Click for audio Politics Threatens Vaccine Lab Jobs

One group of state employees wants nothing more than to become private sector workers, but political wrangling from one state representative stands in their way.

Last December, employees at the Michigan Biologic Products Institute, the state-owned vaccine lab, held a demonstration at the state capitol to protest delays in the sale of their lab to the private sector.

The Michigan legislature approved the sale over a year ago, but Representative Ling Brewer is challenging the results of the lab’s independent financial audit by a top accounting firm. He claims the lab’s market value—pegged at zero to 10.5 million dollars—is too low, and wants another audit.

Proponents of the sale point out that further delays will decrease the amount for which the state can sell the lab, hurting taxpayers, those who need the vaccines, and employees.

Employees at the Institute, which has lost money every year of its existence, are concerned about their jobs. Last year, the Food and Drug Administration threatened to shut down the lab unless expensive repairs were made—repairs the state has been unwilling or unable to make.

Political squabbling should not be placed ahead of sound economics and the livelihoods of state employees.

For the Mackinac Center, this is Catherine Martin.