Below are the most recent updates on impact bargaining over the recent CMS vaccine regulation.
Following the Federal Government’s recent announcement of an emergency regulation which mandated vaccination for members in certain bargaining unit positions, our union issued a demand to bargain with the Commonwealth. What this does is give us the ability to negotiate over aspects of the impact this regulation will have at the workplace. While this does not give us the ability to prevent the implementation of the regulation, it does give us a chance to have influence over its impact.
We’ve held our initial session of impact bargaining and will continue to negotiate with the Commonwealth in the coming days. At this time, we are aware that members in the State Mental Hospitals and State Centers, DMVA veteran homes, and DOH state health centers will be immediately impacted by this CMS regulation.
There are two phases to the regulation. In Phase 1, all staff must receive their first dose of the vaccine (or the only dose for J&J) no later than 30 days from the date the regulation was published, which would be December 6, 2021. Phase two requires staff to be fully vaccinated within 60 days from the date the regulation is published, which is January 4, 2022. There is no option for testing in this mandate and thus the opportunity for exemptions are likely to be severely limited in scope if available at all.
This means that vaccinated workers in impacted positions should provide proof of their vaccination no later than December 6th. If you are unvaccinated and work in one of the impacted facilities, you will need to receive your first dose of the vaccine by December 6th.
While there may be legal challenges that arise, even if successful they are unlikely to impact the public sector positions that we represent. In order to most effectively protect your ability to maintain your employment, we strongly urge you to provide proof of vaccination or get vaccinated if you’re in an impacted position by the December 6th deadline.
Recently, following impact bargaining over the Commonwealth’s recent vaccinate-or-test policy, we negotiated a vaccination incentive where all members are able to receive six days of paid leave, five of which may eventually be paid out. This incentive remains in effect through the end of the year. We highly encourage members to take advantage of this incentive while it’s available. While we will do our utmost to mitigate the impact of this regulation through bargaining we do not expect broad economic incentives like we recently won to be achieved again.
If you have any questions, please route them through your work unit’s shop steward to be sent to your work committee chair so we can address as much as possible when meeting with your employer. We will share additional updates via email and the website as they become available.
Vaccine Incentive Side Letter: https://www.seiu668.org/news/commonwealth-covid-leave-agreement/