The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 6-3 ruling along ideological lines, in January struck down the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's proposed vaccination mandate for private businesses with 100 or more employees.
The news was met with sighs of relief from the rubber and plastics industries where many businesses were struggling to work out how they were going to control a situation they had very little control in.
"When the mandate came in to play, that was astronomical," said Phillip Walker, an occupational health and safety consultant and owner of Alert Safety Technologies. "And the potentials for noncompliance with that was catastrophic. It had catastrophic potential."
Financial responsibilities and medical gray areas aside, employers worried they would lose employees who refused to comply with the mandate. It was a factor they feared would compound the labor shortage already plaguing the industry.
Walker has had conversations with employees who refuse to be vaccinated and those who have threatened to find work elsewhere should the company they work for implement vaccine mandates. It's easy to see the passion on both sides of the issue, he said.
"There is more than a Webster dictionary controversy over it," Walker said. " … There are so many personal, heart-felt, gut-felt feelings toward the vaccine and the whole situation."