Boston police union slams mayor's updated vax mandate

A labor agreement signed less than two weeks ago allowed testing in lieu of vaccination

By Rick Sobey
Boston Herald
BOSTON — A Boston police union is looking to fight the city's new coronavirus vaccine mandate, as the union rips Mayor Michelle Wu for taking away the COVID-19 testing option.

The previous labor agreement that allowed city employees to either be fully vaccinated or submit to weekly COVID tests was torn up by the city's administration last week, argues the Boston Police Superior Officers Federation.

Less than two weeks after the labor agreement was signed, Wu announced that all city employees must be vaccinated by Jan. 15 or face termination.

Then-mayoral candidate Michelle Wu speaks during a Town Hall forum, Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021.
Then-mayoral candidate Michelle Wu speaks during a Town Hall forum, Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

"The Federation strongly condemns the City and the Mayor's blatant disregard for and violation of our legally binding contract," the union said in a statement. "We believe that this agreement and the City policy, which encourages vaccination and provides a rigorous testing alternative, has been effective."

"We are exploring our legal options to enforce this binding agreement and our rights to represent sworn supervisors," the federation added.

The union said it's not anti-vaccination, but is pro-collective bargaining and public safety.

"We fear Mayor Wu's unfair labor practices and disregard of negotiated contracts will have real-world negative impacts," the union said. "Our police department, already desperately understaffed, cannot afford to lose any more police officers willing to work a dangerous job."

The city is implementing the vax mandate as COVID cases surge amid the extremely contagious omicron variant.

Boston's new mandate will be in line with the state's mandate that requires vaccination. The first Massachusetts State Police trooper was fired over the state mandate last week.

"As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, the City has acted within its authority, and with the advice of public health officials, to require vaccination for all city workers, aligning our policy with that of the state and with public-serving employers across the country," a city spokesperson said in a statement.

"The previous Administration's policy in no way limits the City's authority to make this necessary update, although like the previous policy, the impacts will also be negotiated," the spokesperson added. "This plan builds in appropriate time for compliance, and our expectation is that all of our city's workforce will join us in protecting our communities by taking every action possible to end this pandemic."
(c)2021 the Boston Herald

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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