Local News

Rabine joins lawsuit seeking to block COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employers

The petition, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals 8th District, seeks judicial review of the vaccine mandate and an order that would delay the mandate nationwide while it is under review.

Gary Rabine, who said he plans to run for Illinois governor, poses for a portrait at his business on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021, in Schaumburg

Republican gubernatorial candidate Gary Rabine of Bull Valley joined several businesses Thursday in a lawsuit that seeks to block President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate, claiming the requirement exceeds the U.S. Department of Labor’s powers.

The federal order, established by the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, is set to require employers with at least 100 workers to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations or require regular testing and masks for those who remain unvaccinated by Jan. 4.

The petition, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals 8th District, seeks judicial review of the vaccine mandate and an order that would delay the mandate nationwide while it is under review.

Those who joined in on the lawsuit include two Minnesota-based businesses, Lawrence Trucking Co. and Pan-O-Gold Baking Co., as well as the Independent Bakers Association, Guy Chemical Co. LLC in Pennsylvania and Rabine, who employs more than 300 people at his construction companies.

“These mandates are an assault on our freedoms and an attack on working people,” Rabine said in a news release Thursday.

The business owners argued in their petition that the mandate “violates the Constitution and other federal laws” and is “unsupported by substantial evidence.”

OSHA announced its new emergency temporary standard that will affect more than 84 million workers. Under the mandate, employers with more than 100 employees must develop, implement and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy. Employers also may adopt a policy that requires employees to choose between receiving the vaccine or undergoing regular COVID-19 testing and wearing face coverings.

The emergency temporary standard does not require employers to pay for testing, although low or no-cost COVID-19 tests are available at health centers and select pharmacies nationwide.

As of Thursday, Rabine’s companies already were suffering from “severe worker shortages,” according to the petition. The businessman estimated that 20% of those workers will leave because of the mandate, according to an affidavit filed with Thursday’s lawsuit.

“Many of our employees must have specialized training and knowledge about industry safety, machinery and repair processes – knowledge that cannot be learned quickly,” Rabine wrote in the affidavit. “For all of these reasons, our companies face a limited pool of potential hires to fill any vacancies, and new hires cannot become immediately operational.”

OSHA could not be reached for comment Friday.