Vaccine Mandates, the Governor’s Executive Orders, and the New Contract Vaccines and WPEA Represented Employees
Since the pandemic began, the Governor has put in place various Executive Orders requiring employees to be vaccinated for Covid-19 – or to have a valid exemption from the vaccine, and an approved accommodation, in order to remain employed. WPEA does not have a contractual requirement for members to be vaccinated in Higher Education. The vaccine requirements have been the result of the Governor’s Executive Orders.
On November 1, 2022, those Executive Orders are expiring. When that happens, higher education employers are free to lift the vaccine requirements for employees. Some employees filling certain positions may still be required to be vaccinated, for example employees in positions funded by specific grants may continue to require vaccinated employees. As with other employers, higher education employers may decide to have certain rules and requirements that are stricter than what is required by law.
On July 1, 2023, the terms and conditions of the new Higher Education contract between the WPEA and the State of Washington will be in effect. All contracts are a compromise - there are contract changes we do like that go along with the changes that we do not like. The 2023 – 2025 Higher Education contract is no exception. This new contract, unlike our current contract, will require vaccination for Covid-19. To be clear, the Employer’s higher education bargaining team, which included representatives from colleges covered by our contract, insisted that the new contract include a vaccine requirement for employees. As bargaining was drawing to a close and your WPEA bargaining team was still refusing to agree to any vaccine requirement in the new contract, the bargaining team for the Employer (which includes the Employer’s representative from your college) insisted that the vaccine requirement for employees be tied to certain economic benefits. For example, the $1000 lump sum payment to employees who receive the Covid-19 booster would only be included in the contract if the vaccine requirement for employees was also included.
Your WPEA bargaining team including the classified staff from the various colleges deliberated and debated long, hard, and passionately on this choice. Not only was this a demand from the Employer in their last, best, and final offer, but your bargaining team understands that the overwhelming majority of our existing members are in fact fully vaccinated. Some unions walked away from the additional lump sum income for their members. WPEA’s bargaining team was not going to turn down additional income available to over 90% of our members if they choose to get a booster, despite other unions making the decision to deny their members that opportunity.
In the end, your bargaining team decided that the economic benefit to you as members who had already been under the vaccine requirement for more than two years, was too great to pass up. Your team decided to go with the economic payments on the table that the Employer’s team had made clear would only be available if a vaccine requirement was also included. Your team represented the interests of our existing members and WPEA members ratified this agreement by an overwhelming majority.
The administration of some colleges are stating that the WPEA required vaccinations in the new contract. To be clear, this is not true. The vaccine requirement was an Employer demand from the very beginning of negotiations. The only way your bargaining team could get the Employer to agree to a contract that did not include a vaccine mandate, was to agree to a contract with a lower economic package to our members. Your bargaining team is charged with negotiating the best possible contract for you as a member. The financial loss of this choice was not one that your bargaining team was willing to make.
If you have any questions about the new contract or vaccine requirements, please contact the local bargaining team member from your college or WPEA Contract Administration Director Amanda Hacker at firstname.lastname@example.org
Good day to you all,
Please be advised that due to limitations caused by a lack of quorum, the Executive Board meeting scheduled for this Saturday, October 29th, is cancelled. An emergency meeting on November 19th will be set to reschedule for this cancelled meeting. The Executive Board will ensure that all previously scheduled content is reviewed at that time. As for other meetings, please email WPEAEBMemberParticipation@wpea.org if you would like to give comment or suggestion at the next meeting. The union is YOU and your input in necessary for the Executive Board to make the decisions that best reflect and assist the membership.
I am writing today to share some updates about Eastern Gateway Community College (EGCC) and the UFCW Free College Program.
As you may remember, earlier this year, EGCC was forced to suspend the Free College Program by the Department of Education due to the Department’s belief that the Program violates Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965. In response, EGCC filed an injunction against the Department of Education to allow the Program to continue while it is under review. I am pleased to report that a judge granted the preliminary injunction meaning that EGCC will be opening enrollment for the Free College Program today, October 25th to current students.
While this is certainly great news for our members and their family members who are currently enrolled in the Program, we are still waiting for the Department of Education to issue a Final Program Review which will determine the ultimate future of EGCC’s Free College Program. Therefore, we are still asking local unions to continue to hold off promoting the Program as a benefit of union membership until we are more certain about its future. Local unions should feel free to notify existing students that they are eligible to enroll in the upcoming semester. Those students should go to EGCC’s website for more information: https://egcc.edu/union-inquiry-form/.
Please know that we remain determined to find a way to continue to make sure our members have access to the education programs they have earned and deserve.
Thank you for all you do to support our union family and we will continue to share updates with you as we receive them.
Sincerely and fraternally,
If you or someone you know applied for a 2022 WPEA Scholarship, we are asking those to forward their submission again. Please forward the email that was sent, to ensure the date stamp of your submission to email@example.com. Previously, our email system did not forward those emails, and we never received them. We apologize for any inconvenience and thank you for your hard work in preparing your scholarship information.
WPEA has decided to open a second round of scholarships for those that didn't apply during the first round. More information is to come this week - stay tuned!
Join our Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE) union siblings on September 13 in collective action!
Tomorrow, the Washington Federation of State Employees is taking to the I-5 overpass across the state to demand better working conditions and wages in their contracts. As a fellow Washington public sector union, our strength lies in solidarity. If you want to support labor and see change, join in!
By following the link at the location nearest you, you can identify the meetup location and help show strength in the Washington state labor movement. Start times are between 5:30 and 6:00 p.m., depending on the location.
For more information about the event, click here.
Help celebrate Labor Day with some great events around Washington! Click Here to View Events.
Come celebrate the working people in our area, and the victories we’ve seen in the past year. Bring the whole family for free food and refreshments, children’s entertainment, and most of all FUN and SOLIDARITY!
Tonight's steward training has been cancelled, due to lack of attendance. If you would like to attend the next training, make sure to check out your email for the invite.
OLYMPIA – People across Washington can now call 1-833-829-HELP for the latest information on Monkeypox virus (MPV). This call center is an expansion of DOH’s efforts to provide information to Washingtonians. Two weeks ago, DOH activated their Incident Management Team (IMT) to dedicate their time and efforts to the growing cases of MPV.
Through an ongoing partnership with Washington 211, call takers will answer questions about MPV risk factors, vaccine information, testing and treatment from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Monday, and 6:00 a.m.to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday and observed state holidays. In addition to calling 1-833-829-HELP, callers can continue to dial 1-800-525-0127 and press # to be transferred to a Washington 211 specialist. Language assistance is available in 240 languages. Call takers will not be able to schedule vaccine appointments.
“As we navigate the MPV outbreak in Washington state, we cannot underestimate the need for our community members to address their questions and concerns,” said Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH, Secretary of Health. “We are pleased to partner with 211 to meet this crucial need.”
The best thing you can do to protect yourself against MPV is to know the risks and take precautions. Despite misinformation, we want to be clear that anyone who has close contact with a person with an infectious rash can get MPV; it is not exclusive to any community. MPV can also spread through touching objects, fabrics and surfaces that have been used by someone with MPV, and contact with respiratory droplets during prolonged face-to-face contact. If you have an unexplained rash, cover it, avoid skin-to-skin contact with others, and see a health care provider. They will determine what testing and treatment may be available. If you’ve been exposed to someone with MPV, contact a health provider or your local health jurisdiction to discuss whether you are eligible for vaccination. More information is available on the Washington State Department of Health MPV information page.
It’s about time! The Freedom Foundation is finally taking the hint! WPEA was just informed that the Freedom Foundation has withdrawn their request for information on anyone in a WPEA represented position. None of your information will be released now. We know they may come back and ask again but that won’t change anything for us. They still can’t get your personal information no matter how many times they ask!
When the Freedom Foundation asks for your name and union affiliation, what do we tell them?
WPEA is hiring for a Staff Representative - Member Representation Specialist.
Washington Public Employees Association, UFCW Local 365
Staff Representative (Member Representation Specialist)
The Washington Public Employees Association is a public-sector labor union with approximately 4300 bargaining unit positions statewide. We represent classified employees in state government agencies, community colleges, and public library systems.
Staff Representatives are assigned a territory that includes bargaining units represented by WPEA across the state. This territory is subject to change. This position has a duty station in Olympia, Washington. The right applicant may be able to work remotely or at an alternative location approved by the WPEA President.
WPEA Staff Representatives are primarily responsible for member representation, member communication, and contract enforcement. Frequent travel is required, as well as long and irregular hours. Applicants should have experience as a union representative or human resources professional, preferably in the public sector. Applicants should possess strong computer skills and be comfortable using the Microsoft Office Suite applications such as Word, Excel and Outlook.
Typical activities include:
The successful candidate will be able to:
Please include a cover letter, resume and references when applying for this position. Your cover letter should include a brief explanation of how your skills and experience make you a strong candidate for the position. The salary range is $56,197 - $92,085 and placement depends on experience. Excellent benefits include health insurance, retirement account, and paid time off (holidays, exchange/flex time, vacation and sick leave). This position will remain open until filled.
Please email application materials to:
Contract Administration Director