President Ernest Garrett's Statement Regarding Vaccine Mandates

I have received a communication from AFSCME International President Lee Saunders concerning AFSCME's need to represent bargaining unit members who work for public employers that issue vaccine mandates. President Saunders acknowledges the "new sense of urgency to crushing this pandemic," and has pledged that our union "will address the impact on workers through bargaining to ensure that the front-line heroes of this pandemic are treated fairly."

I cannot agree more with this position. We have been battling for close to two years with a once-a-century worldwide pandemic that has killed over 4 million people - more than 600,000 in this country alone. Our members in District Council 33 have heroically continued to serve the public throughout this unprecedented crisis, in the face of the unprecedented threat to the lives and health of our members and their families. We realize many believe a vaccine mandate is the only way to save lives and prevent the immeasurable suffering COYID can cause. When and if the City of Philadelphia or any other employer of our Union's members issues a vaccine mandate, we will do as President Saunders has suggested: make sure our members are treated fairly in the ways and methods the city uses to carry out such a mandate, so it does not jeopardize worker safety and preserves the jobs of those members who, for religious and health reasons, are unable to be vaccinated.

Labor Unions exist to unify workers and safeguard their health and well-being, and the policy advocated by President Saunders - which we will follow - strikes the balance that unions have historically lived up to by protecting workers' rights while fighting to minimize unreasonable threats to their health and safety at their places of work. We owe it to our members to make sure they do not become the next casualties of the present global crisis we are struggling to overcome.

President Ernest Garrett

District Council 33