MBTA workers and Massachusetts law enforcement unions oppose Gov. Charlie Baker’s recent order requiring coronavirus vaccines for all public workers as education officials develop a mandate to mask for students.
The union representing prison guards and other state prison officials pushed back immediately after Baker issued the executive order last Thursday, warning that he would pursue “all legal and legislative remedies” to end the obligation to vaccinate all public sector employees by mid-October.
The Massachusetts State Police Association doubled down, saying the soldiers “opposed the all-or-nothing approach” of the vaccination mandate.
And the MBTA workers piled up saying, “Under no circumstances do we accept these terms without negotiation and will continue to fight on your behalf,” according to a statement from Boston Union Carmen President Jim Evers.
Baker issued an executive order requiring employees in the state of Massachusetts to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination by October 17.
“The vast majority of state police personnel are fully vaccinated and have received their vaccinations voluntarily,” state police association officials said, while maintaining the soldiers “share the goal of governor to protect public health, and in fact the protection of the public is our main mission ”.
In March, state police officials said that 2,002 of 2,847 sworn and civilian state police personnel had received at least one dose, but department officials said they do not officially track the vaccination rate among members because it is not mandatory.
The order was somewhat of a reversal from Baker’s earlier hard line against the vaccine requirement and came as the delta variant of the coronavirus rages through the state, sending the daily count of cases again.
State education officials are also set to impose masks on students this fall, after initial resistance.
Education Commissioner Jeff Riley is expected to ask board members for permission to allow masks in schools until October 1 on Tuesday in a bid to reopen schools safely and allow time to increase vaccination rates.
Students 12 and under are still not eligible for vaccines as trials are still ongoing. Emergency use clearance from the FDA is expected this fall.
Riley will ask the Council of Primary and Secondary Education to grant him the power to mandate masks for all students, educators and public staff in Kindergarten to Grade 12, according to an announcement from the Ministry of Primary Education and secondary.
After October 1, the policy would allow middle and high schools to lift the mandatory mask for vaccinated students and staff only if the school achieves a certain vaccination rate – with at least 80% of students and staff in a building school being vaccinated.