PHILADELPHIA – The City of Philadelphia today announced that an interest arbitration panel has issued an award covering employees represented by AFSCME District Council 33 regarding the implementation of the City’s workforce vaccination mandate previously announced in November. After the mandate’s announcement, District Council 33 (DC 33) requested bargaining over the mandate’s implementation and made a number of proposals which the Union agreed to put before an interest arbitration panel.
After a hearing on December 17, 2021, the interest arbitration panel issued an Award resolving the matter, covering all City employees represented by DC 33. The details of the Award are as follows:
Employees must have received—and provide proof of—at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccination(s), or have submitted an exemption request, by Friday, January 14, 2022.
Employees who receive a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Friday, January 14, 2022 will be required to complete their vaccination series according to the schedule prescribed for the vaccine they receive and will be required to double-mask or wear an appropriate N95 or equivalent as well as participate in routine testing until the vaccination schedule is complete.
If an employee has a request for exemption to the vaccination requirement pending on Friday, January 14 that is later denied, the employee must begin the vaccination process by receiving a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine within 14 calendar days of the denial of their exemption request or the denial of their appeal of that request under the Award.
Employees who fail to comply with this mandate to become fully vaccinated and who are not granted an exemption will be considered unable to perform their duties, will be informed they may no longer report for work, and will be placed on leave for 30 days. At the end of the 30 days, if they have not started their schedule of vaccination, they may be separated from employment. Any employee placed on leave will be required to utilize accumulated paid vacation during this 30 day period and employees who do not have paid vacation available will be unpaid during this time. Additionally, employees placed on leave will continue to be eligible for health benefits and will not experience a break in seniority or pension service, provided they have sufficient vacation time available. If the employee does not have sufficient accumulated vacation available, any period of unpaid leave beyond 15 calendar days will be considered a break in service. Employees will continue to be subject to applicable departmental restrictions on outside work while on leave.
Employees who receive a first vaccine dose of a COVID-19 vaccine during this 30 day period will be given an appropriate length of time to complete that vaccine schedule as determined by the type of vaccine and will be required to double mask or wear an appropriate N95 or equivalent as well as participate in the testing requirements detailed in the Award until the vaccination schedule is complete. Should the employee fail to complete the schedule and provide proof that they’ve completed their schedule of vaccination in the time frame provided, they may be separated from employment.
Employees who submit a request for exemption after Friday, January 14 will remain on leave until a determination is reached on their exemption request, until they exhaust the 30-day leave period or they receive a first vaccine dose, whichever occurs sooner.
“The safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines remain the best way to protect Philadelphians and save lives in the ongoing struggle to fight this pandemic,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “I’m thankful that DC 33 has agreed to the fair, sensible terms in the Award handed down by the arbitration panel. As public servants, we bear a responsibility to mitigate the harm that would result from inadvertent transmission of COVID-19 to our colleagues and the public and to set an example for other organizations and companies. We’re hopeful that this agreement with DC 33 sets the bar for our other labor partners as we continue working to implement this policy.”
All permanent City employees who have completed their full schedule of COVID-19 vaccination and provided proof of their vaccination status in accordance with Section IX by Tuesday, February 15, 2022, will receive a cash bonus of $300, which will be paid by Friday, April 1, 2022. This includes City employees covered by prior vaccination mandates.
While employees may not simply opt out of vaccination, the City’s policy—and the Award handed down for employees represented by DC 33—does provide for religious or medical exemptions. Employees granted an exemption from the vaccination requirements will be required to follow additional safety protocols, including routine testing.
The full Award can be found online.