Rantz: Meet the Resistance. They’ll be fired for rejecting the COVID vaccine mandate

Aug 29, 2021, 8:48 PM | Updated: Aug 30, 2021, 11:08 am
vaccine mandate, rally...
In Olympia, Washingtonians gathered at a rally in protest of Governor Jay Inslee's vaccine mandate. (Photo: Listener submitted)
(Photo: Listener submitted)

A growing number of Washingtonians say they are willing to be fired over Governor Jay Inslee’s COVID vaccine mandate. Call them members of a vaccine mandate resistance. They reject Inslee’s overreach.

The increasing resistance to Inslee’s order threatens to upend staffing at agencies statewide. Inslee says if state workers, school staff, and health care workers do not get vaccinated, they will lose their jobs. They will not qualify for unemployment.

They’re not eager to lose a job in order to make a point, but the threat of termination won’t stop them from standing up for medical autonomy.

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Meet the Resistance

This resistance comprises a diverse group of Washington employees who feel called to take a stand. They are Washington State Patrol troopers, Washington State Department of Transportation biologists, teachers, and more.

Some do not want the vaccine because of health concerns. Others are vaccinated but don’t want to turn over private medical documents to the state under threat of termination.

Many have religious convictions they need to uphold. They are particularly disgusted that the governor’s office purposefully wrote the religious exemption form to disqualify as many religious staff as possible.

Others don’t think it’s your business if they choose vaccination or not. Their body, their choice, their right to keep it private.

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Trooper Robert LaMay

Washington State Trooper Robert LaMay has vast experience with the department.

LaMay has been serving the state of Washington for over 22 years and holds special training to work with members of the public experiencing a mental health crisis. He’s also deeply religious and says he hasn’t taken vaccines as an adult.

For him, this mandate was the last straw.

“There’s no trust within this state anymore. We can’t trust what’s going on. We don’t like the bully pulpit,” he tells the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “They’ve changed law enforcement to the point where we can’t really do our jobs. So now you’re telling us we have to do a mandated vaccination, or we’re terminated? It is a moral issue, but it’s also a freedom issue. To be able to mandate that people have to do X, Y, and Z, or you will be terminated? I mean, who does that? What are we, China?”

The trooper is disturbed by the religious exemption mandate. He believes it was written to disqualify people like him. The form implies disqualification if you’ve taken medicine as an adult — something he and most religious people have done.

He submitted his exemption form, but is ready for termination if it comes to that, even though he only has two years left until retirement.

“I did put in my religious exemption. I’m going to go to try to do that, and I’m a single-income family. We have four kids. So it’s a big deal for me to leave,” he said.

The pending WSP staffing crisis?

LaMay is not the only one who will leave the WSP, according to the Washington State Patrol Troopers Association.

The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH obtained an internal poll of members taken from Aug. 9-17. They were asked about their opinions on the mandate. The results are not pretty.

When asked if they plan to refuse the vaccination, even at the risk of termination, 295 troopers said yes. In a more general question, 449 troopers said they disagree with mandatory vaccinations. Only 19 said they supported it.

Last Friday, the association sent out an email to members, also obtained by the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.

“Important questions need to be addressed, including what the agency will look like with a 20-35 percent loss of employees? How will the agency deploy resources to the areas that are most impacted?” the letter asks.

It chides the governor’s office for not negotiating the mandate with the union in good faith. This is a similar argument from the Washington Federation of State Employees, which sued the state last week over this very issue.

They are asking Inslee to push the vaccination requirement until the end of the year so that they can continue to “complete good faith bargaining.”

“I don’t know if people understand the amount of numbers we’re talking about for state employees that are looking at leaving,” LaMay warned. “I mean, we’re talking, just patrol, 400 or 500, 600 people. We have probably 800 guys that actually really work the road, the rest of them are management positions, things of that nature, … detectives. So if just a quarter of those types of people actually refused to get the vaccination and they are terminated on [Oct. 18]? That’s what the citizens of the state are actually looking at.”

It’s not just the WSP that could face huge staff losses over the mandate.

WSDOT Biologist Geoff Gray

Geoffrey Gray is a biologist for the Washington State Department of Transportation in the south-central region. He says this resistance is about maintaining freedoms and privacy.

“We should have the freedom to decide why we want to get the vaccine or not,” Gray explained to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “We should not have to be told by the government that we have to get it. That is what our resistance is about. We are not about vaccinated versus unvaccinated, … we are not about FDA approval versus experimental vaccine. We are about one single thing and that is freedom, and everybody wants freedom. Nothing is more important than freedom. That is our struggle.”

Gray is speaking out against a vaccine mandate, knowing it could hurt his career. But he says it’s worth it because, in addition to concerns over freedoms, there will be consequences to any mass firing.

“I think the public really needs to know what the consequences of the governor’s mandate are going to be on every single citizen of Washington state,” he said. “We hear that the governor wants to save lives on one side by implementing this mandate, and that is true for a subset of our population. But there’s another side of this coin. There’s going to be fallout on the other side in terms of loss of professional talent, in law enforcement, in transportation, in medicine, and nursing and corrections.”

He wonders if Inslee has truly taken into account what the aftermath will be.

STEM teacher Dylan Neary

All school staff, regardless of whether or not they work in a public or private school, must be vaccinated under the Inslee proclamation. Some teachers are saying they never signed up for that.

Dylan Neary teaches in the Monroe School District — at least for now. Neary is choosing not to get the vaccine because he’s concerned over the side effects he may experience.

Moreover, he doesn’t understand why he’s being forced to take a vaccine that doesn’t stop the spread of COVID. He points to countries like Israel and Iceland that have high vaccination rates but high case rates, too.

“I don’t understand how these highly, highly vaccinated countries are having outbreaks if the vaccine works the way they say it does,” he told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “And of course, let me remind you, … the CDC’s own website says it does not stop the spread. So then why are we being forced to take something that doesn’t do what a lot of the media is telling [us it does]?”

He is also convinced that if Inslee sees too many people apply for religious exemptions, the governor will just ditch them entirely.

“Because they are enforcing … our subservience,” he said.

Lewis County Commissioner Sean Swope sounds the alarms

There are serious concerns in Lewis County that their hospitals will be dangerously understaffed if Inslee fires nurses, doctors, or technicians.

Lewis County Commissioner Sean Swope says about 60% of the county is not vaccinated.

“If you were to take that metric alone and apply it to our health industry, … we’re going to have massive gaps of employment where we are already understaffed in our hospitals,” Swope warned on the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.

Swope says he’s heard about 40% of the emergency medical staff in the county are still unvaccinated.

“We’re going to fire all those people who have worked for the last 18 months? Now what we’re going to do is create a state of emergency on October 18 for our health industry because, as you know, people are still going to die. People are going to get in car wrecks, … have heart attacks … and they’re going to need to be taken care of. But now, we’ve just fired all of our staff …?”

Thousands rally across the state, but is anyone listening?

Rallies have intensified since the vaccine mandate was announced.

Over the weekend, thousands rallied in Olympia to protest the vaccine mandate. It garnered scant media coverage because it didn’t include Antifa violence. Moreover, not many reporters seem sympathetic to the cause of the rallygoers. They seem unwilling to continue to amplify those voices.

But if these issues aren’t adequately covered, will the public know what’s at stake?

There can be reasonable disagreements over vaccines and mandates. But ignoring the potential staffing crisis that right now seems likely is a mistake. It will result in the public being caught off guard. They’ll only know of the problem when there are dramatically understaffed law enforcement agencies, hospitals, schools, and government agencies.

If they knew of the consequences, they might put more political pressure on Inslee to change his decree.

Wake up call

I certainly can’t entirely agree with all of the reasons given for vaccine hesitancy. I believe people should get the vaccine in consultation with their doctor — if they want it. It’s what I did.

But I don’t want to be forced. A vaccine mandate is dramatic government overreach, ironically by the very Democrats who scream, “My body, my choice!” as if they mean it.

There’s room out of this mess for Inslee. He’s a political coward, so all he needs to do is pretend the vaccine rate has increased dramatically for impacted workers. Then he could end the vaccine mandate citing high enough numbers that make the situation dramatically safer. He could spin this as a win and again champion himself as a hero who is saving lives.

The warning signs are currently more like sirens. Will the public hear them when it’s too late? And will Inslee truly sacrifice 20-30% of the workforce in impacted agencies, schools, and hospitals? We’re a little over a month away from an answer.

Did you like this opinion piece? Then listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow @JasonRantz  on  Twitter,  Instagram, and Parler, and like me on Facebook

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Rantz: Meet the Resistance. They’ll be fired for rejecting the COVID vaccine mandate