California’s biggest public sector union has come out in opposition to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order requiring state workers to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or undergo regular testing.
Richard Louis Brown, president of SEIU Local 1000, which represents some 96,000 employees of the State of California, on Wednesday shared a letter from the union to the California Department of Human Resources (CalHR) objecting to Newsom’s vaccine mandate.
“The new policy constitutes a unilateral change in violation of the obligation to give notice and the opportunity to meet and confer prior to implementation,” reads the letter, signed by SEIU Local 1000 chief counsel Anne Giese.
Giese called on CalHR and the State of California to “cease and desist enforcing this requirement or imposing an immediate deadline” until the union has had the chance to meet and confer.
The move came in response to the Democrat governor’s order, issued on Monday, requiring all of California’s state employees, some 246,000 people, to get vaccinated starting Aug. 2 or be subjected to weekly COVID-19 testing.
COVID-19 is the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
In announcing the vaccine mandate, Newsom pointed to the spread of the Delta variant of the CCP virus, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists as a “variant of concern” and considers to be more transmissible and potentially more resistant to vaccines.
“We are now dealing with a pandemic of the unvaccinated, and it’s going to take renewed efforts to protect Californians from the dangerous Delta variant,” Newsom said in a statement. “As the state’s largest employer, we are leading by example and requiring all state and health care workers to show proof of vaccination or be tested regularly.”
So far, opposition by SEIU Local 1000 marks the only union objection to Newsom’s order.
On Friday, Newsom’s office shared statements in support of his order issued by a number of local leaders and associations.
“Newsom’s new vaccine policy is a reasonable compromise that we can get behind,” said Glen Stailey, president of the Correctional Peace Officers Association. “It provides for regular testing at work for those who have chosen not to get vaccinated—this will prevent the spread of the virus among correctional officers and incarcerated individuals alike.”
Denise Duncan, president of the United Nurses Association of California said in a statement that, “COVID-19 transmissions are high, we’re in a fourth surge, and we know that unvaccinated people are suffering the most. This is a forward-thinking order from Governor Newsom which will save lives by protecting patients and caregivers both.”
Federal, state, and local government officials have pushed vaccinations harder as cases linked to the Delta variant have risen.
Just under half of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
Vaccine mandates have become a hot-button issue, with advocates welcoming them as a measure to help stem the spread of the CCP virus and protect vulnerable populations, while opponents object on a range of grounds, including concerns about side effects, that the COVID-19 vaccines are currently under emergency use authorization, and that mandates infringe on personal liberties.