Your employer decided to mandate COVID vaccines as a condition of employment. Your Union has demanded to bargain the decision and the effects of this decision.
Teamsters members' responses to this news are mixed. Some members have agreed with the mandate based on safety concerns, citing the fact that we have lost three officers in the line of duty due to COVID in the past 18 months. Additionally, COVID outbreaks continue in our prison system. There is a genuine worry of contracting the virus while at work.
Others have conveyed profound objection and feel violated by what they believe is an improper and unreasonable mandate. Many of you feel you must make the untenable decision between getting a vaccination you disagree with and maintaining a career that sustains you and your family's livelihood.
I assure you your Union does not take these concerns lightly. We will explore all avenues as we prepare to enter into the negotiations to help you through this difficult time.
It is important that you have clarity on what to expect from these negotiations. First and foremost, it is improbable that the Governor will reverse the decision to mandate the vaccine. We have reached out and continue to confer with legal resources. To date, it appears the State has legal footing to require vaccinations. We have seen litigation in other states upholding the mandate and terminations for failing to provide proof of immunization.
Some of the effects that we hope to mitigate through negotiations include:
- A straightforward process for medical exemptions as required under the law;
- A straightforward process for religious exemptions as required under the law;
- Layoff rights and access to benefits for those who ultimately decide to separate from employment rather than vaccinate;
- Safety protocols and protections for those who choose to continue to work, such as dealing with staffing shortages; and
- Paid Leave for adverse reactions to the vaccine.
If you believe you qualify for a medical or religious exemption under the law, email your local human resources office simply stating that you are seeking an exemption. You need to go on record to protect your rights under the law while we move through the bargaining process.
Again, your employer has decided to mandate vaccines. We will meet with the DOC as soon as possible to negotiate, and we will communicate our progress so you and your family can make an informed decision.
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