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San Diego mandating COVID-19 vaccine for city workers as 'condition of continued employment'

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Posted at 10:26 PM, Aug 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-27 21:03:37-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — The City of San Diego will require all of its workers to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, citing the recent federal approval of the vaccine, according to the city.

In a letter sent to all city employees, workers will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and provide proof of vaccination by Nov. 2, 2021, "as a condition of continued employment."

"Due to the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis, and in light of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of the Pfizer vaccine on Aug. 23, 2021, the City of San Diego will now be requiring all City employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of continued employment," the letter read.

RELATED: Group of doctors urges San Diego County to require masks indoors, vaccines for bars and indoor dining

The city added that employees granted a medical or religious clearance would be the only ones exempted from the mandate. The letter went on in part to read:

"The City is not required to negotiate its decision to adopt the Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination Policy with its six recognized employee organizations (AFSCME Local 127, DCAA, Local 145, MEA, POA and Teamsters Local 911) under the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act prior to making the decision and is only required to negotiate over the impacts associated with the decision. The City is in ongoing negotiations with its recognized employee organizations over the impacts of adopting the Policy. All City employees (current and new hires) must be fully vaccinated and provide proof of full vaccination by completing the Mandatory Reporting of COVID-19 Vaccination Status in SAP by close of business on Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021, unless an alternative date is agreed to through the meet and confer process, or an employee requests a medical or religious exemption and a reasonable accommodation is granted."

The city's fire department union said San Diego's stance is supported, but the decision is disappointing and rushed:

"San Diego City Firefighters Local 145 supports the Mayor’s vision to protect the health of City workers and the public from COVID-19. We have and will continue to encourage our personnel to get vaccinated. We’re proud that over 80% of our firefighters have voluntarily received the COVID-19 vaccine to date. Like Mayor Gloria, we also support medical and religious exemptions for those who qualify. We are therefore disappointed by what we believe to be a premature communication from the City’s middle-management which lacks the necessary detail to seek these lawful exemptions. The recent letter was unnecessarily threatening to workers as it coupled a looming deadline with uncertainty. Despite this rushed communication, San Diego Firefighters Local 145 remains committed to working with City Leadership to find solutions. We intend to continue the meet and confer process so that we can obtain the answers that our dedicated workforce deserves."

ABC 10News reached out to the San Diego Police Officers Association for a response to the city's mandate. The head of the association says they are still in negotiations with the city and it's too early to comment.

Earlier this month, the city required workers to provide proof of vaccination. Unvaccinated employees have been required to wear masks while indoors or in shared spaces.

San Diego is the first major city in the county to issue a vaccine mandate for its city workers.