Did you read the Mankato Free Press this morning with the headline that “Region has 10th confirmed COVID-19 death in November” ? Ten day in “just three days” after “October’s 42 deaths made it the second deadliest out of all months during the pandemic.” South-central Minnesota’s nine counties (Brown, Blue Earth, Faribault, Le Sueur, Martin, Nicollet, Sibley, Waseca, and Watonwan counties) have combined for 331 confirmed COVID-19 deaths.
In light of this and with the news that the “newly approved COVID-19 vaccines for children between ages 5-11 will be available soon in Mankato and the south-central region”, I was encouraged when my email box was updated with a “Hagedorn Report : Special Edition” … surely, Congressman Hagedorn would want to express compassion for the families of the deceased and alert everyone to the FDA news.
But that’s not what it was … it was instead a “survey” wanting to know “Do you support the Biden Administration’s vaccine mandate for federal employees?” Before asking the question, Congressman Hagedorn wrote “As millions of Americans prepare for the upcoming holiday travel season, the Biden Administration’s vaccine mandate may force thousands of Transportation Safety Administration employees off the job just three days before Thanksgiving – the biggest travel day of the year.” Congressman Hagedorn adds “As of November 22nd, the nearly forty percent of TSA employees that have not reported their vaccine status are subject to termination, which could lead to potential security shortages at airports across the country during the year’s peak travel season.”
The casual reader might get the impression that 40% of the workers are objecting to getting the vaccine, yet this number is based on how many people have reported that they have gotten the vaccine. TSA officials have responded to this misleading suggestion stating that “TSA personnel are in jobs where they are not readily in front of computers, adding many Transportation Security Officers do not have government-issued equipment to submit required information and responses to government-issues surveys. The spokesperson also said TSA responses to surveys are often delayed in comparison to other DHS components but eventually catch up.”
Considering that nearly all major airlines are pushing the vaccines, and passengers have limited exposure to the pilots, wouldn’t you feel more comfortable knowing that the TSA person doing a “pat down” has been vaccinated ? In March of 2021, before the vaccines were readily available, there were 6,800 TSA employees who had been diagnosed with COVID-19, today there are more than 10,000 TSA employees have been diagnosed.
Employees have the right to quit their jobs if their employer requires safety measures that the employee does not want to adhere to … and considering that TSA airport security salaries typically begin at the D pay band, which is $13.60 to $20.40 per hour, there are plenty of other jobs available at those wages.
Of course some employees have unions that may be able to negotiate for them … but Congressman Hagedorn’s past votes indicate that he is not in favor of empowering unions (Reference : House passed in a Bipartisan vote H.R.1140 – Rights for Transportation Security Officers Act of 2020 with Congressmen Hagedorn and Emmer being the only NO votes from the Minnesota delegation.)
The irony in this is that this week, Congressman Hagedorn has not been in Washington for roll call votes …. citing that he was “unable to attend procedures in the House Chambers due to the ongoing health emergency” … the boilerplate statement issued by many Members of Congress blaming Covid for why they are not in Washington. Hmmm … so does that mean that because of Covid, Congressman Hagedorn can’t fly to Washington ?