PUD to Require Covid-19 Vaccine for Employees
Citing the need to comply with state mandates and to safeguard the health of employees, their families, customers, and the community at large, Jefferson County PUD General Manager Kevin Streett said the PUD is in the process of developing a COVID-19 vaccination requirement for all employees.
Streett said the final decision was made in response to both the rapid spread of the Delta variant and the issuance of Proclamation 21-14-1 – COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement by Governor Inslee. The Proclamation prohibits state agencies from permitting contractors “to engage in work for the agency if the personnel performing the contract (including subcontractor personnel) have not been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as set forth in the Proclamation.”
“The PUD currently has contracts with WSDOT,” said Streett, “and, as part of the performance of that contract, our personnel are subject to the vaccination requirements.” While some PUD employees, particularly office workers, would not be subject to the requirements of the Proclamation, Streett said after consulting with management and labor union representatives, the decision was made to have a single policy covering everyone working at the PUD.
Though the state deadline for compliance with the vaccine requirement was set for October 18th, Streett told both staff and PUD’s Board of Commissioners during their October 4th Regular Meeting that the PUD would not be able to meet it. Streett said discussions were still underway with both the Laborers Union (who represent water and customer service staff) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) who represent electrical and warehouse staff. Though Streett said there was no dispute with the unions about the need for compliance, they were bargaining over details of the implementation
Streett also told staff and the commission that employees in need of an exemption due to a medical reason, or because of a sincerely held religious belief would be able to submit a Request for Accommodation. As the PUD’s Covid-19 vaccination policy is not complete, exemption and accommodation forms have not been distributed.
“The PUD is in the process of developing a policy to comply with the State’s Proclamation and is engaging with the labor unions in partnership to create a path forward. We will be providing more information as the policy and timelines are finalized,” said Streett.