MTA Vaccination – Testing Program
Yesterday, Governor Hochul announced that by October 12th state workers will have to be either vaccinated or face weekly testing. That includes both MTA and Port Authority workers. We will continue to discuss/resolve all of the issues we have already raised regarding the weekly testing program. We will also continue with the PERB charge we had filed before the “deferral” of the implementation of the Vaxx-Test Program.
After numerous meetings with management regarding the implementation of the Vaxx-Test Program without first resolving all of the concerns and questions we raised, the Union filed an improper practice charge against the MTA on Thursday, September 2nd. We meet again with the Department of Buses on Friday, September 3rd and again raised our concerns regarding the implementation of the Program and demanded that the implementation of this program be postponed until these issues are resolved. On Saturday, September 4th the MTA’s Chief Safety and Security Officer issued a bulletin announcing the postponement of the Vaxx-Testing Program.
Last week Governor Cuomo announced that MTA and Port Authority employees working in New York facilities will be required to either be vaccinated for COVID-19 or be tested weekly starting Labor Day.
Hearing that announcement, we immediately consulted with our legal counsel, the TWU International and reviewed all the recent legal decisions regarding an employer’s ability to require employees to either get vaccinated or be subjected to regular testing. After weighing all this information, we concluded that initiating a legal challenge to the MTA’s vaccination/testing program would not delay its implementation and would ultimately fail.
The CDC and health professionals have concluded that the most effective way to defeat the spread of the virus is to get vaccinated. However, the Union recognizes that there may be reasons an individual may choose not to.
Therefore, the best option for us is to work with management to address the many issues and formidable logistical challenges in designing and implementing a periodic routine COVID diagnostic testing protocol for the unvaccinated employees that imposes the fewest burdens while also protecting their individual rights. We have also expressed our concerns regarding the impact the implementation of such a program may have on employee availability and our ability to effectively supervise the maintenance and transportation operations.
We will continue our ongoing discussions with management on all of these important issues and we will keep our members updated on our progress.