Members of the Colorado Contractors Association (CCA) are pro-vaccine, but Executive Director Tony Milo contends that Denver’s mandate is too restrictive compared with President Joe Biden’s executive order that companies with 100 or more employees have their workers get vaccinated or submit to regular testing.
The CCA and six other construction associations filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for Colorado arguing that the mandate, issued by Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock on Aug. 2 with a compliance deadline of Sept. 30, violates the U.S. Constitution’s contracts clause because it substantially impairs construction firms' existing contract rights with the city.
Milo said contractors weren't given enough time to comply, due to the elevated rates of vaccine hesitancy among construction workers. According to CPWR, a not-for-profit group focused on construction safety, just 57% of construction workers are vaccinated, compared to 80% for all other industries. In Colorado, that number is 64.9%.
"We've got a large Hispanic and minority workforce, and it's been challenging for us as employers to inform workers with the facts about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine," Milo said. "We're continuing to work on it, but it's going to take some time."
The CCA's lawsuit argues that "up to half of the employees in the construction industry are vaccine hesitant — not because, as may be argued, they have some political opposition, but because the construction industry is largely made up of communities of color who are vaccine hesitant due to mistrust of the government."
Milo said the mandate effectively requires companies to fire hard-to-replace workers who aren't vaccinated. "If we lose any workers due to these vaccine mandates, there's nobody to replace them," Milo said. "We're going to have to figure out how to do projects, which is going to increase costs of projects. It's going to increase the time that it's going to take to do these projects."