The City of San Diego is now requiring all city employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 "as a condition of continued employment," it said Thursday in a letter sent to all city employees.
The city said in the letter, it is now requiring the vaccine due to the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis and in light of The Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) approval of the Pfizer vaccine this week.
The city said all employees, both current and new hires, must be fully vaccinated and provide proof of full vaccination by completing the mandatory reporting of their vaccination status in the city's computer system "SAP" by the end of day on Tuesday, Nov. 2, unless an alternative date is agreed to through "the meet and confer process" with the city's recognized employee organizations (REO), or if "an employee requests a medical or religious exemption and a reasonable accommodation is granted."
In the letter, the city reminds employees that “fully vaccinated” means the city has documented that the employee received, at least 14 days prior, either the second dose in a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series or a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine, which leaves city employees until October 19th to become vaccinated.
The city said it was not required to negotiate its decision to adopt the mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy with any of the city's six employee unions, including the Deputy City Attorneys Association, the San Diego City Firefighters Association (IAFF Local 145), the San Diego Municipal Employees Association (SDMEA), and the San Diego Police Officers Association (SDPOA), under state labor laws, but is required to negotiate over the impacts associated with the decision.
An employee will be able to submit a reasonable accommodation request for a medical or religious exemption. The city will release more detailed information with its employees regarding that option following the completion of negotiations with the unions.
NBC 7 reached out to all six of the city's REO's regarding the letter sent to city employees.
San Diego City Firefighters Local 145 provided NBC 7 with the following statement:
"San Diego City Firefighters Local 145 supports the Mayor’s vision to protect the health of City workers and the public from COVID-19. We have and will continue to encourage our personnel to get vaccinated. We’re proud that over 80% of our firefighters have voluntarily received the COVID-19 vaccine to date. Like Mayor Gloria, we also support medical and religious exemptions for those who qualify. We are therefore disappointed by what we believe to be a premature communication from the City’s middle-management which lacks the necessary detail to seek these lawful exemptions. The recent letter was unnecessarily threatening to workers as it coupled a looming deadline with uncertainty. Despite this rushed communication, San Diego City Firefighters Local 145 remains committed to working with City Leadership to find solutions. We intend to continue the meet and confer process so that we can obtain the answers that our dedicated workforce deserves."
The SDPOA responded to NBC 7's request but did not have a comment at this time.
NBC 7 has not received a response from the other four REO's.
Earlier this month, the city required all employees to report their vaccination status saying those who remain unvaccinated are required to wear face coverings while in the workplace.
Employees were asked to report whether or not they were fully vaccinated but were also given an option to decline to respond either way.
The city confirmed that as of 11 a.m. Wednesday, more than 65% of the city's 11,000 employees had self-reported they had been vaccinated and 10% have yet to respond to the survey form.
Of the city's six REO's, members of the Deputy City Attorney Association (DCAA), overseeing 163 members in the City Attorney's office, had the highest percentage of self reported data that more than 87% of its members had been fully vaccinated.
Comparatively, only 969 or 49.1% of the 1,971 members of the San Diego Police Officer's Association (POA) had self-reported their vaccination status as being fully vaccinated.
No other details were released.
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