The Ann Arbor Police Union says the COVID vaccination mandate is “unnecessary and illegal”.

ANN ARBOR, MI – The Ann Arbor Police Union speaks out against a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city workers, calling it unnecessary and illegal.

“We as the Ann Arbor Police Officers Association hope that our employer, a public body, will not break the law to require a vaccine for the remaining members who choose not to have it,” the union said in one of its presidents Sean Stewart shared a statement on Wednesday October 6th.

“We as a union have exceeded the city’s original target of 70% vaccinations,” it said. “This has proven effective as we haven’t had a COVID-19 case since April 2021. We were also put to the test for four weeks in a row at the University of Michigan soccer stadium with more than 110,000 people a week. no positive cases so far. The mandate is not necessary and illegal. “

Acting city administrator John Fournier announced on August 26th that the city must have all employees vaccinated against COVID-19 by October 8th, otherwise a possible dismissal threatens.

In response to a new state law against COVID-19 vaccine mandates by public authorities, Fournier announced last week that the city will reset its vaccination deadline to November 1 while the city considers its legal options.

The new state ban “may not survive legal scrutiny,” Fournier said, telling city officials in an email that the city is still executing a vaccine mandate and that it “will be as strict as the city legally makes it.” can”.

Ann Arbor’s vaccination mandate will be “as strict as legally possible,” says the city administrator

Governor Gretchen Whitmer said public authorities can still require employees to be vaccinated as long as they are given the alternative to regular COVID-19 testing.

“We are still in a pandemic,” said Linh Song, a city council liaison with the Ann Arbor Police Oversight Commission, on Wednesday in response to police union opposition to the mandate.

“I hope we come to a solution where we understand that we are working in a community where we have medically vulnerable community members and where we have children under the age of 12 who have not yet been vaccinated,” she said. “These are not ideal working conditions, but I hope we can show some compassion and understanding for others now.”

The U.S. Pentagon, the Army, and the National Guard are among the many institutions with vaccine mandates, Song noted.

Councilor Travis Radina, D-3rd Ward, who serves on the city’s budget and labor committee, said the vast majority of Ann Arbor police officers have been vaccinated and are doing their part to keep the community healthy and safe.

“I am disappointed with the continued opposition from union leaders to bring this issue to the full vote of their members, who I believe would adequately ratify a provision of the vaccine mandate in their contract,” he said, calling this a responsible move to achieve more Trust in the police among residents, who appoint officials to protect their families.

Ann Arbor officials said they rejected the vaccination mandate on behalf of unvaccinated members of several unions, despite the majority being vaccinated.

More than 50% of the employees in each collective bargaining unit are vaccinated, said Fournier.

“I really appreciate what the staff did to get the vaccine,” he said. “Our overall vaccination rate in the city is over 75%. Some of our tariff units are 100% so I really appreciate what employees have done to protect their colleagues and keep the community as safe as possible during the pandemic. “

Ann Arbor News / MLive has requested the vaccination rate for each urban worker group and is awaiting the city’s response.

Fire chief Mike Kennedy said the fire department’s vaccination rate is currently around 80%.

There’s no segregation between vaccinated and unvaccinated employees at work, but everyone must wear a mask indoors in accordance with city policy, he said.

Kennedy said the city and the fire service union are still negotiating the vaccine mandate and he wants to respect the process by not commenting on it. There has been a very positive working relationship between workers and management throughout the pandemic, he said.

The city has offered incentives to vaccinate employees, said Fournier. For example, if they are vaccinated, they can collect bonus points in the city’s wellness program.

“If you achieve a certain number of wellness points, there are financial incentives in your health insurance company,” he said. “We also grant employees additional (emergency) sick leave and have therefore set up a kind of city-wide incentive program for employees.”

Whether that’s enough carrot, said Fournier, it’s a case-by-case basis.

“But what we’re doing largely works,” he said. “We have a vaccination rate of 75% and I’m really proud of that.”

The city has no rules that require the separation of unvaccinated employees from others, said Fournier.

“We have a mask mandate across town hall for all employees whether they are vaccinated or unvaccinated, but that’s because the transmission rate of the virus in Washtenaw County is so high right now,” he said.

Once the transmission rate drops to moderate or low levels, unvaccinated employees will still have to wear masks and vaccinated employees won’t, Fournier said.

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