Illinois unions reach agreement with state on vaccinations

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THE ILLINOIS NURSES ASSOCIATION and Illinois Federation of Public Employees have reached an agreement with the state on mandatory vaccinations. – Ted S. Warren/Chicago Sun Times photo

Springfield, IL – More than a thousand Illinois union employees will be covered for COVID-19 vaccinations in a new agreement between their unions and the state government.

The agreement covers about 1,100 members of the Illinois Nurses Association and 160 employees in the Human Services and Veterans’ Affairs department.

The employees were set to receive first-shot vaccinations by Oct. 14. For two-dose vaccines, the second shot will be made by Nov. 18.

The nurses work in residential facilities including McFarland Mental Health Facility, Quincy Veterans’ Home and Jacksonville Correctional Center, a state news release said. The agreement includes disciplinary measures for covered employees who do not get vaccinated, although they can seek exemptions because of medical issues or religious beliefs.

THIRD AGREEMENT
“Vaccinations are helping to keep our schools and businesses open, protecting our children, our workers and our customers from getting sick with this deadly virus,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said. “We’ve now reached three agreements to ensure the workers at our congregate facilities will be taking the most powerful action they can by getting vaccinated to keep themselves and the residents they serve safe.

“I’m proud to reach these agreements, and applaud the Illinois Nurses Association and Illinois Federation of Public Employees for working to keep our state safe. Millions more residents are being called to do their part, and I thank President Biden for his leadership in rallying employers to keep people healthy.”

Illinois reached the first union agreement on Sept. 20, covering 260 supervisory employees in the Department of Corrections and the Department of Juvenile Justice, after Pritzker said all workers in state-run congregate facilities must be vaccinated, subject to bargaining. Negotiations with other unions are continuing.

The employees will receive an additional personal day, and if the vaccine is not available during an employee’s regular shift, the employee may be compensated at their regular pay for the time taken to receive the vaccine.

IT’S ABOUT SERVICE
“We believe that this agreement provides options for employees while offering them a way to do what they are committed to – providing excellent service to the citizens of Illinois,” said Matt Emigholz, president of Illinois Federation of Public Employees Local 4408.

The state has set up 25 mass vaccination sites, and the Illinois National Guard has had more than 800 mobile vaccination clinics and 1,705 state-supported mobile sites.

All Illinois residents over the age of 12 are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at no cost, and proof of immigration status is not required. To find a vaccination center, go online to vaccines.gov.


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