Monday, September 20, 2021
SEBAC had its third meeting with representatives from the Lamont Administration to bargain the impacts of the recent Executive Orders concerning mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations of state employees. For employees not working in state hospitals or long-term care facilities, that mandate includes the ability to refuse the vaccine if the employee submits to weekly COVID testing.
The parties reached an agreement on some of the issues and we expect to have formal written language tomorrow covering those issues. SEBAC will continue to negotiate, and if necessary, arbitrate the remaining issues that are still in dispute.
The following is a summary of the outcome of negotiations so far (please note this applies to all teleworking employees as you could be called into the worksite at any time for a particular operational need):
Submitting proof of vaccine or test results: You can submit proof of vaccine or test results on the COVID Navigator App (directions found HERE) Or you may send documentation via fax to 860-678-5229 or 860-678-5207 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org. This documentation will remain confidential.
Exemptions: If you have a medical or religious exemption from the vaccine only (not the testing), there is no reason to file for an exemption unless you are in a long term care facility or a state hospital. You will simply be subject to the weekly testing. Those who work in a hospital/ long-term care setting seeking a medical or religious vaccine exemption have until September 27th to submit the exemption form. Remember that, if granted, such employees will then be subject to the testing requirements.
If you are seeking a medical or religious exemption from the testing requirement, you also have until September 27 to submit the exemption form. You can view the current Religious Exemption Form HERE and the Medical Exemption Form HERE for both vaccine and testing exemptions.
Type and cost of tests: All medically acceptable tests (nasal and saliva) are sufficient. Home tests are not currently permitted. The State will continue to offer onsite testing at worksites at mandatory testing locations where it is already being offered in accordance with current practice at those sites. They have also committed that they will resume such testing at the Judicial Detention Centers when a suitable contract has been arranged. For other locations, the parties have not reached agreement on who covers the cost of testing or whether testing will be on State time. For now, the State is requiring employees at other locations who opt out of vaccination to get tested on their own time and pay for the test if it is not covered by insurance — and they don’t expect the state’s insurance to cover it — or is received at a free testing site. The State has told us free testing locations can be found HERE. The State has committed that while those sites may request insurance information, they will not bill members for any amounts not covered by insurance. The Coalition has continued to press for adequate statewide access to free or employer paid testing sites on state paid time, and these issues will likely have to be arbitrated. If the arbitrator agrees with the Coalition, members would be made whole back to the September 27th implementation date.
Failure to comply: Employees who fail to comply with the testing mandate will not be disciplined but will not be allowed to work or be paid. The parties have agreed that these employees remain in good standing with the state pending either the ending of the vaccine/testing mandate or their compliance, but we have not reached agreement yet on further details.
You can review SEBAC’s initial statement that outlines the relevant executive orders in detail HERE, our September 9th update HERE, and our September 16 update HERE. The text to current EOs can also be found HERE for EO-13F and HERE for EO-13G.