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Updates Regarding Regular Testing Alternative to Mandatory Vaccinations in LA County

SEIU 721 strongly encourages all members to get vaccinated to protect themselves and their families from COVID-19. At the same time, LA County’s Bargaining Policy Committee has strongly advocated for a robust, regular testing option for those members who have yet to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.

On September 9, the County of Los Angeles formally rejected the union proposal and insisted that the mandatory vaccine proposal will be implemented without significant changes.

SEIU 721 will continue to negotiate over the effects and impacts of the policy, but unless we can get the County to change its position, the only accommodations made will be for employees with Religious Objections or Qualifying Medical Reasons.

SEIU 721 Member Connection is available to answer questions and address concerns regarding vaccination mandates. Please contact 877-721-4968 for assistance.

Negotiations are continuing with the next session scheduled for September 16. The union is focused on several key demands:

Move the Deadline for Full Vaccination

The County does not consider an employee to be “fully vaccinated” until two weeks after the final shot. Since it can take five weeks or more to receive a two-shot vaccine regimen, the October 1 deadline for full vaccination is not reasonable and must be moved. No County employee should be held accountable to an unreasonable deadline.

Provide Testing and Vaccination on County Time and at No Cost to the Employee

All testing, vaccination, and recovery from any side effects must be on County time at no cost to the employee with mileage reimbursement. Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (SPSL) should be used for time off, but any employee who has exhausted SPSL (which expires on September 30) should be provided with comparable paid leave.

Adopt a Non-Punitive Approach to Corrective Action for Non-Compliance

Any corrective action policy must provide sufficient time and notice for compliance, as well as warnings, education, and unpaid leave options – rather than discipline – for those who are out of compliance. Any disciplinary action must cease and be stricken from an employee’s record once the employee has taken steps to come into compliance.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why doesn’t the Union challenge the vaccine mandate in the courts?

State and federal law are clear that employers have the right to require employees to get the COVID vaccine. Two Supreme Court cases give state and local authorities the right to mandate vaccinations. In 1905, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Jacobson vs. Massachusetts that local health authorities could require adults to receive the smallpox vaccine. In a 1922 case, Zucht v. King, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the city of San Antonio could exclude students from public and private schools who were not vaccinated for smallpox.

More recently, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commissionhave both issued guidance making it clear that employer vaccine mandates are legal. The only major court ruling to date upheld Houston Methodist Hospital’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Does the mandate apply to me if I am on a leave of absence?

Yes, when you return from your leave of absence, you will be required to submit proof of vaccination.

Is the County offering accommodations for medical conditions or religious beliefs?

Yes, the County is offering accommodations for both medical conditions and religious beliefs.

How do I apply for a medical or religious accommodation?

To apply for a medical or religious accommodation you must complete the County’s Medical or Religious Exemption Request Form and submit it to your Department HR Manager.

What documentation do I need to receive a religious accommodation?

Employees must complete the Religious Accommodation Request form and submit it to Department HR. Although it is not required, employees may also provide the County with additional information such as articles from religious scholars, excerpts from religious or sacred texts, or statements from potential witnesses who may have knowledge about the nature of your religious belief or practice.

What is a qualified medical reason for an accommodation?

Please consult with your healthcare provider to determine whether you have a medical reason that qualifies you to receive an accommodation. Ask your provider to complete the Healthcare Provider Statement form.

What can I do if my request for accommodation is denied?

If your request is denied, you can request a reconsideration of the determination by submitting the Request for Reconsideration form to the Department of Human Resources within ten (10) business days. Reconsideration request forms can be emailed to DHR at reconsideration@hr.lacounty.gov.

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