Through ongoing discussion and negotiations, King County has successfully struck a deal around the vaccine mandate for county employees with a majority of its unions, including the King County Coalition of Unions, the Technical Employees Association, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 77, the King County Corrections Guild, the King County Juvenile Detention Guild, the Washington State Nurses Association, and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 587.
King County and the Coalition of Unions, Technical Employees Association, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 77, the King County Corrections Guild, the King County Juvenile Detention Guild, the Washington State Nurses Association, and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 587 – who represent 95% of the County’s workforce – reached an agreement over the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all King County Employees in the Executive Branch.
On August 10, 2021, King County Executive Dow Constantine issued an order that all Executive Branch employees must be fully vaccinated by October 18, 2021. Since then, the Office of Labor Relations has been in negotiations on what will be considered full compliance and how the mandate will be implemented in King County, coming to an agreement with the unions.
“I am pleased that our Office of Labor Relations and nearly all of our labor unions have successfully negotiated the way we will implement employee vaccination,” said Executive Constantine. “With a fully vaccinated workforce, we are protecting one another and the public we serve, keeping our community safe and healthy.”
“The Coalition of Unions is pleased to have completed negotiations regarding the Executive’s order as it impacts roughly 6,000 members working throughout the County,” Maria Williams, Coalition of Unions co-chair. “We are committed to continuing to work with the County to make sure individual rights of workers are protected while we work to achieve our shared goals of public health and employment security.”
Under the agreement, an employee who is unable to work due to side-effects of being vaccinated may use COVID leave while they recover, and the employee will be provided paid leave should they contract COVID.
Negotiations also established procedures for compliance and exemptions. Under compliance processes, the agreement offers those who have not yet shown proof of full vaccination by October 18, can avoid separation from the county provided they have begun the process for being fully vaccinated and can complete that process by December 2. Employees may make requests for a reasonable accommodation based on a medical disability or for sincerely held religious beliefs. The County will determine if the employee is eligible to be considered for an accommodation and if eligible, the County will determine if the employee can be safely accommodated.
As of September 21, 87% of King County employees have completed at least one dose of vaccine, with 80% already fully vaccinated in advance of the October 18 deadline.
NOTE: Release updated to add agreement with Amalgamated Transit Union Local 587, and increases workforce percentage to 95%.