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The debate over OEM and dealership vaccine mandates

To the Editor:

The debate over vaccine mandates in any industry is raging, so it should be interesting to see where the automakers fall when it is all over. Certainly, you made valid points on each side of the argument, showing the real divide and dilemma that the companies face.

Interestingly enough, changes continue to occur so quickly; it can be hard to keep up with all the new policies being put in place. For example, Reuters reported that General Motors is now requiring all U.S.-based salaried employees to report their COVID-19 vaccine status. While there are no restrictions as of yet on whether this will hinder the employees’ ability to work, the information is going to be used for planning purposes. GM states it will help the company determine when safety protocols can be relaxed, apparently, after enough of the staff has been vaccinated. 

Even more interesting is a new Reuters poll that shows 60% of adults support employers requiring proof of vaccination before allowing employees to return to the office, yet 34% oppose any vaccine requirements. In addition, about two-thirds of adults in the United States support mask requirements in locations such as the workplace, gyms, airplanes and restaurants, while less than one-third are opposed. 

For now, the only vaccine requirement that has been announced with the automakers is through Ford. At this time, Ford requires all salaried staff traveling internationally to be fully vaccinated. With that said, the company is willing to look at imposing further restrictions.

With the labor shortage and trouble getting vehicles off the production line, now might not be the time for automakers to reduce the workforce further. On the other hand, if people continue getting sick from COVID, how many workers will there be showing up every day? There’s no easy solution to the debate.

Teresa McKinney

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