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Andrea Hsu

Omicron has left employers around the country short of workers. Sometimes very short.

At United Airlines, CEO Scott Kirby said nearly a third of the workforce called out sick on one day alone at Newark Liberty International Airport.

At MOM's Organic Market, some of its East Coast stores have had to deal with 15 out of 50 workers out on a single day.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


And now I want to bring in NPR's labor and workplace correspondent Andrea Hsu, who's been listening in.

Hi, Andrea.


America's entrepreneurial spirit remains strong during the pandemic.

That's the takeaway from new numbers released by the U.S. Census Bureau on Wednesday, which found that a whopping 5.4 million new business applications were filed in 2021, surpassing the record set in 2020 of 4.4 million.

Amid a flurry of flight cancellations, United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby offered a window into the staffing challenges employers are facing due to the omicron surge.

"We have about 3,000 employees who are currently positive for COVID. Just as an example, in one day alone at Newark, nearly one-third of our workforce called out sick," he wrote in a memo to employees on Tuesday.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


We turn now to a story about America's workers. This year there was a fundamental shift in the balance of power between employers and the millions of people who work for them. NPR's Andrea Hsu has a look at how we got here.

New York City's strict vaccine requirements get even stricter as of Monday. Everyone 12 years old and up now has to show proof of full vaccination to dine in at restaurants, go to the movies, work out in gyms, or attend any kind of indoor performance.

For Beata Moon, a composer, pianist and teaching artist in Queens, that means she will not be able to perform a recital in February at Musica Reginae, a community concert space.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


Updated December 18, 2021 at 9:29 AM ET

A Biden administration rule that requires workers at companies with 100 or more employees to be vaccinated against Covid or undergo weekly testing is back on.

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals lifted a stay on the rule Friday evening. The rule was blocked on Nov. 6, just one day after it was formally issued by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


Some employers are desperate to find workers for the holiday season, so they're trying all sorts of things to fill positions, including hiring new workers in 30 minutes or less. NPR's Andrea Hsu has the story.

Updated December 7, 2021 at 8:16 PM ET

In what the city says is "a first in the nation measure," New York City is now mandating the COVID-19 vaccine for all private sector employers, effective Dec. 27.

As Covid cases surged over the summer, Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian took action: Unvaccinated workers would have to pay an extra $200 a month for their health insurance, starting Nov. 1.

It felt less onerous than the vaccine mandate imposed on workers by rival United Airlines. But still, it was audacious.

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has won the lottery to hear legal challenges to the Biden administration's vaccine rule that affects some 84 million workers.

In the fight over who has the authority to tell companies what to do when it comes to COVID-19 and workplace safety, a random drawing could play a big role in which side prevails.

A federal court in Texas has handed United Airlines a win, for now.

A group of United employees sued the airline over its policy that puts unvaccinated workers on unpaid leave if they have been granted religious or medical exemptions to its vaccine mandate. The employees said it would cause them irreparable harm.

The group, which includes two pilots, a flight attendant and an aircraft technician, had asked the court to block the policy.

Updated November 8, 2021 at 9:25 PM ET

It took just a day-and-a-half for President Biden's vaccine-or-test rule covering 84 million workers to be blocked by a federal appeals court.

Now, the Biden administration is gearing up for a fight.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


By now you've heard - the supply chain is a mess. Storage and transportation issues are causing very costly backups. And as NPR's Andrea Hsu reports, it's unclear who's to blame or when things are going to get better.

Updated November 4, 2021 at 6:53 PM ET

In early September, President Biden announced he was taking steps to get more Americans vaccinated and turn the tide on COVID-19.

On Thursday, the administration rolled out two of those steps — two different vaccine rules covering more than 100 million workers.

Here are the details:

For 33 years, Karl Bohnak worked at his dream job delivering weather forecasts on TV for what he considers one of the most challenging but beautiful spots in the United States — Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

He became so popular that "That's what Karl says!" became a slogan at his station in the 1990s and even inspired a song.

But Bohnak's time as chief meteorologist for news station TV6 came to an abrupt end last month. He was fired after refusing to comply with the vaccine mandate imposed by his station's corporate owner, Gray Television.

ESPN college basketball and football reporter Allison Williams has joined a small minority of workers who have quit or been fired from their jobs over a vaccine mandate.

"I have been denied my request for accommodation by ESPN and the Walt Disney Company, and effective next week, I will be separated from the company," she said in a video posted to Instagram on Friday.

The workers behind Frosted Flakes, Froot Loops and Raisin Bran are striking for a better deal — for themselves and for their future co-workers.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


Workers all over the U.S. want a better deal, and they are striking or threatening to strike to get it. From factory floors to hospitals, employees are making their voices and their demands heard. NPR's Andrea Hsu has more.

In the quest to get more Americans vaccinated, one thing is becoming increasingly clear: Vaccine mandates work.

Nowhere is that more apparent than at United Airlines. On Aug. 6, United became the first U.S. airline to tell its workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19 if they wanted to keep their jobs.