Earlier this month, we received the long-awaited decision from Arbitrator Steven Rutzick regarding our system-wide/all affected grievance challenging Allina’s mandatory flu vaccination policy. By adopting that policy, Allina unilaterally made being vaccinated every year a condition of employment. It is the position of our Union locally and nationally that the flu vaccine is safe and we highly recommend all SEIU members be vaccinated voluntarily when they are medically able to do so. It is also the position of our Union locally and nationally that forcing flu vaccination on employees (making it a condition of employment) is not reasonable given the vaccine’s effectiveness rate and the related scientific analysis in leading medical publications. We also believe that it is counterproductive to the promotion of public health to have mandatory flu vaccination policies because making a less effective vaccine mandatory undermines confidence in our public health system overall. In this context, and consistent with our ongoing commitment to promoting public health, we fully support mandatory vaccination when a vaccine is proven to be highly effective over time.
This is our first arbitration decision regarding vaccination to be issued since the COVID-19 pandemic, and we are pleased that the arbitrator sustained our grievance after carefully considering the numerous arguments in support of our position as well as Allina’s arguments. When explaining his ruling in our favor, the arbitrator wrote that “mandatory vaccination with regard to the flu vaccine is an overreach” and then concluded that the “Union’s position and grievance must be sustained. . . .”
Thanks to EVP Brenda Hilbrich and Member Leader Larry Schindler for their diligent work in support of the grievance and in the arbitration. The decision impacts all Allina employees represented by SEIU covered by the grievance and related arbitration award, including the new groups added to the existing Allina bargaining units. If any other employer were somehow to attempt to impose a mandatory flu vaccination policy, we would challenge that policy based on the medical data, the scientific analysis, the contractual language, and the related labor law arguments on which we successfully relied in this case.