King County considering rehiring employees fired over vaccine mandate
Jul 22, 2023, 12:37 PM | Updated: 3:37 pm
King County council members are considering rehiring employees who were let go for failing to abide by the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
The proposal, sponsored by Councilmember Reagan Dunn, is part of a push to fill hundreds of vacant positions across King County departments, including King County Metro and the Sheriff’s Office.
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After two years of the mandate — requiring all county employees and contractors to show proof they received the vaccine — the county’s vaccine requirement expired this year on Feb. 6. Dunn claimed approximately 300 King County employees lost their jobs over failing to comply with this mandate.
“And a lot more than that number resigned early because they didn’t want to have a termination on their record,” Dunn told The Jason Rantz Show in February. “And here’s the problem. We are short. We have more than 100 vacancies for sheriff’s deputies in King County at a time when crime is at historic highs and drug overdoses are at historic highs. The cartels are moving into our community. We need officers right now.”
King County’s formal discussion to bring back the previously-fire employees began Wednesday morning after numerous public comments supported the idea during county forums.
“We still have a 20% vacancy rate,” Randy Weaver, Vice President of the King County Corrections Guild, told KIRO Newsradio. “We still are impacted by large amounts of mandatory overtime. If this helps us just get a couple of our experienced employees back it’ll help us.”
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Two hundred and eighty-one county employees were let go due to not complying with the vaccine mandate, according to the Department of Human Resources. County officials have stated more than 98% of King County employees provided proof of vaccination at the time of the mandate. The county has hired approximately 4,000 employees since the mandate.
Last year, 27 Seattle firefighters launched a lawsuit against Seattle Fire Department Chief Harold Scoggins and the City of Seattle over their terminations due to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.