Hey, there! Log in / Register

Boston firefighters union might sue to block mandatory Covid-19 vaccination unless it gets something in return

The president of Boston Firefighters Local 718 says the union is willing to fight any city policy requiring employees to get Covid-19 shots - unless the city gives members some form of compensation.

Acting Mayor Kim Janey has yet to formally propose a mandatory shot policy, but in an e-mail to union members Friday night, John Soares writes he and other union officials won't be caught unawares if she does:

The issue of mandatory vaccination is complex, and it may ultimately need to be resolved in a court of law if it cannot be decided at the bargaining table. Either way, we feel that mandating our members to be vaccinated is a change in working conditions and violates the terms and conditions of our employment. Furthermore, we respect and support our members' individual choices whether or not to get vaccinated based on their religious beliefs and personal medical history.

Soares added that because Janey has yet to move towards a vaccination requirement, union leaders and their attorney have been talking about it because of a move by New York City to require its municipal employees to show proof of vaccination.

Local 718 will remain engaged with Commissioner Dempsey, our attorney, and fellow city unions to ensure that any vaccination mandate or policy change that impacts not only our membership but the 18,000 City of Boston employees can and will be addressed. To date, we have not received any formal notification or invitation to discuss this matter from Mayor Janey's Administration. Hopefully, more information becomes available, and we reach a resolution that is acceptable to all parties involved.

Neighborhoods: 
Topics: 
AttachmentSize
PDF icon Complete Soares e-mail message35.31 KB

Ad:
Like the job UHub is doing? Consider a contribution. Thanks!

Comments

Two hours off, with pay, for each shot. That's it. Period.

up
Voting closed 137

Heres my offer. You get nothing! firefighter in Bostons base is 91k a year with all sorts of PTO and other perks. Make the vaccine a condition of employment. Period! its not a bargaining tool in upcoming contracts! Get the vaccine or step aside. We will fill those vacancies guys don't worry about it.

up
Voting closed 100

NOT GETTING COVID-19.

Especially since they are interacting with members of the public, so less likely to spread it, too.

up
Voting closed 87

According to the CDC's last updated report (August 6th, 2021): https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7031e2.htm

Among the 469 cases in Massachusetts residents, 346 (74%) occurred in persons who were fully vaccinated

Among five COVID-19 patients who were hospitalized, four were fully vaccinated

74% of the COVID cases are among people fully vaccinated, and 80% of the hospitalized for were fully vaccinated.

up
Voting closed 34

In a state with high vaccination rates, in a world where no vaccine is 100% effective and with a virus that mutates quite rapidly, yes, you're going to see people with vaccination cards making up a larger percentage of the people who test positive.

That would be a bad thing if the vaccines didn't work at all and we were back to last spring or last winter's ICU-filling pandemic.

But we're not. In fact, deaths remain low (I think it was 2 deaths yesterday and 2 deaths the day before).

On Thursday, I wrote about us exceeding 1,000 daily Covid-19 cases for the first time since May 6. No, not good. But consider: On May 6, the state reported 469 people hospitalized with the virus, 137 in an ICU and 87 on ventilators, compared to Aug. 4, for which the state reported 264 people hospitalized with the virus, 55 in an ICU and 19 on ventilators (source).

So as a public-health measure, the vaccines are working. And they would be even more effective if more people got their shots.

up
Voting closed 110

The CDC MMWR is fantastic but you are looking at a single outbreak case study.

Unless, of course, you are trying to tell me that in the US there's only been 5 people hospitalized for COVID and magically 4 of them were fully vaccinated.

And how many people visit PTown in the month of July? High tens to low hundreds of thousands?

up
Voting closed 25

Boston firefighters are the most highest payed city of Boston employee’s payed by the poor taxpayers which include the elderly who pay real estate taxes on their Boston neighborhood homes, the out of state tourist renting a car at Logan airport who is paying a city of Boston consession fee and many other tax paying fee’s on a long list, 75% of these firefighters are white and live in the South shore!! None of which contribute to the tax base to the city of Boston.

up
Voting closed 14

Give ‘em a $5 DD gift card too!

up
Voting closed 27

would only be fair, as some people have stronger side effects than others. A number of employers have provided for this, and it seems very appropriate.

up
Voting closed 13

There are impacts to this. Possible side effects from the shots is a big impact.

up
Voting closed 11

Every other person who got the vaccine and had side effects had to take time based on whatever their employer's policy is. I'm sure BFD get plenty of sick time if they ever catch a sniffle, so let them use that time. They don't need extra.

up
Voting closed 9

I think it's a great idea, and that other employers should also have this policy.

up
Voting closed 9

This reminds me of a few years ago when they were using some mandatory drug testing rule to negotiate a significant boost in their pay. This demonstrates once again that with BFD, safety is the #2 priority.

On a full time basis these guys average around $150k a year + lavish benefits, and for the most part it's not a lot of heavy lifting involved. So much entitlement at BFD and yet it's never enough.

https://www3.bostonglobe.com/ideas/2013/09/07/plenty-firefighters-but-wh...

up
Voting closed 89

It was even worse than that. The reason mandatory drug testing was pushed for by the city was because a Boston firefighter was battling a blaze and died...and it turned out he was high as a kite.

So, to recap, while the firefighter sadly died, he could've killed others and was high whole working. And the city STILL paid out full death benefits to his family & had a parade as though he died a hero. And the union still demanded something in exchange to have other firefighters randomly drug tested.

up
Voting closed 56

Well, sometimes they do heavy lifting...

... but only when they're out on disability.

up
Voting closed 25

What they get in return is protection from a deadly virus. Stop acting like cops and do the right thing.

up
Voting closed 134

Don’t drag the cops into this one. Most were vaccinated when the vaccine it was first offered.

up
Voting closed 17

When BPD is required to get shots, there will be similar tantrums.

Firefighters got their shots a long time ago, too.

up
Voting closed 43

Firefighters will blaze the way, and the police will follow merely asking for "parity".

up
Voting closed 14

that a similar percentage of firefighters also got vaccinated already? I haven't see any suggestion that their numbers are lower than any other population in the state.

up
Voting closed 14

[citation needed]

up
Voting closed 11

This shit is pure Ron DeLord, whose "just so" stories are oft cited by a certain supposed former cop who posts here as if they are fact.

Even the king of arrogant cop scare and smear tactics and intimidation and harassment of local officials is aware that it isn't working like it used to: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/10/us/police-unions.html

up
Voting closed 18

Yeah, it's called not getting Covid-19

up
Voting closed 65

But is this the hill to die on for workers rights?

It's an odd one too, yes I understand the "non-contractual employment oblations" angle but I am sincerely hoping that a significant majority of these employees have already, voluntarily gotten vaccinated.

There is a difference between an employer suddenly mandating an 80 hour work week of employees who used to work only 40, and an employer mandating a vaccination that will protect all employees and those they serve, for which a majority of employees have freely and voluntarily already received. Or, I suppose, if employees were only expected to work 40 hours but for some reason a majority of them give an extra 40 hours of labor each week then the employer was like "well okay, you are all going on the schedule for all of the time you seem to be working"

To push this a little further, if the city makes a deal with the union, is any member who already voluntarily received the vaccine a picket line crossing scab who must be ejected from the union?

up
Voting closed 30

stopped being about solidarity in the name of universal "workers' rights" a long, long time ago.

you'd do well not to expect that from them.

those of us who are in legitimate labor unions or part of broader labor movements and who have some sense of history and solidarity don't take police and fire unions seriously, because they usually end up doing just this, being selfish (on top of harboring corrupt, abusive racists).

up
Voting closed 61

re: this comment:
"There is a difference between an employer suddenly mandating an 80 hour work week of employees who used to work only 40, and an employer mandating a vaccination that will protect all employees and those they serve, for which a majority of employees have freely and voluntarily already received."

When it comes to the bosses you NEVER give them an inch. I don't really think this is about getting vaccinated or forcing it. It's about letting them violate the language of the contract. If you do it for "this one thing this one time" the door is now cracked open, and that is always dangerous for the workers.

up
Voting closed 25

What did you and other taxpayers receive from their union or employer when getting vaccinated?

Yeah. That. Don't ever forget who their bosses are.

up
Voting closed 20

I believe that different things can be different and not everything is the same, and not all inches are equal.

From the union's own statement:

Furthermore, we respect and support our members' individual choices whether or not to get vaccinated based on their religious beliefs and personal medical history.

You know, they are still responding to a policy that does not exist. Fine, we will mandate it and allow for legitimate exemptions, sounds like you guys agree with that!

Unions represent all of their members, but sometimes there are differences in opinion within large groups, so ultimately a majority opinion within the governance rules is going to have to make decisions. So, where does the majority of the members stand?

My employer recently mandated vaccination, and at least 75% of the workforce had attested to that before the policy was set. Am I supposed to be upset with my boss for telling me I had to do something that I already willingly and voluntarily did, which is also something I believe my colleagues should all be doing to better protect all of us at work.

up
Voting closed 13

The union needs to justify their existence so they dig their heels in for even the tiniest of things. It's in the union staff's best interest to drag everything out as long as possible. But that doesn't serve the union members or the public. Is this the hill you want to blow your union dues on?

I hope they have vaccine clinics at every police and fire station.

up
Voting closed 9

They already get the time to receive a vaccine and the get to take the next day off in case they're feeling queezy which I guarantee they take as well. Nothing wrong with that, it's their obligation to get vaccinated not just as citizens and city workers but also as first responders who will invariably come into close physical contact with others.

What their union demonstrates by making this a negotiable item is a clear capitulation of leadership and responsibility towards their members. The fact that they themselves didn't mandate 100% vaccinations back in February when they became eligible shows the complete disregard that they have for their fellow union members. They don't care about the safety and well being of the membership, they just want another bargaining chip for when it comes time to negotiate their next round of fleecing, and by announcing their strategy to the world they've proven that. We're just a cash cow to them and they'll do whatever it takes, including placing the city at risk, until they get their way.

What we need is strong political leadership in this city, a mayor and city council who is determined to right the ship while in office and not careerist who use time and position in office as a stepping stone to the next gig.

up
Voting closed 41

It would be both fair and logistically sound to give them two days to recouperate.

But I'm betting most got their shots at Fenway and Foxboro before most of the rest of us, as they were eligible in the earliest groups. When I got the tour there in late January when I had to step in and courier some vaccines (I was not eligible and did not get vaccinated then - I had to go through the whole shitshow like everyone else later on) it was a steady stream of first responders, including BFD. This is just a tantrum.

up
Voting closed 20

Yes, wouldn't want to interfere with their off duty employment or business interests.

up
Voting closed 9

What we want is to stop sending fire department to respond to calls that don't need them, like swimmers in natural bodies of water and medical emergencies. This would save money and naturally lead to a lower budget. BFD would still be fully funded to respond to fires, and would in fact be in a better position to do so than they are today because firefighters and other resources wouldn't be tied up dealing with situations that don't need them.

Once these efficiencies are achieved, they won't even need a union and will be fully immunized like the rest of the City Hall workers.

up
Voting closed 10

And you might also look into why this is done before waving your magic whatever?

HINT: medical emergency services are not considered essential services by the fed, and don't get the funding from external sources that firefighters do. The firefighter/emt hybrid is the response to that.

Please tell us what you are planning to do to change that. Asking for 100s of US cities.

up
Voting closed 18

Are you suggesting that I do some research or even just think before calling to defund a city agency?

up
Voting closed 21

...suggesting that since you're not from Boston, you consider shutting your pie hole once in a while about city administration.

up
Voting closed 14

but unironically

up
Voting closed 8

"Never do anything for free" is pretty standard practice for this union; It comes across as obnoxious and somewhat cynical, but as negotiating positions go it's not way out there in crazy land.

up
Voting closed 19

That he is in a kerfuffle over.

"not to get vaccinated based on their religious beliefs and personal medical history."

Seems like asking for that verbage to be in the official order should suffice. As far as any other compensation - forget it. None of the rest of the community gets compensated.

I have seen other depts on the news concerned about breakthru virus and how to prevent it. The concerns were about impossibility of wearing masks, closeness of sleeping quarters, treating people in close proximity. Theses folks were proactively looking for ways to may some change.

BFD needs to get in step with their brothers from other communities.

up
Voting closed 12

PD and firefighters already feed their greed with details. Yes, even firefighters are given a Detail trough to slurp.

When is a firefighter detail required? From the City website: "It is required as a condition of a permit."

What services are provided:

The same services already provided by firefighters. In other words no additional services. But additional money paid to them. What a job? Getting paid for twice for doing what a person already does. Hot dog.

Much of City of Boston government is good. This one piece is bad, very bad. It is greed. Pure greed.

Now they want to be paid for the privilege of receiving protection from a terrible disease? Are Boston firefighters paid to visit their doctor? What the rest of pay to do?

Are firefighters paid to receive booster shots against tetanus? Tetanus is easily contracted when dealing with old buildings. While they deserve to be inoculated against tetanus as a privilege of their occupation, to demand more money for receiving an inoculation that protects them? Man, that is pure GREED.

up
Voting closed 16

That message from the BFD Union rep Soares must have been the most disingenuous double-speak I've ever read...

While it was carefully worded to come of as 'Us Firefighters care and will do everything we can to prevent the spread of this virus...' it could easily just have stated 'Yeah, we'll claw our way over the backs of those suffering from this pandemic just to make claim for a few more bucks...'.

How truly disgraceful of the BFD union and any... ANY firefighter who doesn't speak up against this tactic. Really, if the BFD doesn't backpedal on this then I don't ever want to hear about them being heroes again or how risky their jobs are...

Good people don't do things like this - only pieces of shit do...

up
Voting closed 25