Good day to one and all,
As everyone may or may not be aware, President Biden signed an executive order on September 9, 2021, requiring Coronavirus Disease 2019 Vaccinations. This is one of those days that everyone will likely remember for the rest of their lives. Based on the current dialogue in our homes, our workplace, and across our nation regarding COVID-19, it is not a big stretch to say this day did not make it easy for any organization, company, or Union.
I have personally heard from many you and know that the local stewards in your offices have listened to and passed on your thoughts and concerns to either myself or the National Officer collective. We hear your concerns and your thoughts.
Whether you agree or disagree with the Coronavirus-2019 Vaccination mandate, I want to point out that I have received many comments on why the vaccine should be mandatory and I have heard why the vaccine should not be mandatory.
We may not all agree with the correct course of action to stop the COVID-19 pandemic, but we can promise you this: your health, safety, and liberties will always remain our top priority. For that reason, we highly encourage our members to follow all CDC guidance on mitigating the spread of COVID-19.
As with all Executive Orders, they limit the available processes for Federal Labor Unions, such as ours, to undo, bypass, or negotiate over. But where we can negotiate, we will negotiate. The Union’s power of negotiation, as well as addressing any due process for impacted employees, stem from our CBA.
NFFE Local 1998 is exploring all opportunities in bargaining to include exemptions so that the concerns expressed by our members are brought forth to the table. We understand that this may not be satisfying to all our members, but we must work with the tools available, and we are working tirelessly to support every member equally, regardless of opinions on the COVID-19 vaccine.
NFFE1998’s promise to each of you:
- We will continue to represent our members and defend you if Passport Services violates our CBA;
- We will bargain to eliminate barriers to vaccination, such as providing non-measurable time to receive vaccinations and ensuring time off to recover from potential side effects;
- We will work to ensure that medical and religious exemptions are accommodated;
- We will work to ensure bargaining unit employees have ample time to comply; and
- We will ensure that due process is followed fairly and equitably for all Bargaining Unit Employees.
Key Information and Dates:
Employees should request exemptions through the Department of Reasonable Accommodation as soon as possible to have the best shot at getting approved before the deadline. Exceptions may be granted through the reasonable accommodation process if vaccination is not possible because of a medical condition/disability or because of a sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance.
To meet the deadline for full vaccination, employees must have their first shot on this schedule:
- Pfizer by Oct 18th
- Moderna by Oct 11th
- J&J by Nov 8th
In closing, I want to remind everyone that our strength, richness, and success comes from the effort, participation, and contributions of our members. We welcome your vigor to address this issue and value any tangible resolutions/solutions you can provide to the problems at hand.
We would like to thank everyone who has stepped forward both to show support for this Executive Order and those who show their opposition. It is these discussions and our willingness to accept differing opinions that make this Union and Country wonderful. We continue to welcome any and all comments and questions, but we ask that you limit the emails to the National Officers and your local stewards.
A union is only as strong as its membership. We will continue to fight tooth and nail for all BUEs. It is times like these that it is more apparent than ever that we are stronger together than separate. We must stand united and lift up the voices of those that are normally tread upon. As the Boss Bruce Springsteen has said “Unions have been the only powerful and effective voice working people have ever had in the history of this country.”