As I’ve been saying this week, the real test of the power of pandemic authoritarianism was never going to involve Republicans or conservatives, the former of whom won’t use their power and the latter don’t have much in the way of it.
Any real fight would have to involve the forces that have and wield actual power in this country which are all left of center.
Now the slow collision between government health care experts and government unions is underway. The flash points have begun exploding in New York City and California, and some other locales, where vaccinations are being mandated for government and health care workers.
The Biden administration has been sending up vaccine mandate trial balloons for federal workers and one of the bigger unions just shot them down.
Various media outlets have reported that the White House is considering mandatory COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment for federal employees.
Maintaining the health and safety of our members is of paramount importance. While the APWU leadership continues to encourage postal workers to voluntarily get vaccinated, it is not the role of the federal government to mandate vaccinations for the employees we represent.
Issues related to vaccinations and testing for COVID-19 in the workplace must be negotiated with the APWU. At this time the APWU opposes the mandating of COVID-19 vaccinations in relation to U.S. postal workers.
The language here largely follows local union talking points grappling with state and city vaccine mandates. But the APWU has yet to reference the question of whether a vaccine mandate would require negotiations under labor law.
Government unions have a great deal of political power, but not much cultural power. The unions understood this dynamic and know that the cultural power lies in the hands of an upper class to whom health experts are angels of mercy standing between us and the apocalypse.
So they’re being smart by avoiding any direct confrontations. But, aside from Trumka, they also understand that their members, many of whom are minorities, or independent will push back hard against vaccine mandates or constant testing, and while they’ve sold out their members on abstractions, like immigration and the environment, vaccine mandates are immediate and visceral realities that can’t be disguised.
And so, like an iceberg and a steamship, an unstoppable force, the health expert complex, and an immovable object, government unions, are on a collision course.
It seems likeliest that the expert class will blink, but it’s become so arrogant that the Biden administration and Democrat governments may have to do it for them.