Seattle reaches agreement with labor groups on vaccine mandate, still no deal with police union
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced Friday that the city has reached a tentative agreement with several unions on an employee vaccine mandate taking effect in October.
The agreement includes the Coalition of City Unions, Seattle Fire Fighters Union Local 27, and IBEW Local 77. As of now, city-employed workers must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 18.
“A vaccination requirement and frontline worker pay is the right thing to do to for our workforce,” Durkan said in a news release. “Our unions advocated hard for our workers, and I’m grateful for the efforts to reach these Tentative Agreements that put forward new policies to protect the health, safety, and vitality of our workforce.”
The deal would make it so any city employee who submits proof by Oct. 5 that they will be fully vaccinated by the Oct. 18 deadline will get an extra eight hours of paid time off. Employees will also get 40 hours of paid leave for COVID-related reasons, and an additional 40 if they can confirm their vaccination status by Oct. 18, totaling 80 hours.
Exceptions are carved out as well, allowing employees to keep their job if they begin the vaccination process by Oct. 18, and then be placed on leave until they are fully vaccinated. Frontline workers get an additional benefit in the form of a one-time $1,750 payment.
For those who choose to work from home until Jan. 19, 2022, the agreement provides “additional flexibility for eligible employees … unless there is a business need for their return.”
The deal notably doesn’t include the Seattle Police Officers Guild, which “continues to bargain separately since the parties have not been able to reach agreement at this time,” the city notes. According to an early-September report from the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH, over 200 officers indicated at the time that they were either not vaccinated or were refusing to turn over their medical data to the city.
King County announced earlier in the week that it had reached a deal with an estimated 95% of its own unions on a similar vaccine mandate, relaxing the timeline to vie workers a chance to avoid being fired for not being compliant if they complete the vaccination process by Dec. 2.
The Washington Federation of State Employees — the largest union of public service workers in the state — reached an agreement with Gov. Inslee in early September regarding the vaccination requirement for state workers, allowing certain accommodations for employees looking for an exemption. Inslee said Thursday, though, that there are no plans to offer an extension for state employees akin to the agreement in King County.