Seattle has reached tentative agreements with most of the labor unions that represent city employees on the city’s COVID-19 vaccination requirement and on pandemic pay, Mayor Jenny Durkan announced Friday.
The tentative agreements, which must still be approved by union members and the City Council, are with the Coalition of City Unions and with unions representing firefighters, electrical line workers and parking enforcement officers but not with the union that represents police officers.
In August, Durkan issued a directive requiring city employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 18.
The provisional agreement allows for some leeway for employees to go on paid or unpaid leave if they receive one vaccination dose by Oct. 18 and intend to be fully vaccinated by Dec. 2.
Under one tentative agreement announced Friday, employees who submit vaccination confirmation forms by Oct. 5 showing they’ll be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18 would receive eight hours of extra paid time off, Durkan’s office said.
As part of the deal, the unions have agreed with the city on processes for vaccination confirmations, exemptions, accommodations and separations, “with the goal to achieve employees being fully vaccinated,” the mayor’s office said.
A second tentative agreement would pay $1,750 to city employees who have worked in person during the pandemic, Durkan’s office said.
“A vaccination requirement and frontline worker pay is the right thing to do for our workforce,” the mayor said in a statement.
Shaun Van Eyk, co-chair of the Coalition of City Unions, said the tentative agreements honor Seattle’s essential workers and “create clear, transparent, and equitable pathways” with respect to the vaccination mandate.
Employees who were denied a medical or religious exemption or accommodation may avoid termination if they elect to get vaccinated or by potentially going on paid or unpaid leave or submitting to testing, social distancing and masking requirements on a job site until they are fully vaccinated.
The same would apply to employees who are granted an exemption but refuse the accommodation.
The agreement grants all employees 40 hours of “COVID-19 Supplementary Paid Leave” which can be used for quarantining, COVID-19 symptoms, vaccine side effects or if they are caring for a child who is sent home for COVID-19 related reasons. Employees who are fully vaccinated by Oct. 18 will also be granted an additional 40 hours of COVID-19 paid leave.
Unvaccinated workers can also retire by the end of the calendar year, rather than face termination, as long as they submit paperwork by Oct. 18. The employee’s department will decide whether the employee can continue to work or whether the employee must go on leave until Dec. 31.
Though the city began processing vaccination confirmation forms earlier this month, the mayor’s office has yet to release data on how many employees have submitted those forms and are vaccinated.
The city is negotiating separately with the Seattle Police Officers Guild and has yet to reach a tentative agreement on the vaccination requirement. Officials are still assessing a timeline for applying the vaccine requirement to contractors who report to a city work site or work closely with city employees.