Health and Science

Labor union representing TSA and other federal workers urges White House to postpone vaccine deadline until 2022

Key Points
  • The American Federation of Government Employees asked the White House to postpone the deadline until 2022, in line with federal contractors and another for large businesses.
  • The AFGE represents some 700,000 government workers, from TSA agents to food inspectors.
  • The White House last week delayed the deadline for federal contractors from Dec. 8 until Jan. 4.
Transportation Security Administration (TSA) workers screen passengers at O'Hare International Airport on November 08, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois.
Scott Olson | Getty Images

A union that represents some 700,000 government employees on Tuesday asked the White House to give workers until Jan. 4 to comply with a Biden administration vaccine mandate instead of a deadline just before Thanksgiving.

Most federal workers have until Nov. 22 to get immunized against Covid under the Biden administration's order. Federal contractors previously had until Dec. 8, but the White House last week delayed that deadline until Jan. 4. That gives those companies until after the holidays to comply with the deadline, which matches a new rule from the Labor Department requiring private companies with 100 or more employees to get vaccinated or face weekly testing.

The American Federation of Government Employees, which represents Transportation Security Administration officers, food inspectors and tens of thousands of others, called it unfair to have separate deadlines for federal contractors and federal employees.

"This double standard has caused confusion and distress among federal employees due to disparate treatment and incongruent deadlines for people who perform the government's work in the same settings," Everett Kelley, AFGE's president, wrote Tuesday to Shalanda Young, acting director of the Office of Budget and Management, Kiran Ahuja, acting director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and Jeff Zients, the White House's coronavirus response coordinator.

"The effect upon morale of federal employees being subject to possible discipline at this time of year cannot be overstated," Kelley wrote.

A federal employee could face termination or suspension for refusing to get vaccinated but only after a period of education and counseling, according to the rules.

"The purpose of this requirement is to protect the Federal workforce," a spokesperson for the Office of Management and Budget said late Tuesday. "That's been a central goal of the Biden administration since Day 1. The vast majority of the Federal workforce wants to know that they're safe in the workplace because their coworkers are vaccinated."