WSDOT accounts for 21% of state employees fired over vaccine mandate

Oct 19, 2021, 5:40 PM | Updated: Oct 20, 2021, 2:03 pm
A WSDOT truck helps to block a road. (Photo courtesy of WSDOT/Flickr)
(Photo courtesy of WSDOT/Flickr)

Of the 1,887 state employees that lost their jobs over Governor Inslee’s COVID vaccine mandate, the Washington State Department of Transportation, which includes the ferry service, accounted for 21% of the total.

State reports 92% compliance after vaccine mandate deadline

At the start of work Monday, WSDOT had 6,813 employees. By the end of the day, 402 were gone, roughly 6% of the total work force. Of that number, 358 were fired for refusing to get the vaccine. There were a total of 63 retirements, 19 were previously planned and not due to the mandate.

WSDOT reports that 88 employees requested medical exemptions and 83 were approved. There were 572 religious exemptions requested and 455 of those were approved. There were 43 medical accommodations made. Another 51 religious accommodations were approved. There are also 108 WSDOT employees who have started the vaccination process and are on leave until fully vaccinated.

The largest segment of WSDOT employees to lose their jobs falls under the ferry service, which is already struggling to crew its boats.

Washington State Ferries to operate reduced schedules due to staff shortages

The state reports that 132 ferry service employees have lost their jobs, and 121 of them were fired for refusing to get vaccinated. Eight retired instead of getting the shot, and another three retired for unknown reasons. The ferry service’s Ian Sterling said this will not help the current staffing issues.

“132 employees is 132 employees,” Sterling said. “What that means to me is the vast majority of state ferry employees are doing what they’ve been doing since day one of the pandemic and that’s keeping those boats moving back and forth as front line workers.”

Sterling did not have a breakdown of where the employees were in service.

The maintenance department also took a large hit as 175 workers in that area are no longer on the job. Eighteen of those employees chose retirement, including six that were planned and had nothing to do with the vaccine mandate.

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WSDOT accounts for 21% of state employees fired over vaccine mandate