1 union supports state’s vaccine mandate, 2 others want to negotiate

COVID-19 vaccine
COVID-19 vaccine
Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 6:07 AM EDT
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ALBANY, New York (WWNY) - Unions are reacting to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s announcement that all state employees need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or get tested weekly.

The governor also announced Wednesday that front-facing workers in state-owned hospitals must be vaccinated, with no option for weekly testing.

The Civil Service Employees Association says it supports the policy, while the Public Employees Federation and United University Professions say any changes in policy need to be negotiated.

“CSEA supports the Governor’s vaccine-or-test policy,” CSEA President Mary Sullivan said in a statement. “New York has come a long way in overcoming COVID-19 together and we cannot slide backwards now or we put our members, workers, our families, children and all of us at greater risk.”

She said the procedure is already being used in the SUNY system “and all that’s happening here is it is being expanded, which CSEA supports.”

PEF says while it recognizes the importance of vaccinations, but says any requirements need to be discussed between the state and the union before being rolled out.

“PEF encourages our members to be vaccinated,” President Wayne Spence said. “The vaccines are proven to prevent the deadly COVID virus, and they create a safer workplace. We agree with other unions that a vaccination mandate must be bargained between labor and management.”

“Because today’s directives from the governor – particularly mandatory vaccinations for our front-facing health care workers at SUNY’s public teaching hospitals in Brooklyn, Stony Brook and Syracuse – would change the terms and conditions of employment for our members, they must be negotiated with UUP before they are imposed,” UUP President Frederick Kowal said.

“UUP is willing to negotiate the implementation of the governor’s directives,” he said. “We look forward to meeting with and discussing these issues with state representatives.”

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