(AP file photo)
A new draft directive from the Washington attorney general would require the department’s staff to be fully vaccinated and documented or dismissed on short notice. Purchased from the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH, the policy would apply even if the AG’s office maintained a telework option, according to a memo attached to the draft.
The draft memo makes the vaccine mandate effectively responsible for disabled and / or religious workers for the fact that they either cannot or do not want to be vaccinated. The impetus for the mandate is to protect these employees from COVID. Employees who fall into either of the two categories may seek accommodation, but it is not guaranteed. Volunteers and office visitors must follow the same guidelines.
The guideline is only a draft and has not been officially published or approved. It could go through significant changes or none at all.
But the mandate concerns employees who believe this is a dangerous overshoot by the government and will spread to other agencies. The draft comes weeks after Governor Jay Inslee vowed not to require vaccination records in the workplace. Instead, he would give employees the option to wear a mask.
Get vaccinated against COVID or be discharged
Vice Chairman Shane Esquibel alerted AGO staff to the draft on July 20, before staff return to the office in mid-September. The guideline aims to create “the safest environment for our employees”. It is dated September 13th.
The draft policy was emailed to staff for their contributions. The policy statement in the memo sets out a plan:
As we return to personal operations, we are particularly concerned about the health and safety of our employees and volunteers who are unable to receive the vaccine because of a disability or a genuine religious belief. The best way to ensure the safety of this and all AGO employees and volunteers, as well as the people with whom they are in contact [sic] Your task is to implement a guideline according to which all employees and volunteers of the AGO as a qualification for continued employment as well as all visitors to the AGO facilities are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and corresponding proof before returning to or entering the office .
The design allows employees, volunteers or visitors to request accommodation or change. You must either have a disability or a religious belief that opposes vaccination. However, requests for accommodation or changes are not guaranteed.
“Failure to achieve this qualification for service leads to the termination of the employment relationship,” warns the draft.
Proof of employability
The draft policy states that current employees must be fully vaccinated by September 13, the date the offices will reopen to staff and the public. New employees must be vaccinated before their start date. The note accompanying the draft states that you will need to get vaccinated even if the AGO continues their teleworking schedule.
If you have a sincere religious belief that precludes vaccination, the draft policy requires you to “participate in the interactive placement process and provide any information reasonably necessary to evaluate the application”.
Anyone with a disability that prevents them from receiving the vaccine “can request reasonable accommodation in accordance with AGO Guideline I.43 Appropriate Accommodation for People with Disabilities”.
If placement is granted, the worker must still wear a mask even though he is surrounded by vaccinated workers.
Show your papers to the AG
The draft guideline requires employees to provide evidence of their vaccination.
It requires a videoconference with a department manager or agent where the employees present evidence. Human resources would be required to maintain a system of tracking vaccination status. This is in line with the requirements for other Washington companies.
Visitors are not permitted to exit the lobby without proof of vaccination under this policy.
“Proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 is a CDC vaccination card, documentation from a health care provider, or a record from the state vaccination information system that shows that the employee, volunteer, selected candidate or visitor is fully vaccinated against COVID-19.” according to the draft.
Offices of AG Bob Ferguson and Jay Inslee weigh in – sort of
AG Bob Ferguson’s office did not answer most of the questions about the draft policy.
A Ferguson spokesman did not state whether the attorney general supports the written policy. No response was given when asked if there were concerns that the Office might lose staff if it were to impose the mandate. How does the fact that the FDA did not fully approve the vaccines play into this draft? The speaker didn’t answer.
However, the office confirmed that it had notified the Inslee office and union partners of the policy. The spokesman also noted that “we may have employees who cannot receive the COVID-19 vaccine due to persistent illness or disability”.
Inslee’s office adopted a dismissive and aggressively defensive tone when asked.
When asked whether Inslee endorses the draft directive or whether he thinks the same mandate should apply to other offices (including his own), spokesman Mike Faulk refused to respond.
Faulk claimed I had not read the policy (I did) and claimed my interpretation of the policy was wrong (it wasn’t). Instead, Faulk labeled my questions “irrelevant” and argued that the adjustments or changes in the policy would not contradict Inslee’s earlier statements.
“This does not change or contradict anything the governor said earlier,” wrote Faulk via email to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.
Inslee’s office previously said the governor was not considering vaccine mandates. It seems that he has given up that position.
The governor also claimed he did not endorse vaccination certificates. Still, Washington state public universities mandate vaccinations for students and staff to return to class. Inslee has also encouraged companies to refuse service to unvaccinated customers. And in the AG office, Inslee will not judge them if this policy is implemented as written.
Will this policy spread?
AGO employees can provide feedback on the policy before it is finalized and implemented. But some believe that this will be the last policy.
In the meantime, rumors have spread far beyond the AGO.
A Washington State Department of Health employee told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH that two senior officers had told him that mandatory vaccinations were required for all government employees.
Does Inslee assist government agencies prescribing vaccines under threat of discontinuation? Are there any plans to implement similar policies in any government agency or office? The Inslee spokesman refused to answer.
Inslee’s unwillingness to comment on whether or not the draft directive will be extended to other departments could play a role in the rumors.
Draft COVID-19 Vaccination Policy 2021 by Jason Rantz on Scribd
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