Vaccine Mandate Information
Updated: Oct 27, 2021
LA County COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate Update
Since the announcement of the vaccine mandate, your AFSCME negotiating team has been at the table with the County along with our partners from the Coalition for County Unions (CCU). Bargaining sessions have taken place several times per week since the mandate was passed. While the Counties position is that they have no obligation to bargain over the mandate itself, we have been negotiating over every other aspect related to the mandate’s implementation. Items such as a possible testing option, the inclusion of antibody testing in the policy, data security, a fair and robust exemption and appeal process and most notably, preventing corrective action for non-compliance.
Deadlock Reached in Vaccine Negotiations
Earlier this month, in conjunction with our CCU partners, we sent notice to the County that we are declaring impasse. An impasse signals a deadlock in negotiations. We reached impasse after the County refused to accept our proposals and key parts of the policy including disciplinary action for non-compliance. A mediator has been selected and our first session will likely be at the end of October or start of November. Please see attached document regarding impasse.
Corrective Action for Non-Compliance
While the policy does include disciplinary action for non-compliance, at this time, Departments have NOT begun issuing Notices of Vaccination Requirements to employees who are non-compliant. The Notice of Vaccination Requirement starts that timeline on potential discipline. So, in the immediate future, we do not see disciplinary action being taken. However, this is subject to change at any time. The best way to avoid potential disciplinary action is to get vaccinated or seek an exemption. If any of our members face corrective action, we will be available to represent you.
Several departments including DMH and DHS have sent out communications that employees not in compliance with the policy may be reassigned. This is being done to adhere to the state heath order and to reduce the risk of COVID transmission in the workplace. Regarding DHS, we are working on getting additional information as to the nature of the reassignments. For DMH, reassignments may consist of additional telework, (paid) ordered absence, and, in rare instances, transfer. Per our MOU, 10-day notice will be provided in event of transfers. While we encourage individuals to reach out directly to determine if a reassignment could be grieved, in this situation, reassignments are a preferred option to corrective action for non-compliance and do not constitute a violation of our MOU.
If you are not in compliance with the vaccination mandate and you choose to request a religious and/or medical exemption, we encourage you to submit the required documents. We can assist you with the exemption process and represent you in meetings with management on this topic. At this stage, Departments have started to accept exemptions and acknowledge receipt. However, exemptions have not started to be processed. All exemptions will be reviewed through a centralized system within the Department of Human Resources to ensure consistency across the County. Do not be alarmed if you have not gotten a response to your exemption request aside from acknowledgement of receipt. There may be a slight delay in getting all exemptions processed. You will not be penalized for delay on the Counties end.
Employees who are not in compliance will be required to undergo regular COVID-19 testing. Testing will be on County time and on the County dime. If you are having difficulties regarding testing, please do reach out.
Vaccine Mandate, Testing, Reassignments and Discrimination
We have gotten questions regarding whether various actions the County is taking relating to the vaccine mandate are discriminatory. We can’t provide a broad answer here because these types of situations need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. For those who are seeking additional information on this topic, we encourage you review the What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws compiled by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
Union Representation on the Vaccine Mandate
No matter what your view is on the COVID-19 vaccine or vaccine mandate, your Union will advise and represent you. You have the right to representation through the exemption process and should the mandate lead to any corrective action. If you have questions that were not addressed in this email please feel free to reach out.