San Diego Mandates Vaccines For City Employees, Still Negotiating With Unions
San Diego city employees will have to get vaccinated or potentially lose their jobs. City officials say this mandate comes with the pandemic not slowing down and the recent full approval of the Pfizer vaccine.
"I question the timing of it. We’re currently along with the other labor groups negotiating the fine points of this stuff — I think there’s a lot of negotiating left to do," said San Diego Police Officers Association President Jack Schaeffer.
Schaeffer said the city’s vaccination mandate for all employees is leaving some officers worried about their jobs. A city memo says being fully vaccinated will soon be a condition of employment, unlike the county of San Diego where unvaccinated employees need to be regularly tested for the virus.
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"If something is done that’s more punitive then let's say the county, I could see some of those people that have really big opposition to it up and leaving and going to another department and I don't want to see that happen — I don't think the city wants to see that happen," Schaeffer said.
The memo to city employees says they will need to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 2, 2021 and right now city officials are negotiating with labor unions to determine all the impacts of the policy.
"The city has made its intent clear — that this is no longer going to be an option," said AFSCME Local 127 President Rodney Fowler.
AFSCME Local 127 represents nearly 1,900 skilled trade workers. Fowler said many of them have questions about the mandate. He is encouraging those with concerns to speak with medical professionals, but also wants the city to help those unvaccinated get it done.
"Where they make it a seamless process for employees to go on city time to get vaccinated to take away some of the apprehension of vaccination," he said.
The memo to city employees said workers are granted up to two hours per dose while getting vaccinated.
"Teamsters 911 and the San Diego Lifeguards applaud Mayor Gloria’s dedication to public health, as reflected by the majority of our membership who have invested themselves," said Teamsters Local 911 Chief Steward Chris Vanos, the association represents all of the city's lifeguards. "Going forward, we will continue to meet and confer with the City to identify and address all potential impacts to our members ... We continue to encourage our members to get vaccinated to ensure public safety throughout all the communities of San Diego, and among our membership.”
Overall, a city spokesperson says of the total 11,360 city employees, 65% are fully vaccinated, while 12% are not. Nearly 2,000 workers either declined to state their status or did not respond to inquiries. After negotiations are done with labor reps, city officials said people can request a religious or medical exemption from the vaccines.