Pam Woods of Marysville was among those who gathered outside the Capitol in Olympia on Aug. 28 to protest Gov. Jay Inslee’s vaccine mandate for state workers. (Drew Perine/The News Tribune via AP)

Pam Woods of Marysville was among those who gathered outside the Capitol in Olympia on Aug. 28 to protest Gov. Jay Inslee’s vaccine mandate for state workers. (Drew Perine/The News Tribune via AP)

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.

OLYMPIA — 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. Thursday.

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.”

Jerry Cornfield: jcornfield@heraldnet.com; 360-352-8623 @dospueblos

Talk to us

More in Local News

Bufeng Gao, owner of Qin Xi'an Noodles, receives a check from the Edmonds Chamber Foundation's Wish Fund outside of her restaurant that was burned in a fire on Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021 in Edmonds, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
After arson burns Edmonds plaza, 14 businesses need help

Plum Tree Plaza — a cultural hub for Asian Americans — burned in a three-alarm fire early Sept. 11.

In 2023, the Department of Transportation will widen a two-mile stretch of Highway 531 from 43rd Avenue NE to 67th Avenue NE. (WSDOT)
Smokey Point road improvements won’t be done before industrial center

Amazon, NorthPoint are coming but the state will not begin widening Highway 531 until 2023.

Police: Mill Creek man, 63, accidentally shot by son

Detectives believe the dad was mistaken as an intruder. The injuries are not life threatening.

Man found dead in homeless camp Friday in Mountlake Terrace

His identity and cause of death are pending.

Superior Court Judge Eric Lucas is retiring at end of year, after -- years on the bench. The former Mariner High School student was its first ASB president, went to Harvard Law School, and as an undergrad majored in creative writing. Photographed at Snohomish County Courthouse on Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020 in Everett, Washington.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Judge Eric Lucas, who broke barriers on bench, dies at 67

Lucas was the first Black judge elected to Snohomish County Superior Court.

Rebecca Haskins (Everett Police Department) 20210913
Missing Everett teenager located

Rebecca Haskins had last been seen the morning of Sept. 4. Police reported her found Wednesday.

Work related to improvements at the intersection of Highways 9 and 204 will close a road and reduce lanes in Lake Stevens through Oct. 1. (Washington State Department of Transportation)
Road disruptions starting around Highway 9 in Lake Stevens

Lane reductions and closures are part of the work to improve the intersection at Highways 9 and 204.

In this image taken provided by SpaceX, a capsule carrying four people parachutes into the Atlantic Ocean off the Florida coast, Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021. The all-amateur crew was the first to circle the world without a professional astronaut.  (SpaceX via AP)
Everett man returns safely to Earth after 3-day space orbit

The 4-person, all-amateur crew was the first to circle the world without a professional astronaut.

Sen. Keith Wagoner (R-Sedro Woolley) speaks against the effort to reduce prison populations during a Senate Republicans press conference Wednesday. (TVW)
GOP senators want prison closures, early release halted

They say the push to get people out of prisons will result in more crime and less public safety

Most Read