As we enter the fifth wave of the pandemic, several public sector employers have ordered vaccine mandates for all of their employees, which includes thousands of members of Teamsters 117.

Although we have consistently opposed employers mandating vaccination, our Union has supported and urged employers to incentivize and facilitate access to vaccines in the name of workplace safety.

We supported, for example, when employers like Safeway and US Foods offered gift cards and paid time off for workers to complete their vaccinations. We also hosted vaccination clinics at our Teamsters Building to provide members and their families with a safe, familiar space to get vaccinated.

While introducing a vaccination mandate, several considerations are critical for workers:

  • Any directive must recognize employee rights and the union's right to bargain the impacts of the mandate prior to implementation;
  • There must be clearly stated policies and practices for exemptions;
  • Vaccinations and serial COVID-19 tests must be completed on employer’s time and expense;
  • Protocols and practices must acknowledge and mitigate the impact on vaccinated workers who are called in to work mandatory overtime to cover for unvaccinated coworkers;
  • Layoff and recall rights for unvaccinated workers must be established for workers strongly opposed to such a mandate.

It is imperative that all employers have robust safety protocols, including access to PPE that meets or exceeds standards for the workplace, mask mandates, social distancing requirements, time off for workers to get vaccinated, and time to recover from side effects. Additionally, employers should have clear policies related to testing, and paid time off when workers test positive or report exposure to stop the spread of COVID in the workplace and our communities. These incentives and safety measures should be enforced prior to consideration of mandates.

“Throughout this pandemic Teamsters and other essential workers have put their health and safety on the line to fuel our economy and keep our communities safe," said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters 117. "The decision by any employer to mandate vaccines raises serious concerns. We intend to demand to bargain over this decision and its effects on our members and their families.” 

Teamsters 117 recognizes the public health emergency that COVID presents to our members and the community, and we are committed to an approach that protects workers’ health and the rights of our members in the workplace.