Sep 09, 2021

Baker Vaccine Mandate - Update

September 9 - NAGE sat down yesterday, September 8th, with HRD to resume bargaining over the mandate. Two of our main goals was to have HRD provide more information on the mandate, and to bargain over the proposed forms for filing for a religious or medical exemption from the vaccine requirement. Our legal team will be reviewing information provided by HRD and following up with questions. NAGE has made multiple requests for information surrounding the vaccine mandate, including the total number of members returned to “in office” work since August 1, 2021. NAGE continues to advocate for remote work, considering the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic. We have yet to receive the requested information and will continue to pursue this at our next bargaining session. NAGE is pursuing alternatives to the mandate, and for the deadline to be extended from October 17th.

At this time, HRD has not agreed to an extended deadline.

HRD reiterated that anyone not vaccinated on that date will be subject to discipline up to and including terminationNAGE will defend any disciplined member for declining to comply with the Governor’s Vaccination order. In most cases, a grievance will be filed on behalf of the disciplined or terminated member. However, we want all members to be aware that the grievance process can take up to a year or more to process for arbitration. 

We will continue to update you as the matter progresses.
As you know, NAGE strongly supports the efforts being made to get more individuals within our state vaccinated. However, we do not advocate for changes in the condition of employment.

NAGE filed a demand to bargain with the state regarding Governor Baker’s Executive Order issued on August 19th that all Executive Branch employees complete COVID vaccination by October 17, 2021, as a condition of employment. You can find a copy of the update with additional details linked HERE.

At our first bargaining session on August 25th, NAGE raised a series of questions about the Executive Order and vaccine mandate regarding the reasoning and the process to obtain a religious or medical exemption. Unfortunately, we have been given no real answers to our questions or proposed alternatives to date.

NAGE met earlier today, September 2nd, to resume bargaining with an expectation of gaining the information we requested.  It is clear at this point that the Baker Administration is stonewalling us and not “working with the unions,” as the Executive Order message indicated. 

NAGE vigorously advocated for other alternatives to vaccination for those objecting, such as masking/testing options, allowing employees to return to remote working, allowing leaves of absence as safe and healthy alternatives recommended by the CDC.  NAGE argued as precedent that the vaccine policies negotiated with other employers in the Commonwealth include these alternatives to vaccination for those objecting, plus incentives for individuals to be vaccinated. In addition, NAGE informed HRD that we petitioned the legislature to file House Bill 4443, linked HERE, to allow anyone facing termination for not complying with the vaccine mandate to obtain a leave of absence to protect their job.  NAGE again argued for this to be included as an alternative.  However, HRD has not acknowledged any indication or likelihood that these alternatives or options will be entertained. 

In short, NAGE was provided with little information and received no response to our request for information, questions, or proposals. The information we did obtain indicates that the Baker Administration plans to move forward with the Mandate.

NAGE has vigorously objected to the language in the Executive Order and the proposed policy that threatens discipline up to and including termination for employees not vaccinated by October 17th.  However, NAGE is obligated to inform and warn you that HRD has indicated that, as of today that they will follow the Executive Order and will proceed with disciplining anyone not vaccinated by October 17th, over NAGE’s strong objection. 

NAGE is meeting next Wednesday to resume bargaining in this matter.  We will continue to advocate zealously for alternatives, and NAGE will defend any disciplined member for declining to comply with the Governor’s Vaccination order. 

We will provide further updates in the coming days. 

The American Labor Movement has consistently demonstrated its devotion to the public interest. It is, and has been, good for all America. - John F. Kennedy
NAGE HEADQUARTERS 159 Burgin Parkway
Quincy, MA 02169
Main Phone: (617)376-0220
Main Fax: (617)984-5695
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