Fight against Boston vaccine mandate continues despite COVID test proposal


Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and three Boston first responder unions have still not reached a resolution.

Protesters demonstrate against Boston Mayor Michelle Wu’s vaccination mandate for city employees outside the daily table where Wu was scheduled to appear on Tuesday. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Team

It appears Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and the local police and fire unions are no closer to reaching a resolution on the Boston employee vaccination mandate issue, although Wu reportedly made a concession. important this weekend.

The city, unions and other stakeholders met at Parkman House for nine hours on Friday, Mayor Wu said in a statement Sunday, but no progress was made in resolving the dispute.

During the meeting, Wu said, the City of Boston offered to add a COVID-19 testing option for employees that would prevent them from being fired for not being vaccinated once the mandate is in place.

While some unions have demanded the testing option currently available to city employees, Wu’s proposal would have been very different.

The proposed testing option would require employees to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test twice a week, instead of once a week under the current policy, WCVB reported.

But perhaps more importantly, it would require employees to take unpaid administrative leave if the pandemic reached certain surge levels in the city.

If Boston had a community COVID-19 positivity rate greater than 5%, an intensive care unit occupancy rate greater than 95%, or a rate of more than 200 COVID-19 hospitalizations per day, the administrative discharge protocol would enter in effect, according to WCVB.

The news station said city employees would be allowed to use accrued vacation, compensatory or personal time off to avoid being furloughed, but not accrued sick leave. He also said the proposed unpaid administrative leave would not be disciplinary or subject to contractual grievance or arbitration procedures.

“Our administration has invested significant time and resources in good faith negotiations to address union concerns about the impacts of a vaccination requirement policy,” she said. “…It is unfortunate that partners and leaders I respect continue to deny members the responsibility to get vaccinated during this pandemic.”

The development comes in the wake of Boston Fire Department Local 718 accusing Mayor Wu of blocking discussion of the mandate on Twitter.

How Mayor Wu and the city’s unions got here

When Mayor Wu announced a vaccination mandate for all city employees that made vaccination a condition of employment on December 20, 2021, the new policy was quickly met with backlash.

In January, three first responder unions — Boston Firefighters Local 718, Boston Police Superior Officers Federation and Boston Police Detectives Benevolent Society — petitioned Suffolk Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Locke to block enforcement of the warrant.

  • Fight against Boston vaccine mandate continues despite COVID test proposal

    Here’s where things stand for Boston’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate

Locke ultimately ruled against them, saying public health outweighed their claims of harm.

The three unions then appealed the decision, and an appeals court judge issued a temporary suspension of the mandate until the court rules on its legality.

This interrupted the January 31 deadline for employees to get vaccinated or fired – a deadline that had already been extended earlier that month.

While the warrant itself was locked up in court, the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association — the department’s largest employee union — tried to help resolve the issue by voting on a memorandum in agreement with the city, but the memorandum failed.

Following the dispute, Boston city councilors Erin Murphy, Michael Flaherty, and Frank Baker expressed concern for union rights and dismay that the Council had been largely excluded from the decision-making process.

On Feb. 2, Murphy filed a hearing order to discuss the terms of reference and any potential settlements the city has attempted to reach with its respective employee unions.

Notably, the Boston Police Department and Boston Fire Department claimed to have vaccination rates above 95% and 91%, respectively, while Mayor Wu said that more than 95% of all employees of the city were vaccinated.

At present, the mayor’s office appears confident in its legal position and may be waiting to see if the appeals court upholds the warrant following its latest efforts to quell the dispute.

On the union side, representatives appear keen to maintain opposition to the mandate in order to keep pressure on Mayor Wu.


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