|LOCAL UNION NEWS
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Can an employer mandate that employees get vaccinated?
Yes, subject to collective bargaining. Federal law allows for mandatory vaccinations.
If an employee declines to be vaccinated, can the employer require the employee be tested for COVID-19?
Yes, subject to collective bargaining. Federal law allows for COVID-19 testing in the workplace. In Oregon, the new administrative rule will also permit COVID-19 testing in the workplace.
What options are available if an employee gets sick after being vaccinated?
An employee should look to file a worker’s compensation claim, seek any COVID leave available through their employer, and, if needed, look to use their sick leave banks.
Do employees have medical privacy rights when an employer requires proof of vaccination?
Proof of vaccination provided by the employee is medical information that must be kept confidential by the employer under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Unless the employer is a “covered entity” (e.g., health plans, healthcare provider), the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) does not apply.
Don’t employees have a constitutional right to refuse COVID-19 vaccination?
No. The Supreme Court of the United States has upheld compulsory vaccination laws. Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11 (1905).
If an employer has a mandatory vaccination program, must it provide reasonable accommodations to employees on religious or disability grounds?
Yes, if the employee meets certain legal thresholds for establishing a religious belief or disability. Simply stating in a conclusory fashion that “my religious beliefs” or “my medical condition” gives me a pass from being vaccinated is insufficient under the law. Further, once that legal threshold is met, a public employer’s accommodation need only be “reasonable;” the employee is not entitled to his/her preferred accommodation. That means that a public employer could, for example, reassign an employee to a different position and/or require the employee to wear a mask. And a public employee who refuses those reasonable accommodations is subject to termination. E.g., Horvath v. City of Leander, 946 F.3d 787, 792 (5th Cir. 2020).
The vaccines have only emergency use approval from the FDA. Aren’t there FDA statutes on emergency approval that forbid mandatory vaccination programs in the workplace?
No. A recent federal court decision indicates that the emergency use status of COVID-19 vaccinations under FDA statutes does not preclude mandatory vaccination programs at work. Bridges v. Houston Methodist Hospital, Case No. 21-CV-01774 (S.D. Tex. 2021).
Highlights from Labor Representative Brent Jensen:
Ratified 3-year CBA with Lake Health District. Opened negotiations with Klamath 9-1-1 District on behalf of emergency telecommunicators. Ratified 1-year CBA with City of Talent on behalf of Public Works and city hall employees. Ratified 1-year CBA with City of Talent on behalf of police department employees. Ratified 1-year CBA with City of Phoenix on behalf of public works and city hall employees.
Ratified 1-year CBA with City of Phoenix on behalf of police department employees. Phoenix and Talent suffered substantial losses during the Almeda Fire last September and parties felt one-year agreements were appropriate in-light of uncertain financial conditions facing each city.
Highlights from Labor Representative Dave Tully:
Members at Mt. Hood Insurance have ratified a new 2-year successor agreement. This insurance company may very well be the only fully unionized insurance office in the Northwest. Please contact any of the staff at Mt. Hood for your insurance needs. They can be reached at 503-808-1111 or email@example.com. Surveys from the members have been received by our office for Fred Meyer negotiations. A union proposal meeting with the membership is now being set to obtain any further feedback. Dates for negotiations have been tentatively set with the employer. Contract surveys will be going out to our Canteen Vending Services members soon. Please fill them out and return to your shop steward or send them in to the Local Union office. We need your feedback to obtain a successor agreement.
As we turn the corner toward September, we are to be going back to our monthly membership meetings. With this new strain of the virus (Delta) and the CDC and OHA recommendations, we may have to conduct those meetings via Zoom at this time. Please call the Local union if you wish to participate. With that, I urge all of our members to please get the Covid vaccination to not only save your life, but to protect all others. This is a very serious pandemic in this country and our Union members and employers are being greatly affected. We need to get this virus behind us and move this great country and economy of ours forward.
Highlights from Labor Representative Michael Mann:
Successor agreements were reached for the Douglas Road/Fleet/Solid Waste group, the Coos Road group and the Lebanon Police Group. Thanks to all of the bargaining team members for their hard work! All bargaining unit members in each group will receive cost-of-living increases each year, sworn officers and sergeants at Lebanon will receive additional market adjustment increases and employer contributions for health coverage remained stable or increased.
An agreement was reached with Douglas County to pay employees who work at a particularly busy solid waste site a 10% premium on a per-hour basis. An agreement was reached with the Corvallis police group regarding a change to their Workers’ Compensation process and an agreement is being discussed at the McMinnville police group to allow members to work-back after retirement. A grievance by the Coos deputies’ group regarding seniority was resolved after discussions with the employer. Rep. Mann and the stewards at Yamhill County Sheriffs’ Office met with the sheriff to address some outstanding issues and we are looking forward to the soon-to-happen “360-degree agency review.” Douglas County Steward Dana Coffin left employment with the County; we appreciate her hard work as a steward and will be looking for a replacement steward in the Solid Waste Division.
Teamsters Training from Local 223 Rep Michael Mann – According to Labor Attorney Will Aitchison (during a law enforcement labor webinar on May 13), the single-greatest risk point for members’ employment is what they are posing on social media and on-line; there is no special provision for speech because it is on social media! Be careful what you post – comments/postings that could negatively impact the employers’ interests may lead to discipline!
Highlights from Labor Representative Karine Trowbridge:
As the rise in new COVID cases continues I am working through continued or new accommodations for our members throughout my groups. Washington County, Clean Water Services, City of Gresham, City of Fairview, City of Molalla, Tillamook Sheriff’s and Tillamook 911 continue to be focused on the safety of our members. Local 223 secured 1-year extensions with the City of Gresham, City of Fairview, and CWS. We are in the process of holding membership Zoom meetings to inform all members of the passing of these extensions and hold regular membership meetings at the same time. Most of the members are really liking the Zoom forum for quick membership meetings at lunchtime. Recently we asked the City of Gresham to do a long-awaited market study on our police records specialists. When that was complete the City discovered that the Police Records Specialists II were eligible for a 1 step pay increase. Tillamook Sheriff’s negotiations are under way and progress is being made. Most of the housekeeping and non-economic proposals are done. We move into economics the end of this month. National Red Cross negotiations are finally underway. We are at the last stage of Ground Rules and in-person bargaining is set to begin in early September. However, with COVID ruling the day the “in-person” part of negotiations could change. Either way, the unions are prepared to move forward.
WITHDRAWAL CARD INFORMATION
Please remember to contact the Local Union to see if you are eligible for a withdrawal card if you do not work any days in the bargaining unit during the current calendar month. Your dues must be paid current at the time of your request for the withdrawal card. It is very important to request a withdrawal card in a timely manner as dues can accrue until a withdrawal card is requested. If you return to bargaining unit work, please contact the Local Union to deposit your withdrawal card and return to “active” member status with the Local Union.
ADDRESS CHANGE: Please call us with any address changes. Thank You!
T-SHIRTS, JACKETS, AND HATS
T-SHIRTS, JACKETS, AND HATS are available to buy from the office of Local 223. The 100% cotton T-Shirts come in navy, black or ash starting at $8. We offer two styles of jackets: navy satin baseball (sizes L - 3XL); or the black poplin (sizes S - 3XL). The hats are $7.50 and come in solid navy or solid black and two tone, khaki & black or khaki & navy.