As Joe Biden launches via executive order a sweeping vaccine mandate for all federal government workers, and now a brand-new initiative for private-sector mandates, the issue has once again risen to the forefront of the national dialogue.
United Airlines, for example, recently became the first U.S. airline to mandate COVID-19 vaccination for all its employees. United Airlines’ mandate takes effect on September 27, and it might augur a broader trend: A poll conducted last month by insurance and advisory firm Willis Towers Watson, for example, suggests that 52 percent of private-sector employers surveyed expect to have a workplace vaccine mandate by the end of 2021. As Biden’s brand-new announcement of a Department of Labor rule for private sector vaccination requirements now makes clear, that poll was prescient.
Against this backdrop, several Republican-leaning states have advanced laws or executive orders that prohibit private sector vaccine mandates for employees, customers, or in some other respect. That tally is now at least eight states: Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Montana, Texas, South Carolina, and South Dakota. The legal mechanics and specifics differ from state to state. But the highest-profile and most mechanically straightforward Republican-led assault on vaccine mandates is the one in my new home state, Florida.
After months of aggressively censoring what it called “COVID-19 misinformation,” Facebook recently announced that it would no longer block user posts claiming that the coronavirus was “man-made” or “manufactured.” That’s because those posts, which typically referenced the work of scientists who supported the idea of a possible coronavirus “lab leak” from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, now appear to have been credible.
This entire episode should be extremely embarrassing for Facebook, a company so confident it has cornered the market on “truth” that it has made it their prerogative to “fact-check” individual user posts, banning anything that fails to comport with Silicon Valley’s extreme left-wing view of reality. Last year, Facebook banned an ad from the American Principles Project PAC claiming Joe Biden and the Democrats would destroy girls’ sports by supporting policies that allowed boys who identify as transgender to compete against girls.
Facebook said the ad was “missing context,” and so our PAC wasn’t allowed to communicate with voters. On Joe Biden’s first day as president, he signed an executive order specifically allowing these boys to compete in girls’ sports.
The pandemic has made it clear to parents that teachers’ unions don’t represent the interests of students. And while, in theory, the union should serve the interests of teachers, in practice they have another master: the Democratic Party. When these interests don’t align, the result can be fascinating political contortions – as when Florida teachers’ unions fought against pay raises provided by the state’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis.
In October 2019, DeSantis declared that 2020 would be the “year of the teacher.” Despite the massive budgetary uncertainty presented by COVID, in March 2020 DeSantis requested $600 million for teacher raises and $300 million for teacher bonuses. The legislature delivered $500 million for raises and $100 million for bonuses, which Jacob Oliva, chancellor of the Division of Public Schools in the Florida Department of Education, described as “the single largest compensation increase ever in Florida and a statement to the nation that Florida is elevating the teaching profession.”
One might expect teachers’ unions to applaud DeSantis and call on other governors to follow his lead. Instead, some local teachers’ unions actually fought against the raises, effectively keeping money out of their own members’ pockets.