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Supreme Court vaccine ruling good for businesses, Rabine says

A Republican candidate for governor, Rabine has argued against any kind of vaccine mandate

Gary Rabine, candidate for Illinois Governor, poses for a portrait at his business on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021 in Schaumburg

Bull Valley businessman and Republican gubernatorial candidate Gary Rabine said Friday that the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling this week on federal vaccine mandates for businesses is a victory for small businesses and personal freedom.

In a case from the National Federation of Independent Businesses and other business groups, the nation’s high court on Thursday ruled in a 6-3 decision that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration does not have the power to require businesses with 100 or more employees to mandate workers get vaccinated or be subject to other mitigations.

Rabine had filed a lawsuit with the Job Creators Network, one of several lawsuits across the country challenging OSHA’s standards.

The decision is “really good for businesses nationally,” Rabine said.

The court is allowing a vaccine mandate that applies to most health care workers to go forward, however. That mandate, which has medical and religious exemptions, is for health care providers who receive federal Medicare or Medicaid funding.

Others running for the Republican nomination for governor also weighed in on the court’s decision.

State Sen. Darren Bailey, R-Louisville, said in a Facebook Live video Friday that “it was pretty awesome” to see the mandates get struck down.

“To sit and to mandate this is absolute nonsense,” Bailey said.

Businessman Jesse Sullivan of Petersburg posted a video on his Twitter account Friday at a rally against vaccine mandates.

“Vaccine mandates, it is this sign, it is un-American,” he said, pointing to a sign at the rally. “Government does not know better. Our family, our parents know best.”

An attempt to reach incumbent Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker’s office Friday was unsuccessful.

Rabine said the government should not have the power to require employees to be vaccinated if they work at a business. He went a step further to say businesses also shouldn’t be able require their employees to get vaccinated.

“I think it should be totally against the law for private companies to do it, in my opinion,” Rabine said.

Rabine owns the Rabine Group, a Schaumburg-based paving company. He said his company did survey employees about a vaccine requirement last year and found 25% of the workforce would have left their jobs if vaccines were required.

“Two years ago, if we would’ve demanded our teammates and our businesses to do anything against their health and their religious beliefs, we would’ve [gotten] sued, we would’ve lost, and we would’ve deserved to lose,” he said. “For government to overstep and change that to make it OK for individuals to be told they must do something against their own health wishes or own religious issues [is] crazy.”

Rabine, who garnered attention over the summer because of several false claims he made about vaccines, stressed he is not against vaccines but only against the mandates.

Rabine has not been vaccinated against COVID-19, a campaign spokesman said.

“I’m pro-vaccination,” Rabine said. “I’m just worried about giving up our individual freedoms, and I don’t think business leaders or government should be jumping in to tell anybody that they must do X, Y or Z.”

Rabine said COVID-19 has largely not been an issue at his business, even as many businesses around the country struggle with staffing because employees are out sick. Many of his employees work outside, and those who have office jobs are mostly working from home, which Rabine credited for helping to keep his employees healthy.

Now Rabine is worried the state could create its own mandate after the Supreme Court left that door open.

“In the states that are farther on the left side of the fence, they will probably still try to follow through on this,” he said.

The Illinois Department of Labor posted on its website that it would pause enforcement of the state’s vaccine mandate as it evaluates the Supreme Court’s ruling.

Instead of focusing on mandates that can hurt “lives and livelihoods,” Pritzker should focus on keeping businesses in the state open, Rabine said.