WASHINGTON—The executive council of the American Federation of Teachers last night unanimously passed a resolution guiding the union on workplace vaccination policies. The resolution is one of several passed by the board since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, designed to protect the health and safety of AFT members and the communities we serve. It was brought to the council in light of the significant change in circumstances with the delta variant and rising COVID-19 cases, infections in children, and an ongoing effort by the union to educate members and communities on the importance of vaccination.
In response to the passage, AFT President Randi Weingarten said:
“Throughout this pandemic, our No. 1 priority as a union has been to keep our members, our communities and those we serve safe. COVID is mutating, it’s spreading to kids, and vaccines remain our best defense to protect people and prevent the spread of disease; prevent hospitals from overflowing; keep our economy functioning, plus reopen—and keep open—our schools for full-time in-person learning.
“The variant and ensuing rise in cases have changed the situation: More employers are considering vaccination policies, including mandates. And while we still believe the best way to increase vaccinations is through education and voluntary adoption, we want to be in a position to work with our employers on workplace vaccination policies, including how they’re implemented—so people who need to be vaccinated can get accommodations, so everyone has access to vaccines and time to get them, and so no one is penalized for medical or religious reasons. Moving forward, we will bargain the impact of these vaccination policies.
“We believe that workplace policies should be done with working people, not to them. In fact, several of our affiliates have already worked with elected officials, school districts and other employers on vaccine or test policies. This once-in-a-generation pandemic calls for us to work together to keep people safe and put COVID-19 behind us.
“As educators, healthcare professionals and public employees, we play an important role in our communities, and the overwhelming majority of us are vaccinated. We will continue to advocate for masking, testing, and accurate science-based information about vaccinations to combat the rampant disinformation that’s literally killing American people. Vaccines work. Vaccines are safe. And vaccines save lives.”