King County, unions reach agreement over vaccine mandate for county employees

King County and several unions have reached an agreement regarding a vaccine mandate for all county employees.

Back in August, King County Executive Dow Constantine issued an order that all executive branch employees must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18. 

The vaccine mandate would have impacted the Coalition of Unions, Technical Employees Association, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 77, the King County Corrections Guild, the King County Juvenile Detention Guild, the Washington State Nurses Association, and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 587. The groups represent 95% of the county’s workforce, according to the county.

Under the agreement, an employee who is unable to work due to side-effects of being vaccinated may use COVID leave while they recover, and the employee will be provided paid leave should they contract COVID.

RELATED: Unvaccinated firefighters in south King County won't be allowed to provide care to patients

Negotiations also established procedures for compliance and exemptions, according to the county. Under compliance processes, the agreement offers those who have not yet shown proof of full vaccination by Oct. 18 can avoid separation from the county provided they have begun the process for being fully vaccinated and can complete that process by Dec. 2. 

"Employees may make requests for a reasonable accommodation based on a medical disability or for sincerely held religious beliefs. The County will determine if the employee is eligible to be considered for an accommodation and if eligible, the County will determine if the employee can be safely accommodated," King County explained.

As of Sept. 21, 87% of King County employees have completed at least one dose of vaccine, with 80% already fully vaccinated in advance of the October 18 deadline.

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