The Biden administration has tightened the leash on federal employees and businesses, issuing a number of vaccine mandates in an attempt to curb COVID-19. But some on social media are claiming not everyone is beholden to the new rules.
"Post office workers exempt from vaccine mandates...Are you paying attention yet," a Sept. 9 Facebook post reads.
The post, which attributes its information to The Washington Post, acquired more than 900 likes and 400 shares in two days.
While the original assertion that postal workers were exempt from the vaccine mandate did come from a Washington Post reporter, that's false. Postal workers will be required to abide by the rules from the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The Washington Post reporter issued an update on social media and the story itself.
USA TODAY reached out to the post's creator for comment.
As part of his plan to quash COVID-19, President Joe Biden announced a set of executive orders Sept. 9 that mandate vaccination for federal workers in the executive branch, as well as contractors.
He also said OSHA will issue an “emergency temporary standard” that will require businesses with more than 100 employees to fully vaccinate their workers or face weekly testing, a plan that could affect more than 80 million people.
Shortly after the news broke, Washington Post reporter Jacob Bogage tweeted that an unnamed White House official told him postal workers would not be included in Biden's vaccine requirement, though they would be "strongly encouraged" to comply.
USPS has more than 600,000 employees, according to the Pew Research Center.
But the Post reporter later issued an update on Twitter to reflect that the information was incorrect.
"JUST IN: White House official now says USPS workers ARE part of the federal vaccine mandate under OSHA jurisdiction, though technically not under the executive order," Bogage tweeted, adding that he had deleted the previous Twitter thread based on earlier reporting.
Because USPS is an independent agency within the executive branch, it does not fall under the jurisdiction of the executive order. But postal workers will still be subject to the OSHA requirements, White House officials confirmed to USA TODAY.
“USPS is not included in the executive order requiring vaccination of federal employees," a White House spokesperson said in an email statement. "USPS has a separate statutory scheme and is traditionally independent of federal personnel actions like this. That said, USPS is strongly encouraged to comply. Also, OSHA will cover USPS through the ETS, meaning that postal workers will be subject to the vaccination or testing policy announced yesterday."
A spokesperson for USPS told USA TODAY in an email statement that the executive order doesn’t explicitly apply to the agency because of the same reasons outlined by the White House, adding that the agency is working with union leadership to determine how to implement OSHA's regulations.
We rate the claim that postal workers are exempt from the Biden administration's vaccine mandate FALSE, because it is not supported by our research. Postal workers will be required to abide by OSHA's rules. The Washington Post reporter who first reported the detail issued a clarification on social media.
Thank you for supporting our journalism. You can subscribe to our print edition, ad-free app or electronic newspaper replica here.
Our fact-check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.