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Union members urged to share concerns on vaccine mandates

(Aug. 31, 2021) — Ever since the vaccines for the prevention of coronavirus were authorized for emergency use several months ago, the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO has been urging union members to get educated and get vaccinated. Although the vast majority of union members in Washington have done so, the WSLC is also aware that some union members have understandable reasons for remaining hesitant about getting these shots.

Now vaccine mandates are being imposed in both the public and private sectors. As the commercial media focuses on anti-vaccine protesters, some assume that anyone who has yet to be vaccinated at this point has based their decision on misinformation about the vaccines’ safety and effectiveness, or the politicization of vaccination.

However, the WSLC’s affiliated unions are reporting that some unvaccinated members have understandable concerns for not doing so and other members who have been vaccinated also have concerns about how potential mandate layoffs will effect their ability to do their jobs and provide services.

TAKE A STAND — If you are a union member who remains unvaccinated or has concerns about employer vaccine mandates, we need to hear from you. Please fill out this quick form indicating your concerns. The WSLC is encouraging members who fill out this form to provide their names and contact information so we can seek your permission to share your stories as unions continue to negotiate the effects of employer mandates.

Here are just a few examples of members’ concerns that the WSLC has heard indirectly:

●  Medical reasons for not getting vaccinated, or sincerely held religious beliefs, but are concerned they could face termination anyway due to a subjective process for these exemptions.

●  Can’t afford to take time off work for vaccination or to recover from potential short-term side effects or don’t want to use precious paid sick leave to do so.

●  Distrust or skepticism about the healthcare system because of past experiences and costs, particularly for Black, Indigenous and people of color because of this country’s history of healthcare experimentation and unequal outcomes in their communities.

As unions are negotiating the effects of vaccine mandates on their members and the services they provide, now is the time to share these concerns publicly.

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