800+ Boston City Workers Were Suspended Over Vaccine Mandate; 600+ Remain Noncompliant

The city said the employees either did not get the COVID-19 vaccine or are not compliant with weekly testing

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More than 800 people who work for Boston were suspended without pay Tuesday for failing to comply with the city’s coronavirus vaccine mandate by the deadline, city officials said.

The city said the roughly 812 people either had not provided proof of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine or were not compliant with weekly testing. Mayor Kim Janey's office said Wednesday evening that number was down to 637.

"The number of people out of compliance dropped, as more employees verified their vaccination or negative test result," Janey's office said in a statement.

Some of those on unpaid leave are Boston school employees. Janey's office said they have backup plans in place for bus transportation and other school operations to make sure the day goes smoothly.

The Janey administration gave an update Wednesday saying that some employees had verified they are vaccinated or had tested negative in the past day, and that employees who do back into compliance can be paid for the day's work, when they return.

The city has only released compliance numbers for employees in Phase 1, which includes those working for Boston Public Schools, Boston Centers for Youth & Families, Boston Public Libraries, Age Strong Commission and Commission on Disabilities.

More than 800 of Boston's 18,000 city workers in Boston are on unpaid leave for not complying with the city's vaccine mandate.

The vast majority of Boston school employees are compliant with the city's vaccine mandate, however.

"We are glad to share that close to 99% of our teachers have successfully complied with the vaccine and testing mandate," said Jessica Tang, president of the Boston Teachers Union. "The union continues to provide support to those who need assistance with the verification process."

She said the union has also established a recurring vaccine clinic at its union hall in Dorchester for union members and families as well as the general public.

Janey announced in August that the city’s roughly 18,000 employees would be required to either show proof of vaccination by Tuesday, or, if they do no want to get a shot, submit to regular testing. Last week, 1,400 were told they were not in compliance.

All city employees, contractors and city volunteers have to be compliant by next week.

The city did not break down the suspensions by department or reveal what is being done to deal with the staffing shortfalls.

“We are now implementing contingency plans for bus transportation and other school operations impacted by employee leaves of absence, due to unverified vaccination or testing,” the mayor’s office said in a statement Tuesday. “We continue to work closely with our diverse workforce, and our union partners, to ensure employees have access to vaccination, testing and verification systems to comply with the mandate.”

Suspended employees can return to work by providing proof of a negative test, the mayor's office said.

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