Elected leaders in Los Angeles have pushed back the deadline given for city workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or face possible termination.
LAist reported, “A plan passed by the Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday makes it time consuming and expensive for city workers to refuse the coronavirus shots, but pushes the mandate deadline to Dec. 18, giving holdouts more time to decide.”
According to the outlet, “During the additional weeks, unvaccinated city workers will have $65 deducted from their salary twice a week to cover the cost of testing for the coronavirus on their own time.”
City employees can still apply for a religious or medical exemption but will still be required to pay for testing twice a week. If an exemption is granted, they will be reimbursed by the city.
The initial deadline was October 20. However, recent data from the mayor’s office indicated 72.8% of city employees had reported being partially or fully vaccinated. The original ordinance was passed in August, but according to the Los Angeles Times, “[t]hose rules became conditions of city employment last week, but the law did not spell out what would happen, at the time, to people who refused to get vaccinated.”
Employees who have not requested an exemption or already provided evidence of vaccination must “show proof of full compliance” by December 18, the updated plan says, adding, failure to comply with the requirements “shall result in appropriate and immediate corrective action.”
“Employees must be vaccinated by December 18, and we are putting a rigorous testing program into place in the meantime,” said Democratic Mayor Eric Garcetti in a statement issued last week. “Let me be clear: any employee who refuses to be vaccinated by this date should be prepared to lose their job.”
Council members voted 13-0 to approve the new rules. Mayoral candidate Joe Buscaino did not attend the meeting, and fellow Democrat Mark Ridley-Thomas has been barred from voting on items. He was recently indicted on federal corruption charges.
Courthouse News provides more details:
The mayor and other elected officials have stopped just short of promising to fire unvaccinated employees. That’s in part because officials fear what will happen to city services should there be widespread firings or resignations. And in general, terminating some city employees, particularly ones represented by certain labor unions, can be a long and costly process. The city is currently in negotiations with unions over its vaccine mandate enforcement. The plan passed Tuesday was described as the city’s “last, best and final offer” made to labor groups.
On November 8, L.A.’s mandate requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to enter most public indoor places takes effect. The ordinance will apply to people 12-years-old and older entering businesses where food or beverages are served, as well as gyms, personal care establishments, entertainment and recreation venues, and city facilities.