People hold up signs in protest of Gov. Jay Inslee’s latest proclamations during a Rally for Medical Freedom on Aug. 25 in Buckley. Photo by Alex Bruell/Sound Publishing

People hold up signs in protest of Gov. Jay Inslee’s latest proclamations during a Rally for Medical Freedom on Aug. 25 in Buckley. Photo by Alex Bruell/Sound Publishing

State workers get incentive to comply with vaccine mandate

An agreement between the state and their union also provides for some leeway in meeting the deadline.

Washington’s largest union of public service workers has struck a deal with the state to provide employees an incentive to get a COVID-19 vaccination by the Oct. 18 deadline set by Gov. Jay Inslee — and ways for them to avoid getting fired if they don’t.

Under the tentative agreement, members of the Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE) will receive an extra day off in 2022 if they comply with the governor’s mandate.

It also says that if a worker receives the first dose of a vaccination late and fails to become fully vaccinated by the deadline, they can take up to 30 days off without pay to become fully vaccinated, according to information released by the union. Employees who file to retire by the end of this year and are not vaccinated by the deadline will be able to use accrued leave as well as time off without pay right up until their retirement date.

And the accord calls for timely handling of exemption requests. Employees who seek an exemption by Sept. 13 and are still awaiting an answer on Oct. 18 will not lose any pay as the process plays out and a decision is provided, according to the union.

A ratification vote by the nearly 47,000-member union begins at 7 p.m. Tuesday and closes at 11:59 p.m. Sept. 9.

Inslee issued the vaccine mandate for state employees and health care workers on Aug. 9 and expanded it to include employees of schools and colleges the following week.

On Aug. 26, the Washington Federation of State Employees filed an unfair labor practice claim against the state in Thurston County Superior Court. Union leaders said they endorse vaccination but contended the state needed to negotiate the impacts of the mandate under the collective bargaining agreement with workers.

“From day one, we have encouraged WFSE members to follow public health guidance,” union spokesman Justin Lee said in an email. “Experts agree that a combination of vaccination, masking and social distancing are key to a safe return to normal.”

To be considered fully vaccinated, a person must receive the last dose of a vaccine at least two weeks before Oct. 18.

On that basis, a person would need to begin the two-shot regimen of the Moderna vaccine by Sept. 6 or the Pfizer vaccine by Sept. 13. Johnson & Johnson, which is one shot, could be obtained up until Oct. 4.

Mike Faulk, Inslee’s press secretary, issued a statement Saturday noting the tentative agreement “affirms the requirement” for state employees not covered by an exemption to be vaccinated by the deadline.

Terms of the deal aim to ensure employees receive support and resources to meet the deadline and “address unique situations around the process of exemption request and subsequent accommodations,” the statement read.

“The goal throughout the implementation is to achieve increased vaccinations within our workforce,” it stated. “We are confident that through our negotiation efforts and partnership going forward, we have clarified issues to help employees get on the path towards vaccination and ultimately provide for safer workplaces.”


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@auburn-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.auburn-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in News

Auburn Symphony Orchestra pianist Anton Nel. Photo courtesy of Anton Nel.
Live entertainment returns to Auburn this fall

Theater, comedy and music performances available.

Auburn Station. Photo by Henry Stewart-Wood.
Sound Transit offers train rides to and from Seahawks games

Fans can catch a ride from Auburn Station

T
Meet King County Council District 7 candidate Dominique Torgerson

Torgerson is running against incumbent Pete von Reichbauer in the Nov. 3 general election.

T
Meet King County Council District 7 candidate Pete von Reichbauer

Incumbent is running against challenger Dominique Torgerson in the Nov. 3 general election.

File photo.
Arrest made in relation to shooting death of Auburn-area woman

A 30-year-old man was taken into custody by King County Sheriff deputies.

Map of proposed landfill expansion sites (screenshot from King County website)
Waste management expert knocks county’s plan to expand landfill

The waste management advocate said the decision to expand seems pre-determined despite assessment.

Photo of car crash that killed two innocent victims. Screenshot courtesy of Auburn Police Department
3 dead after suspect in fatal shooting causes car crash

The crash killed two in the victim car.

File photo.
Dead body found after seven-hour standoff at Auburn house

An adult male was taken into custody, according to KC Sheriff’s Office.

Most Read