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The first USMCA Rapid Response Labor Mechanism case is coming to a close following a historic vote that took place over the course of two days.
The Delta variant is on the rise, employers are announcing back-to-office plans, and enhanced unemployment insurance (UI) benefits are coming to an end. These three roads are intersecting, prompting many questions around vaccine mandates and what they might mean for hesitant employees. Consistent with most other questions posed during the Pandemic, the answers are not so straightforward.
Can Employers Impose a Vaccine Mandate?
Yes, but there are exceptions.
The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) announced on August 10, 2021, that the U.S. and Tridonex agreed to a course of remediation in response to a labor complaint filed against the auto parts manufacturer in May.
The ‘here and now’ has dominated the Unemployment Insurance (UI) conversation for the last 16 months—how much should the supplemental benefit be? How long should benefits last? How can fraudulent claims be minimized? These policy questions remain, but as expanded benefits inch closer to expiring, the conversation is shifting towards the future of UI.
An earlier blog posted on July 8, 2021 described a USMCA complaint which alleged a violation of rights occurred at a GM facility in Sialo, Mexico. On that same day, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) announced that the U.S. and Mexico reached a remediation agreement which can be read in full here.
In 2019, Mexico passed a labor reform bill intended to meet the requirements of the labor provisions agreed to in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which came into force July 1, 2020. By passing the bill and ratifying the USMCA, Mexico agreed to implement and enforce workers’ rights, including freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining.
A White House Fact Sheet released in May reiterated that the “core purpose of the UI program is helping workers get back to work.” We have seen throughout the past few months, however, that enhanced benefits, relaxed work search requirements, and waivers to be able and available to work has left the U.S. in a labor shortage.
Today, the House of Representatives passed the Senate version of the American Rescue Plan. The bill is slightly different than what President Biden proposed and the House originally passed. However, the sweeping piece of legislation still comes with the $1.9 trillion price tag. Similar to the relief measures before it, the American Rescue Plan extends, and makes changes to, emergency unemployment insurance (UI) programs just days before the programs expire.
The Department of Labor has released guidance detailing qualifying reasons for an individual to refuse work and still be eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).