FILE – COVID-19 vaccine trials

(The Center Square) – For the New Mexico Chamber of Commerce, the jury is still out on President Joe Biden's proposal to mandate vaccines for many private sector workers.

According to the White House, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is developing a rule requiring all employers with 100 or more workers to either mandate vaccinations or require a negative COVID-19 test each week for employees before coming to work.

"We believe that employers have every right to protect their workforce and their customers," chamber president and CEO Rob Black told The Center Square.

But the chamber is still waiting to see what the OSHA rules are on the federal vaccine mandate. Many questions remain unanswered, Black said.

"When you think about an employer of 100 people, is that full-time equivalent, does it include part-time or seasonal employees?" Black asked.

Another question is who will pay for the testing, Black said.

"Is that the responsibility of the employer or is the federal government paying for that?" he asked. "I think there are a lot of questions that are unanswered."

Those questions have delayed some employers from imposing their own mandates, Black said.

"They don't know what the rules are going to be and they don't know whether their mandate will be in compliance with that," Black said.

There has been some concern that the mandate could make an already tight labor market even tighter, Black said.

"I actually think it would cut the other way," he said. "Many employees are hesitant to go back to an environment where they feel they may be at risk. If they know that their employer is requiring everyone in the workplace to be vaccinated and even their customers to be vaccinated, they may feel safer going back to the workplace."