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How are unions responding to vaccination mandates?

On Behalf of | Nov 15, 2021 | Labor Law

Recently announced vaccine mandates have received mixed responses from Michiganders. Some welcome the news, especially those eager to return to a life more reflective of pre-pandemic living. The announcement angered others who feel their jobs should not hinge on their vaccination status.

And the reception was equally mixed among unions. 

They aren’t necessarily anti-vaccine

Many groups are not all-or-nothing when it comes to the mandate. Instead, many fall somewhere in between; they support vaccines but not government-mandated vaccinations as a condition of employment. 

For instance, one article recently noted that some pilot, police and firefighters unions do not support the mandate. Their reasons stem (broadly) from the belief that individuals and their doctors should make health-related decisions, not government mandates.

Union responses vary 

The pandemic has had varying degrees of impact on different professions. Because of this, unions are split on how to respond to the mandate. Many of them plan to negotiate ways of mitigating the negative impact on front-line workers. 

For instance, some unions are considering options like:

  • Getting members paid time off to get vaccinated
  • Making vaccination decisions at a local level rather than national
  • Negotiating additional safety resources in exchange for compliance
  • Seeking additional exemptions
  • Renegotiating sick leave and disability policies tied to adverse reactions to vaccination

These measures could make it easier for unions to comply with vaccination requirements but on their terms.

Every industry (and individual) is unique

The mandates are dividing unions representing different professions. And within these groups are individual workers who also have varying personal views on this subject. 

Unlike other issues that union members generally agree on, such as fair pay and safe working conditions, this mandate could trigger in-fighting within organized groups. Union conflicts can be highly stressful, especially considering the importance of working together in a union.

It will undoubtedly be interesting to see how the mandates and responses ultimately roll out. We will continue to assess how these requirements may affect those working in Michigan.