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Contact Joe Bauman, president,
BBChamber helps lead statewide effort to re-open office buildings
Reopen Michigan Safely Coalition Calls on Governor Whitmer to #EndTheOfficeBan on April 14th.
In anticipation of the April 14th expiration of Michigan Occupational Safety and Administration (MIOSHA) emergency rules that prohibit the reopening of business office spaces, the Reopen Michigan Safely coalition is calling on Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to #EndTheOfficeBan and allow job creators and employees across all industries to work together toward reopening safely.
Reopen Michigan Safely is a newly formed coalition of business leaders focused on re-energizing Michigan’s economy. The group was started by the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, Birmingham-Bloomfield Chamber, Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, Traverse Connect, Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce, Battle Creek Area Chamber of Commerce and Southern Wayne County Chamber of Commerce. The coalition is sounding the alarm that Michigan jobs are being permanently lost due to current restrictions, and is asking others to join the movement to reopen Michigan now.
“Our restaurants and retail establishments have suffered greatly as a result of the current work from-home mandates, and further extending the order will lead directly to more local businesses failing,” said Birmingham-Bloomfield Chamber President Joe Bauman. “Many of our member businesses have greatly reduced staff and slashed their hours of operation as a result of losing all of the customers generated from a robust office sector and are literally hanging on by a thread. Our employers and employees should be given the right to create a safe work environment following federal guidelines and determine for themselves what is the best operating practice for their individual business.”
“It is time to safely reopen Michigan for business,” said Michigan Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Rich Studley. “With the widespread distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and a substantial decrease in COVID caseloads, it is time for state government to be more proactive about saving jobs and allowing businesses to reopen. Given everything we have learned over the last year, it is time to let job creators and employees put that information to work and safely reopen our offices and other businesses.”
While the coalition is pressing for a full, and safe, reopening of all Michigan businesses, a pressing issue is the rapidly approaching April 14th expiration of Whitmer’s MIOSHA emergency orders that ban most in-person office work. Citing a provision under Michigan law, Whitmer initially implemented the rules for a six-month period. Now that the six months are nearly up, the Governor is weighing whether to unilaterally extend the rules for an additional six months. That decision point is approaching rapidly.
Originally signed last October, Whitmer’s MIOSHA emergency rules provide extensive protocols for operating safely but prohibit most in-person work. This means businesses and employers are barred from finding ways to safely reopen offices in ways that will keep our jobs and economy alive. The rules state that, “The employer shall create a policy prohibiting in-person work for employees to the extent that their work activities can feasibly be completed remotely.”
Scott Ryan, Vice President and General Counsel of Gentex, a Zeeland-based company that provides custom, high-tech electronic products for the automotive, aerospace and commercial fire protection industries, said current restrictions are holding our economy back. “Michigan’s remote working requirement has curtailed new product development efforts, hampered our ability to respond to operational concerns, negatively affected our ability to compete, and left many office employees battling isolation and depression,” said Ryan. “We’ve done the hard work to protect our employees and working together to get back to our offices safely is a major priority for us.”
Members of the coalition concur and strongly encourage the governor to work with and trust job creators and employees to reopen safely.
The Reopen Michigan Safely coalition can be found online at www.ReopenMichiganSafely.com, on Facebook at facebook.com/reopenmichigansafely and Twitter at @ReopenMISafely.