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NATE Calls for Public Comment Period on Proposed Federal Vaccine Mandate

Tower association said a significant number of tower workers could resign if they are required to be vaccinated

NATE, National Association of Tower Erectors, Communications Infrastructure Contractors AssociationNATE is requesting that its members and others have the right to comment on federal COVID-19 vaccine requirements.

On Oct. 20 NATE: The Communications Infrastructure Contractors Association sent a letter to President Joe Biden requesting that the organization be able to make comments on the implementation of a vaccine rule by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

[Read a summary of Biden’s actions last month from the National Law Review.]

In September Biden issued federal orders requiring COVID-19 vaccines for federal workers and contractors. He also said that administrative agencies — the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration — would be issuing requirements establishing wider vaccine protocols for large employers and healthcare providers. The new mandates could affect around 100 million workers.

But NATE expressed concern that the temporary emergency standard that OSHA is expected to follow as a result of the federal mandate does not allow for public comment. The organization said that 85% of NATE members believe that some staff would resign if they are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and a full 30% indicated they would lose more than half of their workers.

COVID-19 close up
Photo: Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM

“Like many other industries involved in the skilled trades, NATE members have struggled to recruit skilled workers,” the organization said in its letter to the White House. “The possibility of losing a significant number of tower technicians is a serious concern for NATE members, and the potential of losing workers could come at a time when America is investing billions of dollars in broadband projects.”

“Simply put,” the letter said, “NATE members fear that if we do not implement federal vaccination goals in a responsible manner, then they could lose a significant number of workers who are vital to building and deploying broadband services to rural, unserved, and underserved communities.”

[Read: COVID Doesn’t Care About Trade Shows]

Instead, a public comment period would allow for OSHA staff to hear directly from NATE members so they could get a clearer understanding of how a vaccine mandate could impact workers.

“We urge President Biden and OSHA to open a public comment period so the administration can hear directly from NATE’s small business members and gain a better understanding of how vaccine mandates would impact their workforce and the country’s ambitious 5G and broadband deployment goals,” it said.