COVID Vaccine Mandate for Worcester City Workers Goes Into Effect

City workers in Worcester, Massachusetts, are now required to show proof of vaccination or undergo weekly testing for COVID-19

NBC Universal, Inc.

With Worcester's COVID-19 vaccine mandate now in effect, the city's 7,300 employees are required to show proof of vaccination or undergo weekly testing.

Under the mandate, city employees who refuse to provide proof of vaccination or get tested will be charged their vacation time and then put on unpaid leave for up to 30 days.

"There's just layers and layers and layers of complications that go with this mandate," said Roger Nugent, president of the Educational Association of Worcester.

After 30 days, those workers could be terminated — which the educators' union says would be problematic with staff stretched so thin.

"District-wide, we're down 100 teachers, we're down 90 instructional assistants," said Nugent. "I don't know how they're going to afford to lose one."

"By getting everybody vaccinated, we're going to reduce the number of people who are out, not increase the number of people out," City Manager Edward Augustus argued.

Unions for police and educators argue the testing should be done during work hours, on site if possible, and the city needs to ensure it will remain free.

Augustus says the answer to that is to get vaccinated and not have to worry about it.

"If you're going to test every week, we're not going to pay you to go get tested every week, you've chosen not to get vaccinated," Augustus said.

Richard Cipro, president of Worcester IBPO Officials Union Local 504, says unions representing both Worcester Police officials and officers plan to file unfair labor practice grievances to try to get the city to negotiate these important points of contention.

"We want to work with the city on this to protect our officers and our families and the citizens at large, however, this is subject of — a mandatory subject of bargaining because of the changes of working conditions," Cipro said.

Augustus says his administration met with several collective bargaining units and made some changes based on their suggestions.

Contact Us