What is the language that was bargained regarding the Covid booster incentive? The language in the General Government ratified agreement is: “Employees who choose to be boosted, at a location of their choosing, and voluntarily provide their Employer with proof of up-to-date COVID-19 booster vaccination which must include any boosters recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at the time proof is provided to the Employer, between January 1, 2023, and December 31, 2023, shall receive a one thousand dollar ($1,000) one-time lump sum payment to be paid no earlier than July 25, 2023..”
The language in the Higher Education, including Highline College and Yakima Valley College, ratified agreements is: “Employees who choose to be boosted, at a location of their choosing, and voluntarily provide their employer with proof of up-to-date COVID-19 vaccination, to include any boosters recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) at the time proof is provided to the employer, between January 1, 2023, and December 31, 2023, shall receive a one thousand dollar ($1000.00) one-time lump sum payment to be paid no earlier than July 25, 2023.” Do I need to have had all the boosters that have been available until now, or just the latest booster?
What happens if the CDC changes its recommendations? If you have already submitted for the booster incentive and were up-to-date with the booster as recommended by the CDC at the time, you are eligible for the booster incentive. You do not need to do anything else. If you have not yet submitted for the booster incentive and the CDC changes its recommendations, you will have to comply with the new recommendations to receive the incentive. When can I apply for the booster incentive? Any time between January 1, 2023, and December 31, 2023.
How do I apply for the booster incentive? Each agency or college will have their own forms and process for applying for the booster incentive. Ask your HR department for their process for showing proof of your booster vaccination. This process should already be available and HR should be accepting proof at all times between January 1, 2023, and December 31, 2023. If your HR department does not have a process available, you should document the fact that you are up-to-date with the current CDC booster recommendations and that you are requesting the process to apply for the incentive. This should be done in writing – ideally this would be done by emailing HR and retaining a copy of that email for your records. If your Employer is not currently accepting proof of booster vaccination status, they are in violation of our contract, please also contact your staff representative to let them know.
When will I get paid the $1000 Covid booster incentive lump sum? While members may apply for the incentive payment at any time they are up-to-date with the CDC recommended booster in the 2023 calendar year, the Legislature has not yet funded the incentive payment. This should be funded as of July 1, 2023. Members who have completed the verification process before July 1st should be paid the incentive on the pay date including the first pay period in July, which will be July 25, 2023. Members who complete the application process after July 1st will be paid the incentive lump sum when their payroll department processes the verification. In order to receive the incentive, you must be employed in a bargaining unit position at the time the incentive is paid out. If you provide proof prior to July 1, 2023, and leave employment before the incentive is funded in July, you will not receive the lump sum incentive.
What happens if I have a medical or religious exemption from the Covid vaccine or I have a condition that prevents me from having the current recommended booster? The contract language ratified by the membership requires members to have the current CDC recommended booster in order to receive the covid booster incentive lump sum. Unless the CDC recommendations include different recommendations for certain qualifying conditions, the booster incentive is not payable without receiving the recommended vaccine. At the time of this writing, the CDC does not have separate recommendations for people with different conditions, and only have recommendations for boosters based upon age.
What if I have other questions about the Covid booster incentive, problems applying for the Covid booster incentive with my employer, or problems receiving payment for the Covid booster incentive? Contact the WPEA Staff Representative assigned to your agency or college. Staff representative assignments can be found on the WPEA website at www.wpea.org.
How do we make further progress in getting better contract language and better wage incentives in the future? While your bargaining teams were fighting for much more in our last round of contract negotiations, your bargaining teams were able to bring back, and you the membership voted on and ratified, the contract with the largest wage packages ever in the history of collective bargaining with the State, for both General Government agencies and Higher Education. Further progress requires more resources. The WPEA is already planning for the next round of negotiations and we’d like to have more resources to devote not only to future contract negotiations but enforcement of our current contract. If you are not a member of the union, you can join with the membership application at this link: https://www.wpea.org/join.html. If you would like to volunteer as a point of communication, as a member leader, or as a shop steward in your work area, contact your WPEA Staff Representative. The union’s power and influence depends on the numbers and level of activism of its membership. Become active for you and your coworkers in your work area!