A King County Superior Court judge upheld a mandate issued by the Port of Seattle for all Port employees to be vaccinated by Nov. 15 as a condition of employment.
Judge Samuel Chung denied the motion for a preliminary injunction against the mandate that was brought forth by two unions representing Port employees in a lawsuit last month.
“The pandemic continues to be one of the unvaccinated,” said Steve Metruck, the Port’s executive director, in an email to Port employees on Friday. “… I want everyone to stay safe, healthy … and remain here at the Port.”
So far, 90% of Port employees have been fully vaccinated, according to a Port spokesperson. The other 10% have until 5 p.m. Monday to prove they are vaccinated. They can also submit an exemption request for medical or religious reasons, or request an extension demonstrating they have received at least one dose and intend to receive a second, the spokesperson said.
Unvaccinated employees can take a leave of absence beginning Tuesday until they become fully vaccinated or receive a response to their exemption request. Those employees who do not receive an exemption and remain unvaccinated will be let go from the Port, the Port spokesperson said.
The two unions that filed the lawsuit, International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 117 and 763, represent approximately 225 employees, including police officers and bus drivers.
“We are disappointed that the Port has put our members in a position of having to choose between maintaining their careers or doing something that violates their conscience or risks their health,” the two unions said in a joint statement.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, unvaccinated people are more than six times more likely to test positive for the coronavirus, and more than 11 times more likely to die from the disease. An analysis earlier this summer showed that most deaths in the United States because of COVID-19 were among unvaccinated people.
In October, a Thurston County Superior Court judge also denied a motion for a primary injunction brought by state troopers, corrections officers and ferry workers against Gov. Jay Inslee’s vaccine mandate for state workers. That lawsuit was not connected to the case against the Port of Seattle.