Hey, there! Log in / Register

Appeals-court justice continues ban on Boston vaccine mandate for city workers

A Massachusetts Appeals Court justice today extended her ban on the Wu administration's efforts to make city workers get Covid-19 shots by threatening their jobs, saying the requirement would cause the workers and their unions "irreparable harm" and that the city's public-health claims are overblown since most city workers are already vaccinated.

The ruling, by Justice Sabita Singh, means that, unless it is overturned, firefighters, detectives and police superior officers who don't want to get a shot can stay on the job pending the outcome of their suit over the requirement, which could take months, if not years, to go through the court system.

Here, the harm to the city and the public interest caused by the city's inability to enforce the vaccine mandate policy as to the unions, during the pendency of litigation, is quite limited. The city would be unable to require approximately 450 employees (the remaining unvaccinated union members) to show proof of vaccination, but it would be able to require them, pursuant to the existing agreements, to test regularly to minimize the risk that employees infected with the virus would interact in the workplace and with the public. Thus, the city retains the ability to effect public health measures to minimize the spread of the virus.

In an agreement signed by the city and the Boston Teachers Union, the city agreed to a testing option for the vaccine-averse once citywide Covid-19 numbers decrease below benchmarks set by the city - but with twice weekly testing, instead of the once weekly testing agreed to last year by the then Janey administration for all city employees. And the agreement would let the city lay off workers who do not get shots during "high" Covid-19 rates of the sort the city was still reporting last week.

Singh wrote that while the city could take steps short of effectively firing employees who refuse to get shots to protect public health, the harm that would be caused to the specific employees and in more general terms to the collective bargaining rights of the unions and their members would just be too high, rejecting an argument by Suffolk Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Locke, who had ruled the city could go ahead with its mandate on public-health grounds in part because the workers could always sue later.

The unions had argued that Wu's mandate violated their collective-bargaining rights because it was a change in working conditions that was announced at a press conference rather than negotiated with the unions.

Singh wrote:

Money damages do not adequately compensate the loss of individual self-determination of employees and of the unions' inability to meaningfully protect their interests. The unions have established a substantial risk of irreparable harm.

Neighborhoods: 
Topics: 
Free tagging: 
AttachmentSize
PDF icon Complete ruling72.24 KB

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

Comments

Very good win for the unions

up
Voting closed 62

Money damages do not adequately compensate the loss of individual self-determination of employees and of the unions' inability to meaningfully protect their interests.

We’re talking about public safety employees leaving themselves and others vulnerable to what’s now a largely preventable disease. They skip getting vaccinated, we’re at higher risk of getting infected by them and paying for their health and life benefits when they get sick and die unnecessarily.

What a tragedy. What’s this magical “self-determination” and what whole cloth did this judge make it from?

If you’re thinking “gee where did this hack of a judge come from?” don’t over-think it — Romney and Baker.

up
Voting closed 53

] Relying on the January 10, 2022 Affidavit of Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, M.D., M.P.H., ¶13, the city argues that allowing employees to get tested regularly rather than vaccinated is "insufficient" to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Yet Dr. Ojikutu acknowledges that those who are vaccinated can also contract and transmit the virus. See id. at ¶¶15-16. Despite this, the city's vaccine mandate policy does not require vaccinated employees to do any testing to ensure that they are negative for the virus. Thus, it appears that neither vaccination nor regular testing is a fail-safe method to prevent transmission.

up
Voting closed 43

The principle of self-determination is, from a theoretical point of view, quite simple: in fact it means that the individual, as a person who owns a fundamental right of freedom, shall be able to determine itself in any choices that do not involve damage to others, and that the state cannot interfere with the exercise of that freedom.

up
Voting closed 30

I mean, your argument negates itself:

the individual, as a person who owns a fundamental right of freedom, shall be able to determine itself in any choices that do not involve damage to others

That's the whole point: Requiring vaccination is not just for the individual but for the community as a whole: The more people who are vaccinated, the fewer circulating viruses to infect people who are left - or for whom the vaccines just don't work.

I realize that a lot of people these days just don't give a shit about anybody else, but until the Supreme Court overturns Jacobson v. Massachusetts, government can, in fact, consider the greater good when enacting public-health requirements in a pandemic, sucks for all the strong He-Men out there, but if you don't like it, you can move to some failed state where there is no government.

Today's ruling does NOT go against Jacobson v. Massachusetts. The judge makes a point she can issue her ruling because most city employees are now vaccinated and so there are other ways to protect the public health without trampling on collective-bargaining rights. Whether she's right from a public-health perspective, I can't say, I'm not a doctor or public-health expert, but this ruling is not the libertarian wet dream you seem to think.

up
Voting closed 68

I think the mayor should be able to do whatever she wants, without regard to anything, including agreements with unions (and let's be clear, there shouldn't be unions at all, right?) or even the law itself.

And if you ask me, whoever gets elected governor in November should just get rid of every single judge, from the district court right up to the SJC, so that every decision will reflect not the law or precedent, but whatever our elected officials at the time want to do.

/s

up
Voting closed 39

In the public sector? Absolutely (expletive) not.

up
Voting closed 19

No one is throwing out the entire concept of judicial review, you numbskull, they're just disagreeing with the decision made by this particular judge. Maybe try at least addressing the argument that the person you're replying to is actually making?

up
Voting closed 13

emac, on the other hand, noted

If you’re thinking “gee where did this hack of a judge come from?” don’t over-think it — Romney and Baker.

The judge decided as the judge decided. That's how an independent judiciary works. She is beholden neither to Wu nor the unions, and certainly not to the junior Senator from the great State of Utah. She looked at the facts and made a ruling. If I were to mention times when I thought courts made decisions that were wrong, there'd be plenty of folks ready to jump down my throat for that.

up
Voting closed 21

Yeah, ad hominem attacks on judges are cheap, including mine. I thought twice about the Romney and Baker comment, then still made it. I’m too frustrated and tired to buy the claim in 2022 — as Trump-nominated Supreme Court justices throw out precedent and make up arguments out of whole cloth to limit access to safe abortions, to voting and to OSHA rules — that judges are just out here “looking at the facts and making a ruling.”

But anyways, since we’re here Waquiot, kudos on your collective bargaining arguments winning the day. You’ve been beating that drum hard and, lo and behold, the union-backed antivaxxers have won their right to get sick and die on the public payroll.

up
Voting closed 18

Look at Baker’s appointments to the SJC and then compare him to Trump - likely some of the most progressive picks in the court’s history. It may be make you feel good to compare any Republican to Trump but Baker and Romney have been two of the most outspoken Trump critics (I’m not particularly a fan of either).
Yes, they are republicans and one can always find an issue that falls in line with the RNC’s position but to invoke Trump on a municipal collective bargaining injunction is lazy at best. She didn’t order that second graders be handed AR-15’s at recess or ban abortions, she ruled that the city can’t go back on a previously signed agreement.

up
Voting closed 16

I'm just the guy who pointed out the arguments that were being made by the unions. That said, I'll now make the less than original point that the Chief Justice declaring the Affordable Care Act constitutional proves that judges aren't accountable to whoever appoints them. When we are down to the level of Massachusetts Appeals Court, I'm fairly certain that with a case like this, the judge looked at the facts presented.

up
Voting closed 10

Grow a pair, Wu, and do to these unions what Reagan did to the air traffic controllers. Or just invent alternate reasons to fire the unvaxxed ones.

Of course, she's dependent on a police force to guard her wealth and property, so we'll just get hemming and hawing instead.

up
Voting closed 16

You don’t have to post everything that comes into your mind , fyi

up
Voting closed 56

Gaffin would have put a chastity belt around my IP circa 2009 if I did that.

Back to your hole, anon trash.

up
Voting closed 20

Didn't the air traffic controllers go on strike? How is this comparable?

up
Voting closed 15

Was that Reagan gave zero (expletives), and got rid of a bunch of recalcitrant pricks who didn't want to play ball.

Wasn't good for the workers, or for air travel, but maybe this time, we finally learn a lesson about the place of work in our society. I doubt that we will. Our society somehow got stupider with two years of increased free time for thought.

up
Voting closed 10

you say something I agree with, then you come along with this, and yeah, not today.

invent alternate reasons to fire

And for your Reagan comparison to hold any water, these unions would need to go on strike first. They have not done that.

I have no issue saying that I see no prudent reason, other than some that are already provided for with exemptions, for someone to decide not get vaccinated. But fabricating cause to fire someone? If you don't have a lawful reason to terminate an employee, making shit up to do so isn't acceptable to me, ever. If you want to get rid of them that strongly, find legitimate cause to do so, that's fair. Lying is not.

up
Voting closed 17

I said "invent cause." Make "They misspelled a word on a police report" cause, then can them when they do it.

up
Voting closed 8

Inventions are things that are created, and in the context of intangibles, inventions have the connotation of being fabricated. If you'd like to "find" real existing cause, by all means go for it.

I'll be the first to admit I can be rather pedantic at times, but when it comes to legal decisions, exactness is key. I shoulda been a lawyer. I guess there's still time for that, but not today.

up
Voting closed 15

But I have a gross aversion to classroom learning owing to 13 years of public education before anyone figured out how to deal with a smart kid who just stops caring once seventh grade hits because his Asperger's wasn't properly identified and reconciled.

up
Voting closed 10

Being pro or anti vax was not the major issue. The issue was that of collective bargaining and signed agreements - the city signed a contract and then broke it when the new administration came in.

up
Voting closed 54

Pandemic takes order of priority

up
Voting closed 24

They are welcome to move to a state that doesn’t mandate vaccines, are they not ?

up
Voting closed 14

One of the things that makes Massachusetts distinct from, oh, Alabama, is that we recognize the right to collective bargaining.

The justice weighed those rights against the rights of the public as a whole to be protected against the pandemic and concluded Boston has done a good enough job with vaccination that we don't have to infringe on the rights to collective bargaining, at least, not any more (I mean, look at the similar cases involving state troopers and prison guards, who lost).

But it will be interesting to see if the city appeals the ruling to the entire Massachusetts Appeals Court or the SJC.

up
Voting closed 27

Whatever you think about the mandate (and there was already a vax-or-test mandate bargained, in place, and working) -- this has to be seen as a risky and probably bad choice by Wu. She starts her term by punching the public safety unions in the nose and losing the fight. That doesn't bode well for a whole host of issues, notably police reform.

up
Voting closed 42

What kind of reform we are talking about? All electric BPD cruisers for the mayor's motorcade?

up
Voting closed 16

The public face of the “public safety” union is pasty losers yelling about Hitler on a street in Roslindale. You think the “Hitler’s birthday!” crowd earned any sympathy here showing their whole ass every morning?

up
Voting closed 30

Since you brought it up, Hitler's birthday next comes up in 4 days 2 months 0 years, not that it has anything to do with the price of T in Chinatown.

up
Voting closed 6

Wu won the election for mayor by a landslide and the voting public has given her a broad mandate for all of her plans so I don't think this is anything to worry about. If she makes some mistakes in 2024 then maybe she should worry, but she's good for now.

up
Voting closed 12

saying the requirement would cause the workers and their unions "irreparable harm"

What harm?

So this judge has decided that EMS people's lives are more important than the sick and the elderly they serve?

If it was me, I'd say "go find another job if you don't like it". No excuse for this.

I'm having a real hard time swallowing this today along with towns removing vaccine and mask mandates. Especially as I sit here in a 62 degree condo because I have a 100+ degree fever, watching steam rise from my body cuz I'm sweating bullets & coughing up a storm.. thanks to Omricon.

Yeah I got a real hard time swallowing this stuff today....

up
Voting closed 37

Covid sucks so very much. Not the sickest I’ve ever been but it definitely made the top 10 - and i’m vaxxed and boosted. Now 12 days out from my first positive test and feeling much better but still not ‘well’. Luckily, I never spiked a fever and I only felt truly dangerously sick for a few days.

Anyone deliberately shunning protection from this disease for themselves or others is a complete moron.

best, chillest thoughts for a rapid and full recovery to you, cybah

up
Voting closed 22

Millions of people have had it. Hopefully you’re ok. As for this argument, you shouldn’t be forced to put something in your body if you don’t want to. It’s that simple. The vaccine isn’t a cure all.

up
Voting closed 30

As for this argument, you shouldn’t be forced to put something in your body if you don’t want to. It’s that simple.

Does that count as well for virus spread by people who refuse to get vaccinated and won't wear a mask?

(I guess, technically, it's other people putting it in your body...)

up
Voting closed 17

But it does dramatically reduce your chance of getting severely ill, ending up in the hospital and dying. Matter of fact for the “open up!” crowd it’s the single-biggest tool available to enable safe resumption of pre-covid activities, preventing millions of hospitalizations and hundreds of thousands of deaths — but sure, fine, it’s not a “cure all.”

And “shouldn’t be forced to put something in your body?” Fine, don’t. Quit your job as a public school teacher, EMS, fire fighter, police officer or other city employee, you have no god-given right to that either.

up
Voting closed 25