by Ted O’Neil
Seattle-based Starbucks announced this week that is dropping its policy requiring employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The coffee giant’s move comes in response to last week’s United State Supreme Court ruling to block the Biden Administration from requiring businesses in the private sector to put vaccine mandates in place.
Justices voted 6-3 against the Biden administration, saying only Congress has the authority to give the Occupational Safety and Health Administration the authority to implement such a rule.
Starbucks on Jan. 3 announced it would require all employees to be vaccinated by Feb. 9 or face weekly testing. The company also required employees to report their vaccination status by Jan. 10. Some 90% had done so and the company said a majority were fully vaccinated by that time.
According to ABC News, a memo sent Tuesday to employees by Chief Operating Officer John Culver said, “We respect the court’s ruling and will comply.”
Culver’s memo also said the company continues to strongly encourage employees to be fully vaccinated and receive booster shots.
“I want to emphasize that we continue to believe strongly in the spirit and intent of the mandate,” Culver wrote. “Thank you to the 90% of partners who have already disclosed their vaccination status, and to the vast majority who are now fully vaccinated.”
The company did not say how many of its 228,000 employees are not vaccinated.
Workers were also instructed to wear surgical masks while at work instead of cloth masks.
Employees at a Starbucks in upstate New York who voted to unionize last month walked off the job two weeks ago, citing a lack of staff and resources to work safely. The store was shut down for the day.
Starbucks has been operating its locations as carry out and drive-through only during the pandemic.
If the OSHA rule had been allowed to stand, businesses with more than 100 employees would have been forced to require vaccinations or weekly testing, affecting about 84 million Americans.
In a separate 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court upheld a Biden vaccine requirement for healthcare workers at providers receiving Medicaid or Medicare funding.
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Ted O’Neil is a contributor to The Center Square.