Vaccine Policy Negotiations Reach Impasse
Yesterday, the Union bargaining committee met for a third time with Allina about their proposed mandatory COVID-19 vaccine policy. While we made some progress in bargaining there were three items on which Allina management informed our Union they could not agree and would need to consider with Allina leadership. Those three items were:
- The implementation date of the policy (our Union proposed November 1, rather than October 1). Our proposal would give us time to educate members about the final policy and exemption processes. Many of our members speak English as a second language, have limited or no access to computers at work, or were waiting for the outcome of negotiations to make a decision on how to proceed. In addition, some members have been unable to secure appointments for the vaccine through Occ Health. Ultimately, we believed that 32 hours-notice to comply with a policy after bargaining was simply unreasonable.
- We proposed that exemption requests would be handled anonymously, like other employers have agreed to do. Allina refused handle exemption requests anonymously even while acknowledging that the committee members reviewing exemption requests could know some of the individuals who submitted requests,
- We proposed that the employer agree to a paid administrative leave day (and not to deduct from our PTO or sick leave accounts) time off due to reactions after the first does of a vaccine. Allina refused and insisted on deducting the time from our members’ accounts. Allina agreed to paid administrative leave after a second dose or booster shot only.
At 4pm Allina’s VP of Labor Relations called to inform us they would not agree to these provisions which we considered important to an agreement on the policy and declared impasse. Allina leadership informed us that they would impose the final proposal on our members on Friday October 1, 2021.
A copy of the final version of the employer’s proposal which they are imposing on us, are available here:
The final proposal includes agreement on our members’ ability to request medical and religious exemptions only. While we initially proposed a policy like Mayo Clinic has adopted which includes a broader ability for current employees to decline a vaccine there were three things that led us to agree to a more limited exemption process under the policy. First, many members expressed support for a more limited exemption process. Second, the Biden Executive Order on exemptions is almost certain to only include medical and religious exemptions and our union is preparing to revisit the policy with a broader declination program. And third, our member’s experience with the proposed exemption policies showed that Allina was agreeing to almost all of our members’ requests and we had very few disagreements or denials on our member requests. As a result we were fully prepared and did agree to the policy sections related to exemptions. However we feel the final three items were very important and disagree with the declaration of impasse.
What does the declaration of impasse mean?
Allina, by declaring impasse, has indicated it will implement its policy without the agreement of our Union. They believe they have the right to do so under the law and believe they can win any challenge to its policy through the grievance process. The Union, for our part, will be filing a grievance over the policy implementation date and the differences in our positions. We believe it is unreasonable to expect our members to comply with a policy with less than 32 hours-notice of the conclusion of negotiations or a declaration of impasse.
What is next for members?
All members who have received the vaccine or an exemption are already in compliance with the policy and do not need to take any action.
All members who have not yet received a COVID 19 vaccine or requested an exemption need to do so right away! If you need help scheduling an appointment for a vaccine, contact Occupational Health. If you need help submitting a request for an exemption please connect with your supervisor or a union steward or call our Union’s member action center at (651) 294-8100 for assistance
If you receive a denial of an exemption request or a corrective action for non-compliance with the policy please contact your steward or the Member Action Center for assistance. The employer has agreed in its final proposal to rescind any corrective actions that a member receives under this policy so long as members ultimately comply with the policy under their timelines. We encourage all members to either get the vaccine or submit an exemption request while we process our grievance on the timeline and differences of position.