CSEA, PEF & UUP On Governor Cuomo’s Vaccine-Or-Test Policy For State Employees
(ALBANY, NEW YORK) - Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday (July 28th) that New York will mandate COVID-19 vaccination for State Employees and Patient-Facing Health Care Workers at state hospitals. The Governor said State Employees will have the option to test regularly instead, while Health Care Workers will not. Cuomo said he is targeting Labor Day for this mandate to go into effect and says the decision was made because of a recent COVID-19 surge fueled by the Delta Variant.
As such, the following New York State Unions that combine to represents hundreds of thousands of Public Employees released the following statements:
Civil Service Employees Association President Mary Sullivan: "CSEA supports the Governor's vaccine-or-test policy. New York has come a long way in overcoming COVID-19 together and we cannot slide backwards now or we put our Members, Workers, our families, children and all of us at greater risk. We need to continue to be diligent in protecting everyone in New York against COVID and this helps accomplish that. This procedure is already being effectively used in the SUNY (State University at New York) System and all that's happening here is it is being expanded, which CSEA supports."
The Public Employees Federation (PEF): PEF recognizes the importance of COVID-19 vaccination, but maintains such a requirement should be discussed between the Union and the State before being rolled out. “PEF encourages our Members to be vaccinated,” PEF President Wayne Spence said. “The vaccines are proven to prevent the deadly COVID virus and they create a safer workplace. We agree with other unions that a vaccination mandate must be bargained between Labor and management. In addition, PEF recognizes that both public and private employers have the right to require COVID testing, but any testing of State Employees must not put the health of our Members at risk. PEF will continue to advocate for increased tele-commuting where possible and strict COVID protocols in the workplace, including masks as required, proper air ventilation in all state offices, and social distancing as appropriate.”
United University Professions (UUP) President Fred Kowal: “Throughout the pandemic, UUP has taken the lead in keeping our students, our patients and our Members safe. We have worked closely with SUNY to enact COVID-19 surveillance testing and mask-wearing mandates on our campuses. In a recent survey of our Members, nearly 90% report being vaccinated against COVID-19. On July 1st, UUP and SUNY agreed to extend mandatory weekly Coronavirus testing for unvaccinated Union-represented Employees. This is similar to the COVID-19 vaccine directive from the Governor regarding State Employees. Because (these) directives from the Governor - particularly mandatory vaccinations for our Front-Facing Health Care Workers at SUNY’s Public Teaching Hospitals in Brooklyn, Stony Brook and Syracuse -would change the terms and conditions of employment for our Members, they must be negotiated with UUP before they are imposed. UUP is willing to negotiate the implementation of the Governor’s directives. We look forward to meeting with and discussing these issues with State Representatives. Our Union believes that all people who are physically able should be inoculated against COVID-19 and we have urged our Members many times - most recently through our #VaxUpUUP Campaign - to roll up their sleeves and get the vaccine. Combatting COVID-19 by vaccinating as many people as possible is an important public health concern that must be addressed swiftly. UUP has shown itself to be a responsible community member and our Union will continue to be proactive in that role.”
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