Thursday, September 23, 2021
The parties now have a formal written agreement covering those EO-13G issues upon which they do agree, and identifying some of the issues still being disputed. We had noted this on Monday when SEBAC and the Lamont Administration reached a conceptual agreement on some of the issues relating to the impacts of the recent Executive Order 13G concerning mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for certain state employees (Note: 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.) There are a number of issues upon which the parties remain in disagreement and which may be decided by a neutral arbitrator.
The Agreement applies only to those covered by EO-13G. The executive order does not apply to Judicial, Criminal Justice, or Public Defenders who are bargaining with respect to policies set by their employers which are patterned on EO-13G. Nor does the order apply to unclassified professional Higher Education units that reached separate agreements. So none of those bargaining units are directly affected by the signed agreement.
You can find a copy of the Agreement by clicking here. As outlined in the Agreement, there are many outstanding issues. SEBAC will continue to negotiate, and if necessary, arbitrate the remaining issues that are still in dispute.
Since our last update, we have clarified the following:
-The State has agreed that the state health insurance plan will cover the first four COVID tests at 100% for those sites not already providing free coverage. The State had previously provided the list of Free State Sponsored Testing Sites for all additional Covid tests which can be found HERE.
-The State now agrees that employees can use sick time, as well as personal leave time, vacation time, or other accruals to cover work time lost to get tested. The parties are still in dispute about whether employees can use state time to get tested outside of mandatory testing facilities,
-Due to implementation issues, the governor’s office sent an email today indicating that it is not clear when the testing or vaccine mandate will be fully operational. As such, all employees should report to work on Monday unless directed otherwise.
-The Agreement provides that employees may choose to submit proof of vaccine and testing via a dedicated fax number/email address as well as on the Wellspark app. Instructions can be found HERE. As had previously been agreed, all medically acceptable tests (nasal and saliva) are sufficient. Home tests are not currently allowed.
A number of issues remain unresolved.
Such issues include whether outside of mandatory testing facilities, testing should be paid for by the State and on State time, the exact nature of the consequence for not complying with the executive order, and whether there should be a cash incentive associated with being vaccinated. For additional information, you can find a summary of the outcome of negotiations thus far in our September 20 update (found HERE).