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Boston delays punishment yet another week for unvaccinated employees, union says

The Boston firefighters union is telling members today that the city has given employees yet another week to show proof they've gotten at least one Covid-19 shot and will not start putting the unvaccinated on leave until at least Jan. 31.

Mayor Wu had initially announced a Jan. 15 deadline for city workers to show proof of vaccination, but then the Office of Labor Relations postponed that until tomorrow as the city continued to bargain with firefighter and police unions over the issue. In e-mail to members, Local 718 leadership wrote today:

Between January 23, 2022 and January 31, 2022, no employee will be disciplined nor placed on administrative leave and instead will be allowed an additional week to get into compliance.

In a ruling released Jan. 14, a Suffolk Superior Court judge cited public health and refused to order the city to let the unvaccinated stay on their posts. In his ruling, the judge said the firefighters and two police unions had a point that the city should not have simply abrogated agreements signed by then acting Mayor Janey to let workers show negative weekly Covid-19 tests in lieu of shots, but that they had not fully exhausted their administrative appeals process and that the city had proved that the rapid spread of the omicron variant made the agreement useless as a tool to halting the virus.

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Comments

And in the meantime, a lot more people will be sick, dead, or suffering the effects of long covid, because this mandate is a joke.

The mayor is very cavalier with other people's lives.

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Well done, tovarish.

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Credentials welcome, too.

Say ... tell me what you do for a living. I'm sure I could come up with some "opinions" about your area of expertise from an uneducated/untrained viewpoint such as you are doing here. Or, as I have threatened with my BIL "I'll come to your workshop and tell you what to torque everything to ... not because I know anything about it, but if you expect me to respect your uninformed and absolutist statements about epidemiology ...".

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You have been on a tear calling everyone out, letting them know that they are not qualified to offer an opinion on the pandemic because you are an epidemiologist and they are not. We have all received a crash course throughout the last two years on pandemics and it’s constantly in the public discussion. This is not a q-anon message board where people are advocating mainlining Clorox or praying for JFK JR to heal us from omicron. It’s not unreasonable for people to have opinions that may differ.

I will refer back to your multiple announcements that peoples opinions are not valid unless they are an expert in a specific field the next time you offer your opinion on traffic, politics, policing, social Justice issues, childhood behavior, the MBTA, bike lanes or any other topic that is being discussed.

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"This mandate is a joke", with nothing to support it, is a bullshit take, but it doesn't take a credentialed authority to say so.

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Now they think they can break down the Mayor, which beach time this has occurred is showing them they can win. The mayor needs to stop letting this group make the rules. Just keep the deadline.

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Vaccine mandates are not enforceable.

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I'll admit right up front: I'm not a lawyer, either. But I keep reading all these court decisions that say, yes, vaccine mandates are enforceable, at least by employers.

Don''t try bringing up the recent Supreme Court decision. The court ruled the federal government could not tell private employers to make workers get shots. They did NOT say that private employers themselves could not tell workers they have to get shots. In this case, Boston is acting as an employer. It's a bit more complicated when unions are involved (sucks to be a worker in a country that has at-will employment for the most part), but even in the most recent case involving Boston municipal employees, the judge rejected a request to make the city not enforce its mandate for public health reasons.

As for the other mandate, yes, the city is not enforcing it against individuals trying to breathe all over everybody at restaurants. But food-serving licenses are the jurisdiction of the licensing board, which very much can punish restaurants that refuse to check IDs. There's a separate city agency that governs entertainment venues, such as movie theaters and sports venues. But guess what? The Mayor's Office of Consumer Affairs and Licensing is headed by the same person who chairs the licensing board.

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Maybe they can add just one more week after this ... and then a few more. Remember "15 days to slow the spread"?

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If it is such an emergency situation then how can the mayor delay implementation for 3 weeks? If she fails to implement then I feel like those employees who got vaccinated under threat of termination might have a strong suit against the city. Sounds like they involuntarily took medicine under duress. Anyone want to chime in on that?

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I thought that to win a suit you need to show some sort of harm. Vaccinated employees would have to show that the vaccine harmed them to even get anything going. Given that the city is following federal health guidelines, that hill is all that much harder to climb.

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Does anyone know what the vaccination rates for each union are? I heard the BTU is the lowest and that they may end up being exempted from this mandate but I can’t find the data anywhere.

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There's no consequences, like no consequences.

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Are waving the white flags to the unions and adopting a don't ask don't tell policy when it comes to mandatory vaccine shots.

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As a Boston taxpayer, PLEASE fire all fire, police & first responders who refuse vaccination immediately. We pay WAAAAY above the national average for these jobs (check out how many applicants we get each year). I'm tired of these fights just to make sure they aren't high or drunk on the job, don't lie about hours worked and--now--don't pose a literal health threat to those they are supposed to be helping.

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FTFY

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These people were hero’s at the start. Now they’re being vilified for not taking a fn shot.

Mind you, in MA we’ve have 350,000 breakthrough cases to date. I’m fully vaccinated with a booster but in hindsight it’s wasn’t needed. I’m 31 and healthy, the vaccine provided some protection, but my age and health provided more.

Vaccinated people can get an spread COVID, let not forget that.

This is 100% political and unnecessary.

Can we all start acting like rational adults? Probably not!

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And on the whole they are far less severe and far less likely to lead to intubation and death than cases among the unvaccinated. The vaccinated also generate far few viruses and are infectious for a shorter period of time.

So, yes, vaccines do work. If you're really interested, I can point you to studies on this.

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"These people were hero’s at the start. Now they’re being vilified for not taking a fn shot."

I completely disagree. If simply putting on a uniform makes you a 'hero' then there are A LOT more heroes out there (teachers, nurses, doctors...etc). To me, part of being a hero is putting the needs of your community ahead of yourself first. I'm not a cop, firefighter, or first responder yet I recognized that getting the shot helps me AND my community. If selfish public service workers can't see that, then too bad. Their job isn't some lifetime guarantee. You honestly want an unvaccinated firefighter coming to help an elderly person, yet ends up giving them covid that could be fatal to someone of that age? Seriously?

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You can praise people for doing the right thing and also condemn them for doing the wrong thing. That would be a rational way of thinking.

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Now that they're not, they're no longer heroes. Pretty easy!

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And teachers?

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They will [incorrectly] argue that once the case loads drop below X it's proof the vaccine is not needed and to require it at that point would be retaliatory.

I'm pissed the city didn't require the shots as of Sept 1st if not sooner.

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when the rest of us non-public union employees call it being good citizens?

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For failing to do their part to protect themselves, their fellow workers and the public.

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The final FDA approval for Pfizer was August 23. Full vaccination takes 5 weeks.

Could have gone for mid-October, but there were details about medical exemptions and disciplinary process to work out.

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And other corporations from requiring at least the first shot by that date.

I don't think think the requirement constituents a change in working conditions which is the fundamental argument they are making.

Also worth noting that not all unions opposed the mandate. Some quickly worked out a revised agreement and others just accepted that the established grievance procedure would be suitable should there be a disagreement. Doesn't BPD/BFD already require other vaccinations?

I see the union objections to be 100% about looking for an avenue for which they can increase their pay or other benefits. You didn't hear about these objectors demanding the city provide better PPE or other provisions that would have actually reduced their risk. They just wanted "something in exchange" for the vaccination requirement.

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Is there a legal principle that an employer can't require a vaccine that only has Emergency Use Authorization rather than full approval?

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Because the FDA gave its full approval to the Pfizer vaccine back in August. It was in all the papers, and even a Web site or two.

Now, quick, tell us exactly what "emergency authorization" means. I suspect you have no clue.

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On September 1, Michelle Wu was not Mayor of Boston.

The mayor at the time was not a supporter of mandated vaccines, and she was very public about it. This is why, for the sake of public health and in an attempt to thread the line between encouragement and requirement, the city came up with the “regular tests unless vaccinated” policy, which was negotiated with the unions and put into effect.

Now, were Wu mayor on September 1, she theoretically could have mandated vaccinations (assuming quick successful negotiations with the unions, so theoretically). The policy as it stands is that employees need to get their shots by days x and y, not that they are to be fully vaccinated by day z.

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tl;dr

In the interest of "public health", we need a pay raise. 10% pay raise for all city employees!

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The firefighters, at least, aren't asking for a payraise. They just don't think their members should have to get shots if they don't want to (yes, yes, the formal argument is that Wu abrogated an agreement that Janey signed, but that again boils down to: Some firefighters don't want to get shots).

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… and they’ll take a yard.

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Cowbells must be having an effect.

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From a labor relations point of view, I definitely see the unions' perspective and understand their duty to the membership.

Conversely, those crackpots who have been making the greater Augustus Avenue area a living hell for the past few weeks should get nothing. Thankfully, the unions have been trying to distance themselves from that nonsense.

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At least you're finally admitting that this is indeed ultimately about "punishment".

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Whether that punishment is warranted.

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Regardless, the sudden newfound honesty is refreshing.

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Was it not understood that the negative consequence experienced by an individual for failing to abide by a rule was a punishment? In every situation imaginable?

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Regardless, the sudden newfound honesty is refreshing.

Adam, your response laid bare the nonsense in my half-baked attempt at snark.

I’ll just change a few words and hope no one notices.

keyboard cat.gif

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— LET’S MAKE A DEAL: Boston Mayor Michelle Wu is granting city workers an extra week to get vaccinated before they face repercussions. In the meantime, she "continues to have productive conversations with municipal unions" about the vaccine mandate, according to her office.

A person familiar with the discussions tells Playbook there's a deal in the works with the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association. The deal, per a draft obtained by POLITICO, could give officers in compliance with the mandate two mental health and wellness days and allow for rehiring those who resign over the mandate but then get vaccinated within a certain period of time. Wu’s office declined comment last night; she's expected to give an update on the mandate at 10 a.m.

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https://twitter.com/i/status/1485622553632718850

Mayor Wu leaves before 7am, which greatly angers the 4 mopes protesting at her home. Bad form for the mayor not to inform them of her schedule.

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Now, I didn't hear them this morning, so I assumed they moved on. Shame on me for thinking that.

But seriously, why bother with all this bullshit bothering the neighbors when the Mayor isn't even there? That's beyond pettiness and to the level of just plain assholery.

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