeline or face potential blacklisting by the federal government or loss of future federal contracts,” the attorneys general wrote.
In addition to the orders for federal employees and contractors, Biden also ordered the Labor Department to draft guidelines that would mandate businesses with more than 100 employees require their workers to either be vaccinated or have regular testing to show they were not infected with COVID-19.
Federal employees and employees of federal contractors, under Biden’s order, do not have the option of being tested. They either comply with the mandate or they’re out of a job.
“We’ve been put in a very difficult position by the federal government,” said Alaska Railroad board Chairman John Shively, the Daily News reported. “There’s not a single board member that likes this at all,”
Shively even called the requirement “un-American,” according to KTUU-TV, the NBC affiliate in Anchorage.
From the news coverage, none of the railroad’s board members were happy about announcing on Friday that employees would have until Dec. 8 to get the vaccine — about 52 percent of the workers have had the shots, the Daily News reported.
But the company’s business relationship with the government gave them no choice.
Failure to comply would mean losing federal grants and contracts, as well as space it leases from the U.S. Forest Service in Anchorage.
According to KTUU, Sullivan estimated the company’s potential loss in freight contracts at $8 million to $10 million. That might be couch-money compared to what Mark Zuckerberg might spend to, say, corrupt an election, but for a company that does $150 million or so in freight business annually, it’s a serious consideration.
All of that — disheartening thought it is — explains why the board decided on Friday to impose the mandate on employees. What should give Americans hope is why the board rescinded the mandate.
Basically, Americans are fighting back. Whether it’s Arizona’s Brnovich or his 21 colleagues in attorneys general around the country, police officers and firefighters, medical care providers or Americans in any walk of life, the clear, near-totalitarian overreach by the Biden administration and its progressive supporters when it comes to the vaccination mandate is becoming intolerable.
This isn’t meant as an opposition to the vaccine itself. Any American who’s comfortable with the vaccine should get one. Hundreds of millions have, with minimal negative results.
The fact that it’s unvaccinated individuals who make up the vast majority of deaths from COVID 19 should give some indication of how effective they are. In June, The Associated Press reported that less than 1 percent of the COVID-19 deaths the month earlier involved a vaccinated individual.
Granted, the AP is far from unimpeachable as a news source these days (its fact check that said the “Russia collusion” probe wasn’t biased is still a classic). So everything has to be viewed critically, but that has the ring of truth. Deaths among the vaccinated do occur, of course, (the late Colin Powell leaps to mind) but they’re rare enough that they almost make news themselves.
The important point here is that throughout the coronavirus pandemic, the federal government has behaved in ways that could not have been worse for the trust of the American public.
From Dr. Anthony Fauci’s deliberate lie about masks in early 2020 to Biden’s and running-mate Kamala Harris’ deliberately sowing doubt about any vaccine developed under then-President Donald Trump during the 2020 election campaign, any Americans with the brains to fog a mirror can think of manifold reasons to distrust literally any information about the coronavirus that comes their way.
Americans who choose not to get the vaccine have a right to their own decision — whether it’s for medical reasons, religious reasons, political reasons, or any other reason they wish. That’s part of the “freedom” Biden sneered at on national television last week.
The board members of the Alaska Railroad, way up in America’s Last Frontier, seem to understand that — for now, anyway. If the court challenges against Biden’s mandates fail, the reports make it clear that the railroad will comply.
The governor of Alaska understands that. On Friday, he welcomed police officers who’d been fired in the Lower 48 for not being vaccinated to consider moving up to the 49th, according to the Daily News. (Might be in a tough competition with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on that front.)
Alaska Attorney General Treg Taylor understands it. He’s one of the 21 attorneys general who wrote to Biden.
Millions of Americans — vaccinated and unvaccinated alike — understand that, too.