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.”


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@redmond-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.redmond-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

Teaser
King County approves emergency grant after U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade

Washington is expecting an influx of people seeking abortions from out of state.

Fedor Osipov, 15, flips into Steel Lake in Federal Way during last year's heatwave on June 28, 2021. Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing
Heatwave expected to hit King County

Temperatures will likely reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit on Sunday, June 26, and Monday, June 27.

Judged by XII: A King County Local Dive podcast. The hands shown here belong to Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson, who has been charged with homicide in the 2019 death of Jesse Sarey.
JUDGED BY XII: Examining Auburn police officer’s grim tattoos

Episode 5 in special podcast series that explores Jeffrey Nelson’s role in the death of Jesse Sarey.

Derby Days. Courtesy of Experience Redmond.
Mark your calendars for Redmond’s annual Derby Days celebration

Attendees should expect two days of action-packed fun from July 8-9.

File photo.
Former Bellevue teacher sentenced in federal court over child pornography

Department of Justice says the man had 1,764 images of child sexual abuse in his possession.

Photo courtesy of King County.
Officials urge caution when swimming this summer

Cold spring temperatures and larger than normal snowpack have created dangerous conditions

File photo.
Bellevue man charged in 2019 assault that left a man dead on a Redmond roadway

After a two-year investigation, Bradley Hibbard was arrested for murder in the second degree.

File photo
Fireworks ban takes effect this year in unincorporated King County

The new law does not extend to cities, which each have their own regulations around fireworks.

Vanesha Hari. Courtesy of Workforce Career Readiness.
Redmond High School student receives national recognition for excellence

From a young age, Vanesha Hari wanted to leave the world in a better place than she found it.

Most Read