State police union sues over governor's vaccination mandate

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The union that represents about 1,800 Massachusetts State Police troopers went before a judge Wednesday asking for a delay in the implementation of Gov. Charlie Baker’s state employee coronavirus vaccine mandate.

The union’s lawsuit filed last week asks for the delay so the union can “negotiate the terms and conditions of their employment.”

An attorney for the State Police Association of Massachusetts told the judge that Baker’s Oct. 17 deadline is arbitrary and made bargaining impossible. He argued that because of the timing required between shots, unvaccinated troopers would need to schedule their first of the two-dose Pfizer vaccine by Sunday in order to comply.

About 20% of Massachusetts State Troopers are not vaccinated.

He said about 20% of troopers are not yet vaccinated.

At attorney for the state said the administration has to have the ability to set a deadline and argued that troopers can still get the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine to be in compliance.

The judge did not rule in the matter.

Baker, at a separate news conference Wednesday, said the mandate is intended to protect the public, and he expects the suit to be resolved amicably.

The union also asks that troopers who choose not to get vaccinated, or who have already had COVID-19, be allowed to instead wear a mask on the job and undergo weekly coronavirus testing.

The union is also asking for “presumptive protection” for troopers who get sick from COVID-19 or the vaccine. The union wants any coronavirus-related injury or death to “automatically be considered a line-of-duty injury,” which would come with additional benefits for members.

Baker announced last month that 42,000 state workers and contractors in the executive branch are required to be vaccinated, be granted a legitimate exemption or face disciplinary action up to and including termination.

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