As COVID-19 cases surge due to the spread of the deadly Delta variant, SEIU 721 strongly encourages all members to protect themselves and their families by getting vaccinated, masking up in shared spaces, and continuing to practice social distancing.
At the same time, we will continue to vigorously defend our members’ rights at work, including negotiating over the effects or impacts of vaccination mandates from employers and state and local governments.
All employees in California who work at healthcare facilities are covered by a state order that requires vaccination by September 30, 2021. The only exceptions are for those with exemptions for Religious Beliefs or Qualified Medical Reasons determined by the employer. Those unvaccinated employees who work at healthcare facilities, homeless shelters, or correctional and detention centers are also required to undergo frequent COVID testing between now and September 30.
As these are state orders, only the effects and impacts of the orders are negotiable, not the orders themselves. SEIU 721 is invoking our right to negotiate on the effects of the orders – such as how the testing and vaccination orders will be implemented, and how the County will act in response to employees who are not in compliance with a state order.
Here, below, is a rundown of the orders that impact SEIU 721 members in Los Angeles County, and how the union plans to respond at the bargaining table:
California Department of Public Health Order
FREQUENT TESTING for Employees who work at Healthcare Facilities, Homeless Shelters, or Correctional and Detention Centers
On July 26, 2021, the California Department of Public Health issued a “Healthcare Workers Protections in High-Risk Settings” order which requires that unvaccinated workers in healthcare facilities, homeless shelters or correctional and detention centers must undergo frequent COVID testing – twice weekly for those in acute healthcare facilities, once per week for all others. This order went into effect on August 23, 2021.
This is a state mandate and not subject to negotiation. However, SEIU 721 has invoked our right to negotiate over the effects of the order and will propose that testing must be on County time at no cost to the employee, with providers and at locations of the employee’s choice. It is our understanding that the Department of Health Services plans to set up testing kiosks at hospitals and will send mobile testing vans to other health care and correctional facilities.
California Department of Public Health Order
MANDATORY VACCINES for Workers at Healthcare and Correctional Health Facilities
On August 5, 2021, the California Department of Public Health issued a “Healthcare Worker Vaccination Requirement” that mandates that workers at healthcare and correctional health facilities must be vaccinated against COVID-19. Under the order, all such workers must have their first dose of a one-dose regimen or their second dose of a two-dose regimen by September 30, 2021. The only exceptions are for those with exemptions based on Religious Beliefs or Qualified Medical Reasons determined by the employer.
Like the July 26, 2021 order, this is a state mandate. The policy itself is not subject to negotiation. However, SEIU 721 has invoked our right to negotiate over the effects of the order. We will propose that vaccines be offered at no cost to the employee, at locations and with providers of the employee’s choice. We will propose that employees be allowed to get vaccinated on County time with mileage reimbursement and that paid leave time will be provided if the employee is experiencing any side effects. And we will propose a corrective action policy that provides sufficient time and notice for compliance, as well as warnings, education based discipline, and unpaid leave options – rather than discipline – for those who are out of compliance.
Los Angeles County Order
MANDATORY VACCINES for ALL Other LA County Employees
On August 10, 2021, the LA County Board of Supervisors directed the CEO to develop a policy requiring all County employees to be fully vaccinated by October 1, 2021.
Like the state orders, the effects of this County policy are subject to negotiation. In addition to all the issues that are being negotiated about the state mandates (how testing and vaccination will be implemented, what actions the County will take in response to non-compliance, etc.), SEIU 721 will invoke our right to negotiate what kinds of exceptions will be made. We will propose that the County offer a frequent testing alternative for any employee who has yet to be vaccinated. If we are successful at securing such a modification of the County policy, it would not apply to healthcare workers who are bound by the state mandatory vaccine orders.