Watch CBS News

'A Hard Sell': How Employers Could Require Proof Of COVID-19 Vaccine

CHICAGO (CBS) -- To mandate a COVID vaccine or not.

That is the question many public and private employers are grappling with another large company saying yes. CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov reports workers opposed to a mandate may be facing some surprises.

One of them is they don't really have the right to say no if an employer requires them to get the shot.

United Airlines is the latest major company to tell employees they have to get vaccinated or take a hike.  A letter was sent to the airline's 67,000 employees asking them to submit proof by October 25.

The company is also providing a cash incentive: Employees who provide proof by September 20 will get an additional day of pay.

"I think one thing that will surprise people would be to find out that vaccines are not something new as far as a employment requirement."

Employment attorney Keri-Lyn Krafthefer said when it's been challenged in the courts, the courts has always uphold vaccine mandate.

But that doesn't mean it's not a tricky decision for CEOs and elected officials, especially now, with what employment expert Andy Challenger describes as a major labor shortage.

"I think for some organizations, they're facing such an enormous difficulty finding workers to fill the open roles that they have right now. This idea of adding an extra layer, an extra hurdle for people to enter their organization is going to be a hard sell," said Challenger of Challenger, Gray and Christmas.

Yet the number of organizations now issuing the vaccine mandate is growing. Besides United, there's Google, Disney, Facebook and Frontier Airlines. This week, Illinois' Secretary of State issued one for all his employees. Governor JB Pritzker is now requiring the COVID vaccine for all state nursing home workers.

"We've notified the unions about this necessary safety measure, requesting that they come to the negotiating table to work out the details," Pritzker said.

But if it's legal, what's there to negotiate?

"The governor wouldn't necessarily be bargaining that decision. But the implications of that decision. How will they work it out with the union? How will they decide whether or not an employee sincerely has religious beliefs," Krafthefer said.

She said religious beliefs and medical conditions are the only mandate exemptions and employers can ask for documentation.  She believes the lists of company and government vaccine mandates will grow.

But slowly.

"I believe they will be reluctant to jump into this on a massive scale. I'm seeing a lot of businesses waiting to see what their peers are doing," Krafthefer said.

CBS 2 reached out to Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot's spokesperson to ask if the mayor is considering one. They are still considering such a mandate.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.