Agencies in Washington state have begun sending separation notices to employees who have not yet shown evidence that they have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
Licensing Department spokesman Nathan Olson told The Seattle Times that it had sent 66 separation letters Friday to workers who have not yet presented proof of vaccination or applied for a vaccine exemption. Department of Labor and Industry spokesman Matt Ross told the Times that his agency sent 140 letters on Saturday and planned to send more on Monday.
Other larger agencies, such as the Washington State Patrol, the Department of Corrections, and the Department of Social and Health Services, are also trying to establish which of their employees have not yet been vaccinated.
The Department of Corrections said it had previously sent about 1,000 preliminary notices to workers to confirm whether they had been vaccinated. The agency has about 8,600 employees who run the state’s 12 prisons.
Spokesman Jack Coe told the Times that most department employees who received these initial notices were represented by a union and would therefore go through an investigational process before a formal notice of separation could be sent.
The separation notice comes after Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) mandated in August that all state workers, onsite contractors and volunteers must receive one of three COVID-19 vaccines by October 18, or be terminated. needed.
The requirement also applies to employees in higher education, childcare, K-12 education workers, and most healthcare workers working in private health care and long-term care settings, as well as telecommuting state employees. Inslee later updated the measure to include an expansion of the statewide mask mandate to all individuals regardless of vaccination status.
Inslee said at the time that employees who refused vaccinations would be subject to non-disciplinary dismissal for “failing to meet job qualifications.” Employees with valid medical or religious exceptions will not be subject to dismissal. The mandate is being implemented to prevent business and school lockdowns, Inslee said.
The employee vaccine mandate is one of the strictest across the United States and has been heavily criticized by opponents, including a group of about 90 Washington state soldiers, firefighters and other employees who filed suit against Inslee last month which claimed that his mandate had been exceeded. violated his right to office and the rights of state workers guaranteed by the state constitution.
Other state and local governments have allowed employees to choose weekly COVID-19 tests as an alternative to vaccinations.
Governor Inslee’s order affects about 60,000 state workers in Washington state, but when asked by the Times about the possibility of losing workers, Inslee’s spokeswoman Tara Lee said that “the warning notices are just that, the warnings.”
“This is a snapshot in time and what the final number will be,” Lee said. “We expect more state workers to choose to get vaccinated and remain in the workforce.”
The spokesperson also said that the Department of Corrections and other agencies have worked out contingency plans to ensure that government services continue to function normally.
This News Originally From – The Epoch Times