Opinion: State of emergency ends, but many workers remain fired

Elizabeth Hovde of the Washington Policy Center shares why the state should not be in the business of coercing its workers or prospective hires to receive COVID-19 shots.

Elizabeth Hovde of the Washington Policy Center shares why the state should not be in the business of coercing its workers or prospective hires to receive COVID-19 shots

Elizabeth Hovde
Washington Policy Center

Don’t forget that even as Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee’s state of emergency ends after 975 days, there are still many people who were separated from their jobs because of a COVID-19 vaccine mandate the governor put into place. And that was done without a legislative body weighing in and offering information or debate.

Elizabeth Hovde
Elizabeth Hovde

Families and individuals suffered, as did state services that ranged from ferry cancellations to increased stress on emergency responders. And even though Inslee says lives were saved because of his actions, state comparison and common sense show that a COVID-19 vaccine mandate on working-age adults can’t take credit for lives saved. Vaccines and behaviors have kept people safer from COVID-19’s cruelties.

Now that the one-man rule is ending, the Legislature should do all it can to protect state services and, more importantly, the livelihoods of current and future state employees with emergency power reform. Acting to restore the balance of powers for future use of emergency orders should be one of our lawmakers’ first orders of business.

Some school volunteers will finally get to help out again in classrooms where students have suffered devastating learning loss. Some firefighters in some fire departments might be able to get their jobs back, as this FOX 13 story tells. Other employees are suing their government employers because of how they were tossed aside. Recent news from the New York Supreme Court ordering New York City to rehire and pay back wages to fired, unvaccinated city workers has given a boost of energy to wronged workers in many states. 

A summer directive from Washington’s governor to keep the vaccine mandate on some of our employees even after emergency orders end also needs to be addressed by legislators. Interestingly, the governor let the booster portion of his directive be negotiated away in labor negotiations. Is the science different for union members when it comes to COVID-19? Was the governor really after a public health benefit, if boosters are now no longer necessary? 

The state should not be in the business of coercing its workers or prospective hires to receive COVID-19 shots. Sometimes, the vaccination or boosters will go against a doctor’s advice or a person’s weighing of risks. (Many in the medical community were dismissed along with workers in the governor’s mandate.)

A patient-centered decision concerning a disease and vaccines that the medical community and politicians are still learning about should not be impacted by politics.

Elizabeth Hovde is a policy analyst and the director of the Centers for Health Care and Worker Rights at the Washington Policy Center. She is a Clark County resident.


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Dave Roberts
Dave Roberts
3 months ago

On top of all of the issues illustrated in this article the fact remains that the WA State Gov still has the power to single handley reinstate the “State of Emergency”. That power needs to be taken away next Legislative secession 😉😉. Don’t forget to vote 😉👍

Born in Washington
Born in Washington
3 months ago
Reply to  Dave Roberts

Amen!! You said it brother.

Margaret
Margaret
3 months ago

Recently in New York, State Supreme Court reinstates employees fired for refusing vaccine
Judges: Shots don’t ‘prevent an individual from contracting or transmitting COVID-19’

Fired workers in WA state should get their jobs back, and their retirement benefits. Many businesses like restaurants that went under due to the COVID rules and restrictions have no means for recovery, and their employees suffered too.

Last edited 3 months ago by Margaret
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