Yesterday, the State offered a counterproposal to our demands regarding the impacts of the Governor's Proclamation on Teamsters working in DOC. The proclamation requires all State workers to be fully vaccinated by October 18, 2021.
Our union negotiation committee was able to achieve a modification to the Medical Exemption Form. The modified form will streamline the information needed and limit the State’s access to your medical records. It will also address situations where someone who currently has COVID or has recently recovered from COVID may need to delay vaccination. The earlier form stipulated that you must see a healthcare provider in Washington state. This stipulation has changed to recognize that we have members who live and seek treatment outside the State of Washington. The State will make the new form available on IDOC today.
We spent significant time in negotiations on the topic of medical and religious exemptions and what type of accommodations can be made by the State. We discussed a 30-year member who is not eligible to retire. His doctor told him he could not be vaccinated because of a heart condition. The State's response was, "We don’t have a job for him." This is not acceptable. Another member of 22-years is allergic to the vaccine. We were told by the State that he would not be accommodated. Again, this is unacceptable. Yet another member has dedicated 40 years to State service and because of a sincerely held religious belief is unable to receive the vaccine. The member is not eligible to retire, and the State says, "No job for you."
The Governor's vaccine mandate may be legally enforceable, but State employees with legitimate medical and religious exemptions AND who have dedicated their lives to public service deserve more respect.
SHAME ON YOU, DOC and GOVERNOR INSLEE!
At the bargaining table, we are introducing proposals to mitigate the unreasonable position the State is taking.
Another critical issue we are discussing is what staffing levels in our prisons will look like on October 19, 2021. The State has agreed to provide the Union with a copy of their contingency plan to deal with staffing shortages no later than September 3 on the condition that we do not distribute the details in the interest of staff and public safety. After we receive a copy of the State's plan, we will update you in a manner that does not compromise your safety.
We are back at the table with the State tomorrow, September 2. We will update you again afterward.
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