As Seattle faces a new crime wave thanks to last year’s defunding efforts by the city council, it now prepares to lose approximately 200 more officers in attempts to force them to hand over private medical data.
Mayor Jenny Durkan of Seattle has stood firm on a mandate requiring city workers to get vaccinated and provide the city with proof of said vaccination by October 18th, or be terminated from their jobs. If enforced it could lead to a loss of roughly 200 officers, which is nearly over 20% of the city’s standing police force.
The various city workers’ unions immediately responded with an announcement of their own, saying that such a clause would be subject to collective bargaining with a given worker’s union.
A letter was sent to the city’s labor negotiator by the co-chair of the Coalition of City Unions on August 10th. The letter demands incentive pay for vaccines, paid time for recovery from any side effects or consequences, an additional 80 hours of paid leave for employees who are vaccinated but test positive and must isolate, and severance packages for any employees who do not wish to vaccinate and face actual termination.
“We could potentially have a lot of officers that could be terminated. If you are advocating for more police officers because you know crime is on the rise, you need more cops because of what the City Council did. Why are you threatening us with our jobs (if) you don’t get this vaccination. It’s unbelievable to me, it doesn’t make any sense,” said Mike Solan, president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, on a podcast dated the 18th of August, according to KOMO News.
Durkan’s spokeswoman, Kelsey Nyland, gave confirmation that the city had received the union’s position on the matter and was engaged in negotiations:
“The City has begun bargaining the impacts of the vaccine requirement with unions, including the Coalition of City Unions, SPOG, and IAFF Local 27. We continue to prioritize good faith engagement with our labor partners throughout this effort to keep our employees – and the communities we serve – safe.”
This comes after Seattle has lost a whopping 270 officers in 18 months. With city council members openly discussing slashing the force by as much as 50%, many officers saw the writing on the wall and left. Even the police chief position remains unfilled (except by interims and stand-ins) due to the city council threatening to cut the last chief’s salary by 40%, which shockingly enough resulted in her resignation. The result has been a crime spike that is being said to have turned Seattle into a “no man’s land.”
Seattle is not the only major city facing walkouts over enforcement of a vaccine mandate on police officers and other city workers. In August, the head of the Chicago police union said that thousands of officers would be willing to walk off the job in protest of the policy.
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