As we head into the weekend, we want to update you on vaccine negotiations and the status of our 2021-2023 collective bargaining agreement.
On Sunday, our Union negotiation committee will be in mediation with the State in an attempt to address unresolved issues over the Governor's Vaccine Proclamation.
We need to be clear in my communication with you: This negotiation is not about stopping the mandate. If you are not vaccinated, we encourage you to make a plan to get vaccinated. Absent a medical or religious exemption or other extenuating circumstance, you have until September 13th to receive your first dose of Pfizer and October 4th to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Please do not wait until the last minute as we continue to hear that access to Johnson & Johnson is very limited.
The State's hardline position that even employees granted a medical or religious exemption will likely be out of a job will not be tolerated by your Union. There are legitimate reasons and extenuating circumstances that preclude some employees from receiving the vaccine by October 18th. The rigidity of the State's deadline has created a barrier to getting more people vaccinated. Instead of working with employees to get them vaccinated, the State wants to force them into leave without pay or threaten them with termination. Your bargaining committee is committed to protecting you in these situations.
If the State is threatening you, please contact your local Union Representative immediately.
We are adamant in our position that the State must continue to provide for the safety and security of its employees after the October 18th deadline. We recognize the severity of the public health crisis. At the same time, we are worried that many of our DOC members will choose to leave State service by the Governor's deadline. If that occurs, we do not believe the State will be able to provide a safe and humane correctional system, which will negatively impact our members and the incarcerated individuals living in prisons across Washington state. We continue to get updated data from the State that includes vaccination rates, contingency planning, and other details needed to assess staffing levels moving forward.
2021-2023 COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT
Many of you have inquired about the status of your 2021-2023 Collective Bargaining Agreement. I assure you, it is still moving forward. On August 27th, we finished our interest arbitration hearing and are waiting for a decision from the arbitrator. The arbitrator is currently writing an opinion that will decide the economic components of our contract.
The arbitrator has assured us that he will issue his award no later than September 24th. As soon as we receive his award, we will share it with you and provide highlights and our analysis.
We know this is an extraordinarily stressful time for many DOC families. If you have questions or concerns, you can always reach out to our DOC rep team.
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