Stamford Advocate

Lamont to ‘work with’ union seeking delay in vaccine mandate

- By Julia Bergman Hearst CTInsider Staff Writer Ken Dixon contribute­d to this report. julia.bergman@ hearstmedi­

Gov. Ned Lamont said he will “work on this together” with the state’s largest nursing home union, after the president of the bargaining unit asked for a 30-day delay in complying with the governor’s vaccine mandate.

Rob Baril, president of SEIU District 1199, which represents about 5,500 nursing home employees, sent a letter to Lamont Tuesday, in which he said Sept. 7 is too soon for a vaccine mandate that could lead to the firing of workers who don’t meet the deadline.

“Such an extension will allow all employers to comply with the governor’s order and gives the union and its members more time for outreach and education to the workforce and operators on this important matter,” Rob Baril, president of SEIU District 1199, said in the letter.

The governor said Tuesday he’d be open to sitting down with Baril but emphasized the urgency in getting health care workers vaccinated.

“If they need more time, more explanatio­n, we’ve got to work on this together,” the governor said after an event in New Haven. “It’s tough to just do this with a stick. I’ve got to convince people that it’s the right thing to do, but we’re going to get it done.”

The request, which Hearst CTInsider reported Monday, seeks a moratorium on the $20,000-per-day fine that nursing home companies face under Lamont’s executive order. All employees, volunteers and outside contractor­s in long-term care facilities with direct access to residents and patients must have received their first dose with an appointmen­t scheduled for a second dose.

Some companies will not be able to meet that requiremen­t in time, Baril said, forcing them to “either operate under critical shortstaff­ing conditions or to shut down operations altogether, which ultimately hurts residents and patients in need of care.”

Pedro Zayas, a spokesman for the union, declined Tuesday to say which employers won’t be able to comply in time. A spokesman for the statewide nursing home associatio­n said Monday the industry would be “very reluctant” to support a delay to the Sept. 7 deadline.

The request comes from one of the state’s largest unions, which has been a powerful and active supporter of Democrats, ahead of a likely re-election bid by Lamont, a Democrat.

Lamont’s pandemicre­lated emergency powers expire Sept. 30, raising questions about how the vaccine mandate would be enforced after that and whether Lamont even has authority to grant the union’s request. The governor has not said whether he plans to ask the General Assembly for another extension of his powers.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States