More than 92% of state employees comply with vaccine mandate

Posted

More than 92% of current state employees have complied with the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

As of Monday, the state has lost nearly 1,900 employees — or about 3% of it workforce — who left their jobs or were terminated due to the mandate. Most were fired, state data shows, but 191 quit or retired.

The remaining 4.6% of employees are in pending action, meaning they are in the process of being vaccinated, awaiting an accommodation decision, or pending retirement or separation, according to the Office of Financial Management.

State employees had until the end of the day Monday to submit their COVID-19 vaccination record or  lose their jobs. Those who had been awaiting an accommodation decision or had only received one dose of the vaccine by Monday could take up to a month of leave to receive the vaccine and still keep their position, assuming it has not yet been filled.

Monday's deadline followed months of protests and lawsuits from state employees who called for Gov. Jay Inslee to rescind the mandate. Among the most outspoken against the mandate were state troopers and corrections officers.

State troopers and corrections officer led a lawsuit of about 600 other state employees against the mandate. A Thurston County judge denied the effort in a ruling Monday, saying it was in the governor's authority to issue the mandate and that the plaintiffs failed to prove there was a likelihood of irreparable harm from refusing to take the vaccine.

As of Tuesday, the Washington State Patrol lost 127 of its 2,200 personnel due to the mandate.

Those employees include 53 civil servants and 74 commissioned officers, the patrol reported early Tuesday. The officers include 67 troopers, six sergeants and one captain.

Those numbers only include those who were separated from employment. Another 15 quit due to the mandate and another 17 retired due to the mandate, according to state data.

"We will miss every one of them," State Patrol Chief John R. Batiste said in a statement. "I extend a hardy thanks to those who are leaving the agency. I truly wish that you were staying with us."

Most of the patrol's geographic districts lost between nine or 10 troopers. The eastern most district, which includes Spokane, Whitman, Adams, Lincoln, Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille, lost 10 troopers.

The two central Washington districts lost only five commissioned personnel while the district encompassing Klickitat, Clark, Cowlitz, Skamania and Lewis counties lost the most — 14 .

The state patrol is working on contingency plans , according to a news release from the patrol. The agency will move resources "where necessary and specific personnel losses demand adjustment," according to the release.

The patrol will continue to work to fill three new academy classes in the coming months and will look to fill vacancies on the civilian side as soon as possible.

"We have the responsibilities of the agency to carry forward and I am not going to ask you to do more with less," Batiste said of those who decided to stay. "We shall do our very best to keep our remaining staff from becoming overburdened by these temporary losses."

As of Tuesday, the Department of Corrections lost about 350, or about 4.5%, of its employees, but the rate varies across facilities, spokesperson Rachel Ericson wrote in an email.

Airway Heights Corrections Center lost 21 people  and currently has a 93% vaccination rate. Coyote Ridge Corrections Center lost 30 people and currently has a 91% rate. The facility with the lowest vaccination rate is the state penitentiary in Walla Walla, which currently has an 89% vaccination rate. The facility lost 52 people, according to state data.

Family members of inmates have expressed concerns with contingency plans and possible lockdowns when the mandate went into effect.

"All facilities have adequate staffing for operations," Rachel Ericson said.

Other state agencies with some of the lowest vaccination rates include the Department of Children, Youth and Families centers, the Department of Social and Health Services facilities, Department of Veterans Affairs homes and Eastern State Hospital. All of their rates range are in the mid to high 80s.

Comments

No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here