Opinion: The plot thickens – Union negotiations appear able to alter Inslee’s booster-inclusive vaccine mandate for state employment

Elizabeth Hovde of the Washington Policy Center deciphers some conflicting information regarding an update to the booster-inclusive vaccine mandate for state employment.

Elizabeth Hovde of the Washington Policy Center deciphers some conflicting information regarding an update to the booster-inclusive vaccine mandate for state employment

Elizabeth Hovde
Washington Policy Center

Is the science different for union members when it comes to COVID-19 and its vaccines? I’m wondering because a press release from Gov. Jay Inslee’s office Friday said his June 30 directive regarding a booster-inclusive vaccine mandate for state employment had been updated. 

Elizabeth Hovde
Elizabeth Hovde

“The updated directive reflects feedback and recommendations from state employees and labor partners to pursue options for offering incentives for COVID-19 boosters instead of making them a requirement,” said the release. It also explained that the current requirement that employees be fully vaccinated – meaning the individual has received all doses of the primary series, even if that was a year or more ago – remains in place. 

The Office of Financial Management (OFM) was in the process of creating rules for the June 30 directive from the governor when the update was made. And the Friday press release said that OFM was also in the process of bargaining with labor:  “Based on the outcome of bargaining, more information will be forthcoming regarding the incentives and how they will be implemented.”  

So it appears that the updated booster mandate, which Inslee has said is necessary to keep people safe, is now a bargaining chip for union negotiation, open to a system of incentives that will likely cost taxpayers money. (The permanent, booster-inclusive mandate was going to apply to employees of state executive and small-cabinet agencies.)

The vaccine-and-booster mandate is clearly not about a health benefit. But we already knew that. Neither vaccines nor boosters stop the spread or contraction of COVID-19, and King County numbers show people with boosters are more likely to test positive for COVID than those with just initial vaccination. So much for science.

The governor’s vaccine mandate is unacceptable, as are incentives for boosters. Labor and the governor are getting this all wrong. Current and future state employees who don’t choose vaccines or boosters don’t want to be forced to get a shot because of a state employment mandate that isn’t patient-centered and brings no demonstrable health benefit to the public. They don’t want “incentives.”

This vaccine mandate is discriminatory and makes no sense. It’s making less sense with every tweak. And it will likely cost you more money. It has already ruined careers, harmed state service levels and pitted co-workers against each other. 

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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  1. Sylvia

    Signs of desperation tactics creeping in? Blatant bribery?
    It is hard to believe that there are those who are willing to risk their health for ‘incentives’ (whatever these may be), despite mounting evidence that the jabs are neither safe nor effective.
    The risks may or may not happen to everyone – but they are risks.
    I respect the prerogative of those who accept what is obviously ‘bribery’ in response to manipulative attempts to generate even more profits for the jabs.
    I equally respect those who decide to remain jab-free.
    Many are of the view that the risks of the jabs far outweigh the risk of catching Covid19.
    Many prefer to be risk averse or over-cautious, rather than regretting what cannot be undone!

  2. Sylvia

    During the height of the ‘jab season’ some States were using burgers/chips and the like as a ‘reward’ for the jab. There were lotteries as well. It is unbelievable that this farce is actually happening in US. To treat Americans in such a derogatory manner proves yet again the utter disrespect and disdain some authorities have for the people.

    Taking the easy way out or succumbing to the lure of sensory gratification may provide momentary bliss that can never last. They are akin to treating only the symptoms, without ever identifying the root cause(s) of an ailment. Hence the ailment is maintained and likely recurs.

    Benjamin Franklin:
    Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

    Is it not time that we unite, despite all our diversities, to take back our liberty as well as our safety?

  3. Sylvia

    Bribery is an unpalatable option that is unsustainable and promotes ill health. It is also offensive in its obvious disdain for people and manipulation.
    Obesity has become rampant in US, and is a precursor of many problems eg T2Diabetes, CVD, skeletal fractures, inflammation, and many more. To encourage this is grossly irresponsible.

    A reward for good health is a far better solution. Governors could offer a reward to those who:
    1. Are not insulin resistant;
    2. Have a BMI of >>> less illness;
    5. Saving of taxpayer $$ through reduced waste on endless disease maintenance.

    Governors could use the savings to offer free training in the development of a truly healthy lifestyle, encourage more discussion groups to promote open and honest communication.

    Those who choose to take the jabs should have open access to factual unredacted research data.
    Those who decide to remain jab-free should be respected and allowed to do so as their right.

    Give it a fair go, you may be pleasantly surprised!


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