Vaccine mandate for state employees now in impact, union attorneys declare it violates their contract

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) – The state of California’s mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for employees in the workplace should go into effect Monday.

According to Governor Gavin Newsom, the strict rules are designed to stop the surge in infections, which is mainly due to the Delta variant of the disease.

The new policy requires employees in government workplaces to be vaccinated or to perform regular COVID-19 tests and to wear masks while working.

How it will be implemented or enforced is unclear as there are 246,000 civil servants in dozens of departments and agencies.

“Nobody knows exactly what’s going on,” said Richard Lewis Brown, president of SEIU Local 1000.

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SEIU Local 1000 is the largest state workers’ union with 56,000 contributing members and represents over 100,000 workers.

“Some agencies say, ‘Don’t worry, we’re not going to take adverse action against you.’ Other agencies are threatening our representative employees, and not just Local 1000 but the other 11 public sector unions, ”Brown told FOX40.

Brown blames Newsom for a haphazard policy that was not well thought out.

Union lawyers say the policy violates their contract, which requires a meet-and-conference process prior to any change in terms of employment.

Jacob McQuirk says the Department of Water Resources staff are performing vital tasks that cannot be interrupted.

“I think the vaccinations and the mandatory tests are a good thing, anything we can do to keep our employees safe so we can take care of this critical work is important to me,” said McQuirk.

Prior to the pandemic, government workplaces often had many workers grouping together to interact and hold meetings.

While it is true that not many workers are back in their offices and still working from home, there are workers who have to show up to their workplaces. Some jobs require interaction with the public.

The state prison system employs 65,000 workers, only 52% of whom are vaccinated.

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The Association of Correctional Peace Officer’s, which represents 28,000 correctional officers and probation officers, endorses the new policy.

Brown says his union is not against vaccinations or masks. Instead, he wants the governor to abide by the union agreement.

“It’s not about whether I should be vaccinated or not vaccinated,” explained Brown. “It’s about the state of California violating our contract again.”

The union has filed a complaint with the Public Employment Relations Board about the new policy.

They also say the state has consulted with them dozens of times in the past 18 months on COVID-related policies and procedures, but it did not do so with the governor’s vaccination policy.

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