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NRF Ad Campaign Supports ‘Essential’ Infrastructure Legislation as Association Protests Vaccine Mandate

The National Retail Federation (NRF) is publicly backing the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill currently being debated in Congress with a new ad campaign. The association’s campaign includes a 30-second video titled “Fortify” along with radio and static digital ads, supported by a six-figure ad buy across connected TV, radio and social media platforms. The NRF also recently sent a letter to House leadership expressing support for the bill.

“Retailers depend on a safe, reliable and efficient transportation system to move billions of dollars’ worth of merchandise every day,” said Matthew Shay, President and CEO of NRF in a statement. “The ongoing supply chain disruptions that retailers and others are facing highlight the need for investment in a truly 21st-century infrastructure system.”

While the NRF supports the Biden administration’s plans for shoring up roads, ports and broadband access, the association isn’t happy with the new vaccine mandate for private industry announced Nov. 4. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rule requires that companies employing 100 or more people must ensure their workers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Jan. 4, 2022, or that they test negative for the virus at least once a week, according to NPR.

These stricter vaccine and testing mandates will apply to an estimated 84 million workers. Noting that the retail industry supports 25% of American jobs, the NRF called the requirements “burdensome,” particularly during the crucial holiday shopping season.

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“Over the past 19 months, retailers across the country have taken extraordinary measures to keep their employees, customers and communities safe during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said David French, SVP for Government Relations at NRF in a statement. “As part of these efforts, retailers have distributed, encouraged, incentivized and, in some instances, mandated the vaccine. Since the President’s announcement of the vaccine mandate for private industry, the seven-day average number of cases in the United States has plummeted by more than half. Nevertheless, the Biden administration has chosen to declare an ‘emergency’ and impose burdensome new requirements on retailers during the crucial holiday shopping season.”

In an Oct. 12 letter that French sent to Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, he noted that staffing shortages were already having a negative impact on the U.S. economy: “The importance of the Department promulgating a standard that is feasible for employers to implement cannot be overstated,” French wrote. “Just this past weekend, Americans were alerted to the implications of worker shortages resulting from vaccination mandates as dozens of airline flights were canceled. The staffing shortages already being experienced in the airline industry may soon impact American consumers across the economy, including in the retail industry.”

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