Oregon Department of Transportation employees are expressing concerns as the deadline for state employees approaches to get vaccinated.
Agency officials have learned that some employees have protested Gov. Kate Brown’s vaccination mandate by calling in sick – or planning to do so, according to Angela Beers Seydel, head of public information at the Department of Human Rights. transport. Brown issued an executive order in mid-August requiring COVID-19 vaccines for K-12 educators, healthcare workers and all state employees. These employees have until October 18 to get vaccinated or they could be made redundant.
“We have heard employees across the state voicing concerns about the COVID-19 vaccination requirement in a variety of ways,” said Beers Seydel. “We also had employees who shared their appreciation of the requirement.
The agency doesn’t care why people call for work. Beers Seydel said the agency was able to complete all scheduled road maintenance services over the past week.
Beers Seydel said the transportation department has a wide range of health and safety requirements in place to protect employees. She added that the vaccine will help the agency keep employees, partners and others in Oregon safe.
Brown’s mandate allows for medical or religious exceptions.
A number of state employees have sued Brown over the demand, including nine Oregon State Police soldiers and more than two dozen state firefighters.
Ben Morris, communications director for SEIU 503, the Oregon public services and caregivers union, said he was not aware of any union members protesting the mandate by not surrendering at work. However, he added, employees could face disciplinary action if they do.
Morris said the union is currently negotiating with the state over the vaccine mandate. If no agreement can be reached, the law allows unions to give notice and vote to authorize a strike, he said.
“Our union has not taken any such action,” Morris said. “In fact, we are confident that we will soon reach an agreement with the state.”
Friction between employees and employers over vaccinations is expected to increase in the coming weeks.
President Joe Biden announced new vaccine requirements on Thursday that could affect up to 100 million American workers. The rule requires vaccines for all healthcare workers and federal contractors, as well as workplaces with more than 100 employees. If workers refuse vaccinations, they will have to undergo weekly tests.