El Paso Electric employees ordered to vaccinate against COVID-19, company following federal guidelines


EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) El Paso Electric is requiring employees to be fully vaccinated by December 8, 2021.

The company, which employs 1,166 employees, 86 percent of which are already vaccinated, sent out a letter regarding the mandate.

“Although EPE does not want to lose employees due to noncompliance with federal contractor requirements, EPE must have employees who want to remain eligible to work at EPE to take the necessary steps now.”

Part of the letter sent to El Paso Electric Employee’s reads

“Basically they’re requiring everyone, we’re being considered federal contractors at this point so they’re requiring all employees to be fully vaccinated by that December 8 date or be terminated,” said David Bazar the Business manager of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 960.

El Paso Electric referring to the Executive Order (EO) 14042 signed by President Joe Biden for federal contractors and subcontractors to mandate the vaccine.

“Were governed by many regulations and rules and the federal government is operating right now is asking us as a federal contractor to make sure we are vaccinating our population,” said Robert Almanzan the Senior Director of Human Resources at El Paso Electric.

However, Texas Governor Greg Abbott also signed an executive order, GA-40 which says no entity in the state of Texas can require employees to show proof of vaccination.

“No entity in Texas can compel receipt of a COVID-19 vaccine by any individual, including any employee or a consumer, who objects to such vaccination for any reason of personal conscience, based on a religious belief, or for medical reasons, including prior recovery from COVID-19. I hereby suspend all relevant statutes to the extent necessary to enforce this prohibition,” said Greg Abbott’s executive order.

Dr. Richard Pineda, Director at the Sam Donaldson Center for Communications at UTEP, explained what the State of Texas could do.

“The first big question is whether or not the state is willing to take the federal government to court and if their willing to do that to try to challenge the way that the federal rules on this are going to be ridden, there is always a possibility that the courts might side with the state, unlikely but it is possible,” Pineda.

The local Electrical Workers Union says the position of the international union is that they want everyone to be either vaccinated or be regularly tested, which is not being offered by El Paso Electric.

“I think they could have made some exceptions especially in the area of testing and weekly testing. I was told that weekly testing would not be allowable logistically or financially,” said Bazar.

KTSM asked El Paso Electric why a weekly testing option wasn’t being offered to those employees who did not want to be vaccinated.

 “The language that speaks to testing as an option is under the OSHA standards, we are still waiting for the federal government to supply the regulations on the OSHA standards and as soon as those are produced, we will take a look to see if testing is an option,” said Robert Almanzan.

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