Sep 20, 2021

Baker Vaccine Mandate - Questions Answered

September 20th- NAGE resumed bargaining with the HRD regarding the impact of the COVID vaccine mandate Friday, 9/17.  As you know, NAGE strongly supports protecting our member's health and safety in the workplace and the efforts being made to get more individuals within our state vaccinated. However, NAGE does not agree that our members should lose their position or be harmed due to the mandate.  Although we are bargaining over this matter, this will not prevent HRD from disciplining employees, not in compliance with the mandate by October 17th
HRD reiterated yet again that anyone not vaccinated as of the deadline of October 17th will be subject to discipline up to and including terminationNAGE will defend any disciplined member for declining to comply with the Governor’s Vaccination order. In most cases, grievances will be filed on behalf of the disciplined or terminated member. However, we want all members to be aware that the grievance process can take up to a year or more before arbitration begins

Most of this session focused on NAGE’s questions regarding the email concerning the attestation and exemption process that was sent to employees last week, see HRD’s message HERE Although NAGE did not receive many responses to the information requests it has made in this matter, the following information was provided during the session:
1. There is no appeal process if an employee is denied a medical or religious exemption, despite NAGE’s objections.
2. Per HRD, religious and medical exemptions will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the executive order and the law.
3. Regarding the religious exemption, you are not required to provide a letter from a spiritual leader for the religious exemption. However, providing one would be considered evidence of your sincerely held religious belief.
4. You are required to provide a letter from a physician for the medical exemption form as evidence of medical contraindication to the COVID vaccine.
5. A wet signature is not required for exemption forms. An electronic signature is acceptable.
6. False statements made regarding exemption forms or about receiving the vaccine are considered a terminable offense
7. HRD has continually refused to extend the deadline and will discipline anyone not in compliance with the vaccine mandate as of the October 17th deadline. HRD indicated that agencies will follow progressive discipline.  They will impose a 5-day suspension, then a 10-day suspension, and then termination. NAGE will file grievances for any member disciplined but the process can take a year or more to reach arbitration.
8. Employees who do not wish to be vaccinated can resign/retire instead of termination ahead of the deadline. Unemployment benefits are determined by the Division of Unemployment Assistance and therefore it is unknown whether unemployment benefits will be provided to employees who resign because of the mandate.
 
NAGE will be meeting again with the commonwealth Thursday, 9/23 and we will update you on any progress.


The American Labor Movement has consistently demonstrated its devotion to the public interest. It is, and has been, good for all America. - John F. Kennedy
NAGE HEADQUARTERS 159 Burgin Parkway
Quincy, MA 02169
Main Phone: (617)376-0220
Main Fax: (617)984-5695
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