Pennsylvania Dem gov threated with lawsuit by prison guard union over vaccine mandate

The Pennsylvania Prison Guards Union has become a voice of reason against the draconian left’s call for increasingly strict requirements related to COVID-19 and has threatened legal action if the governor’s new “vaccine-or-test” requirement is not changed.

This week, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf announced that approximately 25,000 workers in “high-risk congregate care facilities” and other state health care facilities including state correction institutions would be required to be fully vaccinated by September 7, 2021, or be required to submit to COVID-19 testing. New employees would be required to be vaccinated prior to employment in these facilities.

In response, President John Eckenrode of the Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association (PSCOA) sent a scathing letter on Thursday threatening a lawsuit and criticizing the governor for his haphazard rollercoaster response to the pandemic.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, Corrections employees have gone to work every day in horrible conditions,” Eckenrode, who represents about 10,000 employees, wrote. “Your decision this week to mandate vaccinations and/or testing is a slap in the face – and, frankly, way too late because thousands of our members already have been infected, due to your inaction.”

“This is the latest episode of what has been a woefully inconsistent vaccination/testing/masking policy by this administration in our state prisons. PSCOA has instructed legal counsel to challenge this latest proposed policy change,” he informed the Keystone State’s governor.

The letter discussed the fact that around 3,700 employees that he is aware of had already been infected. Citing a study that indicated actual case counts are far greater than the confirmed case count and another that indicated COVID-19 antibodies from even mild infections likely lead to lifelong immunity, he questioned why natural immunity was being ignored by the governor’s administration as well as the federal government.

He explained that the requirements have been inconsistent from the start as the union members are required to wear masks, but the inmates they supervise are not.

“In fact, the current policy concerning inmate masking states, ‘No force or misconduct should be issued to enforce compliance.’ Once again, this does not in any way improve safety in congregate settings, ” he pointed out.

The governor is apparently blind to the inconsistencies in the policies.

“Throughout the pandemic, we have learned that the COVID-19 virus thrives in settings where people live in close proximity such as congregate care. These individuals are often our most vulnerable Pennsylvanians who are unable to leave these facilities and rely on the direct care of the staff. We want our residents and their loved ones to have peace of mind that we are doing everything we can to keep them safe,” said Wolf in a press release about the new requirements. “It is our responsibility to ​do our part to protect our most vulnerable neighbors and stop the spread of this highly contagious virus.”

“We are not anti-vaccination,” Eckenrode told Local21News. “I’m vaccinated myself and I strongly encourage anyone who’s comfortable enough to get a vaccine to go do so, but we do believe it’s the individual’s choice to do that.”

Eckenrode remains positive that the policy will change before the September 7 deadline.

“There’s a very good possibility something happens before that,” Eckenrode said.

Ashley Hill

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