City Negotiating With Employee Groups About Vaccine Mandate

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San Diego City administrators are working toward an all-city employ vaccination mandate, but not all city workers are thrilled about it.

By Friday, Aug. 13, San Diego employees will have to report their vaccination status. It’s a step behind a mandate, but some employees feel the mandate is around the corner.

“I’ve read and skimmed through a few emails but I haven't really had any deep discussions about it,” Public Utilities Department employee Melissa Reyes said.

Right now, both federal and state employees are under orders to show proof of vaccination or undergo regular COVID-19 testing. The California Department of Public Health issued an order last week requiring most health care workers to be fully vaccinated by Sept. 30, extending exemptions only to those who qualify for medical or religious reasons.

Reyes said she wears a mask to protect herself and others, but when it comes to mandatory vaccinations, “I'm mixed about it.”

“I see that they want to keep everyone safe, but at the same time there are people that want to be able to choose. It’s a fine line," she said.

Currently San Diego city workers that are not vaccinated are required to wear a mask on the job. Treasury Department employee Trevor Kelley thinks it’s working.

“I feel like the rules that are in place, that they are required to be masked up, I feel like they do a good enough job,” Kelley said. “That they are trying to limit the risk of spreading it." 

In a statement sent to NBC 7 Monday evening, Nick Serrano, Deputy Chief of Staff for Mayor Todd Gloria, wrote the following:

“The city is currently in negotiations with our employee groups about mandating vaccines. Our priority remains protecting the health, safety and well-being of our city employees and San Diegans alike.”      

Kelley agrees there’s a thin line between safety and freedom of choice.

“I don’t entirely know how legal that is, so I am not really sure. I can see why they want to, but I can also see why someone wouldn't want to be vaccinated,” he said.

Kelley said only about a third of his department is working from the office now. It seemed apparent at end of day Monday afternoon that the other 17 departments in this building have a similar work flow.

Still to be determined in this risk equation is how many will work from here, work from home or have direct contact with the public.

NBC 7 reached out to the San Diego Municipal Employee Association about the vaccination negotiations and had not heard back by 11 p.m. Monday.

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