St. Paul firefighters sue city over vaccine mandate

2021-12-02 19:58:35 –

A union representing firefighters in St. Paul filed a proceeding Thursday against Mayor Melvin Carter’s order to have city employees vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the year.

In the mirroring of the discussion Complaints filed by the St. Paul Police Federation Last week, the fire union alleged that the city committed unfair labor practices “by failing to meet and negotiate in good faith” with the terms of the vaccine obligation.

of Announcement to about 4,000 employees in the city In late October, Carter said, unlike most other local governments in Minnesota, St. Paul would not provide an alternative to inspection for workers who chose not to be shot.

“COVID remains the leading cause of death for our firefighters,” Carter said in a statement Thursday. “In the ongoing uncertainty of this pandemic, we do everything we can to protect our urban workers and our community from this global public health crisis. continue.”

As of Thursday, Carter’s communications director, Peter Legget, said the city had received 168 requests for medical or religious exemptions, which the Human Resources Department handles on a case-by-case basis. rice field.

“We are not against vaccines,” said Mike Smith, president of the 430 union. “Currently, the city does not provide my members enough information to make their decision. The deadline is approaching and we have no answer.”

Approximately 80 firefighters seeking an exemption did not know if their request would be granted, Smith said.

“If you’re vaccinated with a two-shot vaccine, you’ll need to start about a week from tomorrow, but there’s still no answer to the exemption,” said Chris Wachtler, a lawyer representing the fire union. “It’s a big frustration.”

According to Legget, the city is working to process and complete the request before the deadline.

“Unless there is a court order, or until the court gives otherwise instructions, city workers will continue to pursue a vaccine policy that requires them to complete a series of vaccinations by 31 December 2021.” Said Mr. Legget in an email.

Employees who do not provide evidence of vaccination will not be able to work and may be subject to disciplinary action, he added.

Both fire unions and police unions are calling on judges in Ramsey County to issue temporary detention orders to protect members from losing their jobs while the proceedings continue. The proceedings allege that state labor law requires the city to negotiate a vaccine policy agreement or raise the issue with the arbitrator.

The complaint cites an ongoing case in Chicago, and the judge ruled that police officers could not enforce the vaccination deadline unless the matter was arbitrated.

A hearing on a request for a temporary detention order from the police union is scheduled for Thursday, and lawyers said the fire union proceedings could be dealt with at the same time.

Leaders of both unions have expressed concern about staffing levels if employees lose their jobs due to refusal to vaccinate.

“As a result, we may be required to work overtime. We may shut down the rig,” Smith said. “The city doesn’t have the answer either.”

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