The vaccine mandate and 3M
As hundreds of Minnesota companies prepare for the Biden administration's federal vaccine-or-test mandate, some have been scrambling to comply with a more stringent mandate for federal contractors.
- One of them is Maplewood-based 3M Co., and its new vaccine policy is getting blowback from some employees.
Driving the news: As a federal contractor, 3M had been working under a Dec. 8 deadline to get its employees vaccinated. Then, yesterday, the Biden administration kicked that deadline back to Jan. 4.
- That date lines up with the government's mandate for all companies with more than 100 employees.
State of play: Last month, 3M asked employees to submit proof of their completed series of COVID-19 vaccine shots. Federal contractor rules don't allow employees to opt out of the vaccine and get tested weekly instead — which is an option for employees of companies that aren't federal contractors. 3M's policy still allows for religious and medical exemptions.
- A video surfaced on YouTube of employees — not showing their heads — hold signs protesting the vaccine requirement. It had more than 30,000 views before YouTube took it down for violating its community guidelines.
- About 35 workers staged a protest outside its Columbia, Missouri, plant last week, and a couple went on Glenn Beck's show.
- Workers are advertising a protest outside of 3M's headquarters for Saturday.
Yes, but: Surveys have shown that while employees at companies with vaccine mandates have been vocal, few of them actually follow through and quit.
Of note: 3M wouldn't say how many of its 90,000 employees have been vaccinated.
- It's headquartered in a metro with a nearly 80% vaccination rate, but operates plants in areas of the country with much lower vaccine adoption.
What they're saying: 3M spokesperson Jen Ehrlich said the company, like many others, has heard from employees with strong opinions on the mandate, noting that the public gatherings have been small.
- "3M will comply with the federal vaccine mandate because ... we're a federal contractor with more than 100 employees," she said. "And we believe it's important to get our workplaces back to normal as quickly as we can."
- Locally, UnitedHeath Group unveiled a policy in early October requiring most of its employees to show proof of their completed vaccine series by Nov. 30. UHG's policy doesn't have a weekly testing alternative, either.
The intrigue: So what happens if employees won't get the jab?
- 3M will be "reviewing their employment for termination," Ehrlich said.
- New federal guidance gives companies some leeway, suggesting a period of counseling and education followed by discipline.
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