FMI – The Food Industry Association and the National Grocers Association applauded the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Jan. 13 to pause the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Emergency Temporary Standard for COVID-19 vaccination and testing for private businesses.
According to CNBC, the court wrote in an unsigned opinion: “Although Congress has indisputably given OSHA the power to regulate occupational dangers, it has not given that agency the power to regulate public health more broadly. Requiring the vaccination of 84 million Americans, selected simply because they work for employers with more than 100 employees, certainly falls in the latter category.”
FMI President and CEO Leslie G. Sarasin made the following statement welcoming the Supreme Court’s ruling:
“We are pleased the Supreme Court recognized the challenges OSHA’s rule would have imposed on food retailers and manufacturers, our employees and, ultimately, American consumers. The court’s decision today to pause OSHA’s vaccine and testing mandate for private businesses will help ensure the food industry is able to continue meeting our customers’ needs as efficiently and effectively as possible amid the ongoing supply chain and labor disruptions.
“FMI and our member companies remain committed to working with OSHA, the CDC and the White House to encourage and facilitate vaccinations among our employees and communities while preserving our members’ ability to provide their customers with the foods and products they need to keep their families fed and safe in the new year.
“As FMI and our partner associations’ filing to the court noted, the food industry has gone to extraordinary lengths to promote vaccination among our associates and communities, including investing $1 billion in incentives to encourage their employees to get vaccinated. Our 12,000 food retail pharmacies have administered a significant percentage of the nation’s COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters, a role they continue to embrace in communities across the nation.”
On behalf of its members, the NGA said it supports the court’s ruling, which takes some pressure off independent community grocers who already face daunting staffing challenges amid a nationwide labor shortage.
“Independent grocers remain focused on doing what they have done since day one of the pandemic, providing their communities with access to food, essential products and other vital services. The ruling is a great relief for our industry as it staves off a burdensome mandate that would have created further disruptions and impaired our members’ ability to properly serve the needs of their communities,” said Greg Ferrara, NGA president and CEO.
Independent supermarkets and wholesalers have worked since the vaccines were first available to ensure their frontline workers had access, and NGA members with pharmacies have been important partners to help deliver vaccines and boosters to the communities that they serve.
“We support efforts to increase vaccination rates that will not place added pressure on an already strained food supply chain and labor force,” Ferrara said.
FMI – The Food Industry Association works with and on behalf of the entire industry to advance a safer, healthier and more efficient consumer food supply chain. FMI brings together a wide range of members across the value chain – from retailers that sell to consumers, to producers that supply food and other products, as well as the wide variety of companies providing critical services – to amplify the collective work of the industry.
NGA is the national trade association representing the retail and wholesale community grocers that comprise the independent sector of the food distribution industry. An independent retailer is a privately owned or controlled food retail company operating a variety of formats. The independent grocery sector is accountable for about 1.2 percent of the nation’s overall economy and is responsible for generating more than $250 billion in sales, 1.1 million jobs, $39 billion in wages and $36 billion in taxes.