Jailers union to ‘go down swinging’
Appeals judge’s denial in vax mandate fight
The union representing correctional officers has vowed to “go down swinging” in its attempts to block Gov. Charlie Baker’s vaccine mandate and has appealed a federal judge’s “disappointing” denial of an injunction.
The organization said it’s preparing yet another lawsuit to fight the order.
“Said simply, Governor Baker’s administration can not make it up as they go without being challenged by this union; not when your religious and medical beliefs, your professional careers and your ability to provide for your families hangs in the balance,” the union wrote in an update to membership. “The (Massachusetts Correction Officers Federated Union) Executive Board will continue to hold this administration accountable for the unimaginable treatment you now have to endure, or we will go down swinging in the process.”
The union’s executive board said in the statement it feels “the case still has merit.”
More than 550 members are still awaiting a decision on their requests for medical or religious exemptions, the union said.
Exemptions to the vaccine mandate that went into effect on Sunday for more than 42,000 executive-branch workers are still being processed. Labor unions have described a process that has “strung along” workers and left them with “looming questions” about their employment status.
The Baker administration has said it would work through all exemption requests by the end of next week.
Still, the correction officers’ union said it is aware of at least three dozen cases so far of chief stewards being notified of disciplinary action for noncompliance with the mandate.
Baker’s mandate relies on a strategy of “progressive discipline” to compel compliance.
It starts with a five-day, unpaid suspension for all noncompliant workers. Continued noncompliance for managers “will then result in termination of employment,”
while bargaining unit members will first move on to a 10-day suspension, according to an online post.
As of Monday nearly 95% of the 42,518 executive-branch employees were in compliance with the mandate, according to the Baker administration.
Labor attempts to block the Republican governor’s vaccine mandate have been denied at the state and federal levels.
The Supreme Judicial Court last month denied an injunction request by the State Police Association
A notice of the appeal was not yet on file with Boston federal court on Thursday afternoon.
Recent court actions filed on Thursday gave both parties 60 days to respond to the denial.