Most of the people and companies that climb communications towers for a living in the U.S. don’t want a vaccine mandate. And their industry association is telling the government so.
NATE: The Communications Infrastructure Contractors Association said its member companies are worried about retaining their workforce if a federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate is implemented.
After President Biden and the Occupational Health & Safety Administration announced a mandate for private sector employees, NATE ran a survey of its members and now has sent a letter to OSHA expressing concern.
“According to NATE’s survey, nearly 80 percent of NATE members are opposed to a federal government mandate that workers be vaccinated,” the association wrote.
“While NATE members generally oppose the vaccine mandate, many NATE members are encouraging and incentivizing employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Almost 20 percent of NATE members have either paid employees to get vaccinated or are considering similar incentives.”
It said the survey affirmed that its members are concerned a mandate would exacerbate workforce challenges they already face. Tower service companies already face a workforce shortage of almost 15,000 people, according to NATE.
“In fact, approximately 85 percent of NATE members believe that some staff would resign if they are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19, and 30 percent of respondents indicated they would lose more than half of their workers.”
The association said NATE members, like companies in other expert trades, “have struggled to recruit skilled workers.” It said the possibility of losing a significant number of technicians is a serious concern and comes at a time when America is investing billions of dollars in broadband projects.
“Furthermore, this could even impact the ability to deploy broadband and high-speed communications on federal lands and in federal buildings. Many NATE members, approximately 60 percent, either work on federal projects or have in the past, and if they are unable to hire and train workers to complete these federal contracts, then the government’s own broadband goals may be unfulfilled.”
NATE said tower labor is done primarily outdoors and at elevations that minimize risk of exposure and immediate interactions with other people.
“Americans needed tower technicians and communications workers to help lead us through the transition to remote learning and working, and tower technicians did not stop doing their jobs due to the fear of COVID.” The association urged OSHA “to strongly consider the workforce and economic ramifications that the ETS and any federal vaccine mandates could have on our industry as well as on every American.”
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