Flu Shot Update: Teamsters Take Legal Action to Protect Workers’ Rights

This week, Teamsters Local 2010 filed two legal actions to prevent the University of California from unilaterally implementing a vaccination policy that would violate workers’ rights. Meanwhile, in another legal case filed in Alameda Superior Court, the Judge has ordered UC not to take any adverse action against employees for declining a flu vaccination, at least until Nov. 4, when the Court will hold its hearing on the matter.  

Our Union filed its legal actions because UC has refused to bargain in good faith over its proposed vaccination policy, which would change past practice by requiring every worker, on campuses and in the medical centers, to get the flu shot without the option of a personal exemption. Our Teamster bargaining team, made up of members from across the UC system, has been fighting for a flu vaccination policy which our members can embrace, which would keep our co-workers and loved ones safe, while protecting workers’ rights to make their own healthcare decisions. Our team has proposed that the vaccination policy contain a personal exemption with appropriate safety measures, an exception for those working from home, that the vaccination should be provided on work time and free of charge, and other protections for our members.

UC management has refused to take Union concerns seriously, has refused to entertain the concept of a personal exemption, rejected our last proposal by refusing to make any changes to their policy, and dragged their feet on updating changes to the policy on their websites. The University has agreed to our proposal that telecommuters will not be required to be vaccinated. We meet again on Oct. 26 to address outstanding concerns.

Because of the University’s refusal to bargain in good faith on this issue, on Monday, October 19, the Union filed an unfair labor practice charge against the UC system with the State Public Employment Relations Board (PERB). On Tuesday, October 20, we filed a legal action in State Superior Court, requesting an injunction. We requested the injunction because the vaccination policy UC is attempting to implement would violate workers’ constitutional rights, and would violate state laws which provide certain employees the right to refuse the flu shot.

Today, in a legal case brought against UC by another organization, the Judge issued a tentative ruling that the Court needs additional time to review the matter and that the hearing is continued until Nov. 4. He further ordered that the UC shall not take adverse action against any employee or student who comes to campus who has not had a flu shot between now and when this court hears this matter.

In the meantime, workers who wish to receive the flu shot should do so and request time off if needed; those who object and wish to request an exemption should file for medical, religious and/or disability accommodation. Forms are available on campus websites.

If you work in the hospital, in specific skilled trades job classifications or at an Early Childhood Education center, you may wish to fill out a declination form. Specifically, Cal/OSHA regulations allow employees who work in hospitals and employees in some job classifications to decline the flu shot. UCOP has not agreed to recognize this declination form, but our Union will continue to fight for our members’ rights.

 

“Our members have many different views on vaccinations, and our Union stands for workers’ rights to make personal decisions over our own bodies and medical care.”
Jason Rabinowitz
Teamsters Local 2010 Secretary-Treasurer
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