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AFSCME flooded with vax mandate feedback

Tuesday, Sep 7, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Form response letter from AFSCME Council 31…

Thank you for your feedback regarding vaccination mandates. We’re sorry to reply with this form letter, but we have had far too many letters from members (both for and against mandates) to respond to each individually.

We wanted to be sure you know that AFSCME supports the same kind of mandate that President Biden has put in place for federal government employees and that Governor Pritzker has put in place for all teachers and other school and university personnel, as well as for hospital and nursing home employees. This form of mandate requires that employees either be vaccinated or provide proof of weekly (or even twice weekly) testing.

We believe that state employees—or city or county employees—should be treated no differently than teachers and staff in our schools or nurses and doctors in our hospitals, and our bargaining is pressing for the same treatment for all.

Council 31’s position was developed in consultation with local union leaders from across the state. It is not anti-mandate, as some in the media have implied, but against a rigid, punitive mandate that would result in the discharge of every employee who does not get vaccinated by early October.

Our position is the same that most other unions are taking, and we are coordinating with some of those unions in the bargaining now underway with various employers.

AFSCME has been and will continue to be a leading voice in promoting COVID vaccinations. We have distributed informational materials and handouts, developed videos, held webinars and posted information on the Council 31 website and Facebook page, all with the goal of encouraging members to get vaccinated—and many thousands have done so!

In addition, our union has relentlessly advocated for appropriate protective measures in the worksites where tens of thousands of union members have been working every day since the outbreak of this pandemic—measures that employers have often been all too slow to put in place.

AFSCME’s overriding priority is to protect the health of our members and the public they serve. We will continue to act with that imperative front and center.

We appreciate you taking your time to write and express your opinion.

As I told subscribers last week, AFSCME is basically asking for the status quo ante. But that hasn’t stopped outbreaks in the state’s congregate facilities and it has rewarded employees who refuse to be vaxed with unlimited paid time off.

Get your shots.

…Adding… From comments…

The difference is that a student or a parent of a student can choose to avoid unvaccinated teachers through remote learning or homeschooling. Others that rely on state services, such as those in prisons or those in veteran homes, do not have that choice. By ignoring those that are dependent on state services, AFSCME’s argument of status quo is invalid.

       

38 Comments
  1. - Saluki - Tuesday, Sep 7, 21 @ 9:17 am:

    Weekly testing sounds good, but by the time a person has tested positive, they have already spread the virus to countless people. I agree that all should be vaccinated, no excuses other than medical.


  2. - Anyone Remember - Tuesday, Sep 7, 21 @ 9:19 am:

    This is AFSCME

    https://youtu.be/FapPrDGxTpw?t=56


  3. - truthteller - Tuesday, Sep 7, 21 @ 9:21 am:

    - the health insurance cost is going to hit ASFME hard and what can they say about it?


  4. - JS Mill - Tuesday, Sep 7, 21 @ 9:22 am:

    the “get tested” part of the mandate is creating a huge stress on schools. The state should have been prepared to help us before, not after, the mandate was announced. Large districts may have the capacity to test everyone, but medium and small districts do not. The health departments are not providing any assistance at this point.

    SHIELD won’t tests employees only, and requiring student testing is a non-starter for many districts.


  5. - Mr K - Tuesday, Sep 7, 21 @ 9:22 am:

    Why not just give a monthly bonus to vaccinated people? (Or deduct from the unvaxxed like Delta) — but the bonus is a more positive approach.

    Even 100 bucks a month would probably cause an uptick in the vax’d.


  6. - Lake County Mom - Tuesday, Sep 7, 21 @ 9:22 am:

    Saluki is 100% correct.


  7. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Sep 7, 21 @ 9:23 am:

    === AFSCME’s overriding priority is to protect the health of our members and the public they serve. We will continue to act with that imperative front and center.===

    After totally whiffing in this, it’s pretty embarrassing to claim this, as it’s not wholly true when looking at the history of AFSCME’s… “evolution”

    Tough to take AFSCME seriously on this, but most of all “get your shots” is the order of the day.

    ===In addition, our union has relentlessly advocated for appropriate protective measures in the worksites where tens of thousands of union members have been working every day since the outbreak of this pandemic—measures that employers have often been all too slow to put in place.===

    … while seemingly holding out for those noisy few who won’t/wouldn’t get vaccinated. I can show where.

    I guess my beef in this ever evolving position is AFSCME wants this to be about being thoughtful, but in actuality it’s been folks, even commenting here, how important it is that the members refusing to get vaccinated “be heard”… and the trying to twist that into “leadership advocating for the safety of all” jargon.

    Get members vaccinated, this is seemingly the first time the term “mandate” as not an attack on labor but something labor should embrace for safety. That’s better.


  8. - AC - Tuesday, Sep 7, 21 @ 9:26 am:

    146 people lost their lives in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911, which led to the growth of labor unions across the country and legislation improving workplace safety. COVID killed 26,614 people in Illinois so far, and far too many to ignore the calls from members in support of vaccine mandates. In other words, take the necessary step to “protect the health of our members and the public they serve”.


  9. - DHS Drone - Tuesday, Sep 7, 21 @ 9:26 am:

    Just get vaxxed. Regular testing simply isn’t as good as being vaxxed. Relying on regular testing still puts tons of at risk populations in the facilities at risk. AFSCME is simply enabling the anti-vaxxers at this point. Embarrassing.


  10. - MrX - Tuesday, Sep 7, 21 @ 9:40 am:

    What are the chances they use this as an opportunity to close a facility like Vandalia? It’s located in the Eastern Bloc and you would only have to worry about transferring around 10% of the staff since the rest are all unvaccinated.


  11. - Pundent - Tuesday, Sep 7, 21 @ 9:42 am:

    =In addition, our union has relentlessly advocated for appropriate protective measures in the worksites where tens of thousands of union members have been working every day since the outbreak of this pandemic—measures that employers have often been all too slow to put in place.=

    Isn’t the vaccine the ultimate protective measures? Seems a bit hypocritical for AFSCME to criticize how slow their employer is while asking for more time to continue to educate their members on the benefits of the vaccine.


  12. - Mason born - Tuesday, Sep 7, 21 @ 9:47 am:

    Just my 2c but it seems to me AFSCME is taking a calculated risk that with the post Janus changes to membership rules the people angry at their recalcitrance will be less likely to go through the hoops to leave the union than the anti vaxers. They can anger the majority of the members so long as they aren’t willing to take the tedious steps of leaving AFSCME. If it plays out AFSCME’s way then they can stall until something else catches peoples attention. Now an Antivaxer might just follow through and leave.

    I wonder if AFSCME would be more responsive without the change to labor laws that limit when and how members can leave.


  13. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Sep 7, 21 @ 9:49 am:

    ===Now an Antivaxer might just follow through and leave===

    If they lose their job, they’re leaving anyway.


  14. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Sep 7, 21 @ 9:51 am:

    ===calculated risk===

    Either be an actual labor union dedicated to the safety, well being, and health of its membership, a founding pillar…

    … or not?

    That’s why it’s difficult for me to take AFSCME at all serious through this, if that’s the calculation


  15. - WestBurbs - Tuesday, Sep 7, 21 @ 9:53 am:

    Can anybody link me to the Executive Order requiring vaccines for these individuals? I see #21 that has vax requirement for teachers/health care and would like to compare the language to that for AFCSME members. I’m trying to figure out the contrast between the AFSCME mandate language and the Teacher Mandate language with respect to the so-called “testing option.” The Teacher language is pretty amibigous about “testing option” Thanks


  16. - Mason born - Tuesday, Sep 7, 21 @ 9:59 am:

    I’m not excusing AFSCME’s actions i find it cowardly and deplorable it’s the opposite of leadership.

    As for Anti-Vaxxers getting fired, some will stick to their idiocy but i suspect most will just internalize it and roll up their sleeves. They may take it out on AFSCME but Truck payments don’t make themselves. Which makes AFSCME more cowardly to me, they could help their members and their families by getting out of the way but leading is hard.

    Again just my 2c.


  17. - Amalia - Tuesday, Sep 7, 21 @ 9:59 am:

    but mom, I’m just doing what the other kids do. jerks. it’s easy, just get the vaccine. stop coddling your members who have reservations. union weak.


  18. - Flyin' Elvis'-Utah Chapter - Tuesday, Sep 7, 21 @ 9:59 am:

    Saw hundreds of form letters from 31 during my career.

    If your local doesn’t have a member on 31’s Exec Board, good luck. Cause this is all you’re getting from them.


  19. - Excitable Boy - Tuesday, Sep 7, 21 @ 9:59 am:

    AFSCME would have been wise to backdoor support a vax mandate for all state employees from the start. These congregate facility employees aren’t going to quit, these are the best jobs available to them. They may throw a fit and become freeloaders, however, since AFSCME botched this so badly.


  20. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Sep 7, 21 @ 10:11 am:

    - Mason born -

    I didn’t think you were. Nope.

    If AFSCME is “calculating” as such, and their initial overtures and thoughts seemed to be positions a labor union would not state, how exactly is AFSCME a serious labor organization dedicated to the safety, well being, and health of its members in the workplace?

    They’re trying to seem as though that was the intention and thought from jump street, but it has not been.

    Be well.


  21. - PublicServant - Tuesday, Sep 7, 21 @ 10:15 am:

    Get the vaccine, or get fired unless you have a medical reason for not getting vaxxed. Stop playing with people’s lives so you can have “freedom” that risks killing others.


  22. - Honeybear - Tuesday, Sep 7, 21 @ 10:22 am:

    OW- what was the word that I introduced to this forum? That 7 letter word.
    Look for it. It’s at play here.
    If it’s true, which it is, that the stance of council 31 was done in consultation with the other unions, does it not follow that they understand something extraordinary is at play here? They do and that’s why they are not denouncing AFSCME.
    Peak behind the curtain OW.
    50+1 does the deed
    The Cat Frat with open arms.

    It’s not pandering, it’s averting

    But maybe I’m wrong
    Regardless it could be regular loyal union workers who pay the price.
    Rauner tried an assault on the front gate.
    He failed.
    Perfidy is at play inside.


  23. - A Jack - Tuesday, Sep 7, 21 @ 10:22 am:

    The difference is that a student or a parent of a student can choose to avoid unvaccinated teachers through remote learning or homeschooling. Others that rely on state services, such as those in prisons or those in veteran homes, do not have that choice. By ignoring those that are dependent on state services, AFSCME’s argument of status quo is invalid.


  24. - Fixer - Tuesday, Sep 7, 21 @ 10:22 am:

    May 26th next year. That’s when this member can and will withdraw from AFSCME if this is the type of stance they’re going to stick to in this situation. I’ve also had a few others within my local ask how to get the information on withdrawing over this. It’s not the anti-vax people that are going to withdraw over this, it’s the members who see this kind of kowtowing to the folks that have zero interest in public safety.


  25. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Sep 7, 21 @ 10:25 am:

    === Rauner tried an assault on the front gate.
    He failed.
    Perfidy is at play inside.===

    Any labor organization that sees the safety, health, and well being as an avenue that needs blocking to exist to block a group trying to implode it… than what exactly is that union trying to preserve?


  26. - WestBurbs - Tuesday, Sep 7, 21 @ 10:39 am:

    Sorry, I spaced. EO 21 includes both health care/education and congregate facilities. And the difference in language between them is pretty clear - so I agree with AFSCME that they are being treated different from health care/education in that they don’t have a testing option. The EO could be clearer on the testing option for healthcare/education but comparing language suggests that healthcare/education can decline vax for any reason and, instead, test.

    To be clear, I don’t agree with AFSCME position and I think their should not be a test option for anybody — everybody should be mandated to vax. Just trying to clarify my above question.


  27. - Jamie70 - Tuesday, Sep 7, 21 @ 10:51 am:

    Many schools did not offer online schooling as an option and only available if students are quarantined. Also, my daughters school is not quarantining anyone at home if they were exposed and instead keeping them in school and testing them on days 3,5, and 7 at school. I’d they test positive, then they are sent home. If COVID is most contagious two days before symptoms begin this protocol doesn’t seem like it will be effective if they’ve been at school and only test positive later. Yes, masks are worn but I have seen many children with them below their nose. They also want to hang out after school without masks.


  28. - Candy Dogood - Tuesday, Sep 7, 21 @ 10:58 am:

    ===But that hasn’t stopped outbreaks in the state’s congregate facilities===

    I might still be wet behind the ears but I don’t think it’s really safe to assume that corrections leadership successfully implemented all of the mitigation efforts at each facility in the first place. I would also be surprised if Wardens accurately reported when they had failed to actually follow mitigation efforts to their director’s office.

    I think it would be reasonable to piggyback off of whatever the federal bureau of prisons is doing, and if the outcome is different than what they’re experiencing it’s probably due to implementation.


  29. - Marty McFly - Tuesday, Sep 7, 21 @ 11:04 am:

    I am so old, I remember when Bruce Rauner compared schools to prisons and people were outraged.

    If you are a union, and you are borrowing tools from Bruce Rauner’s toolbox, you are failing.


  30. - thechampaignlife - Tuesday, Sep 7, 21 @ 11:05 am:

    But what about all the other mandated vaccines? Why is this one the line in the sand? Perfidy indeed.

    Can we just suck up our pride, call it the Trump vaccine, launch a marketing campaign fawning over our glorious former president who created it, and hand out $100 Trump stimulus payments to get vaccinated? That may be far more effective at this point than arguing with antivaxxers on social media.


  31. - zatoichi - Tuesday, Sep 7, 21 @ 11:21 am:

    Is AFSCME afraid of appearing to work/agree with the administration to solve a problem without politicing the event? Covid directly effects working conditions more than salary, vacations, and benefits. It also effects the community AFSCME where members live. They can follow the mandate, help control Covid, get great PR, but they seem more concerned about irritating the self centered screamers.


  32. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Sep 7, 21 @ 12:21 pm:

    ===corrections leadership successfully implemented all of the mitigation efforts===

    The people who enforce mitigations on visitors, etc. are the guards themselves. AFSCME members.


  33. - Southside Sam - Tuesday, Sep 7, 21 @ 12:21 pm:

    I know multiple people who have quit the union over this and I for one do not blame them. One of the main objectives of a union is keeping its workers safe. The stance they have taken doesn’t not meet that objective. I personally am on the fence of quitting union- but it’s getting harder and harder to back this greedy organization.


  34. - Norseman - Tuesday, Sep 7, 21 @ 1:05 pm:

    === It’s not pandering, it’s averting ===

    I hear variations on that theme from what used to be decent politicians. They’ve now been cowed to become shells of their former selves. While I understand the need to compromise to deal with factions, there comes a time when you need to do what’s best for all.


  35. - Seats - Tuesday, Sep 7, 21 @ 1:25 pm:

    I’m a disgusted AFSCME member but with that said, isnt the unions approval basically just lip service to give the governor a little bit of political cover? Hasn’t the legal system already shown he can force the mandate on stage employees regardless of their stance?

    If so he needs to be the adult in the room and make it happen, and remember that come contract negotiations next time around.


  36. - Lurker - Tuesday, Sep 7, 21 @ 2:33 pm:

    “ it has rewarded employees who refuse to be vaxed with unlimited paid time off”

    This is no longer correct as no one under the governor offices gets covid time.

    Odd side effect is that some unvaccinated were going to get vaccinated after it was approved but now they are worried about side effects and missing work time (and using own time that is quite limited for newer employees).


  37. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Sep 7, 21 @ 2:37 pm:

    ===This is no longer correct===

    It would be if AFSCME got its way.


  38. - Dotnonymous - Tuesday, Sep 7, 21 @ 3:39 pm:

    If you are borrowing tools from Rauner’s toolbox you are failing…no matter who you are.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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