Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Local 94 has received a notice from PSE&G that has requested Local 94 engage in bargaining over the Company’s announced intentions to mandate that every Local 94 bargaining unit employee provide proof of having been vaccinated. The Company has already mandated that all non-union employees, supervisors, and managerial employees provide proof of vaccination.
Local 94 is preparing to meet and bargain with the Company over the terms and conditions regarding vaccination and wearing masks. Union leadership is currently drawing up proposals to address both the employees who are concerned with being compelled to be vaccinated, as well as to balance the interests and rights of co-employees who do not want to work side-by-side with any employee who is not vaccinated.
The U.S. Department of Labor, through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, has declared that a private sector employer does not violate the law if the Employer issues a requirement that its employees, as a condition of continued employment, provide proof of vaccination. Several Local 94 members have also questioned if the Company violates HIPAA privacy rights (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) by asking an employee if the employee has been vaccinated. Once again, the government has stated that being vaccinated is a “status,” not a question concerning an employee’s medical condition, and thus is not a violation of HIPAA privacy.
The Union has some concerns regarding rumors in the industry or at other companies that one or several employees have been contemplating the purchase of fraudulent vaccination certificates and providing such certificates to the company. There are several very serious problems with providing a fraudulent certificate. If this were to occur at PSE&G, first, the Company will declare it to be fraud, and thus a violation of the Ethical and Integrity Standards, and will most likely result in severe discipline, and perhaps discharge. Similarly, as the Company has in the past made a payment of four (4) hours pay for the time to get vaccinated, if the employee accepted the four hours of pay and did not actually get vaccinated, this would constitute a theft of pay, and thus can be expected that the Company will take action alleging a violation of the Ethical and Integrity Standards, which will most likely result in severe discipline, and perhaps discharge. The Union has also received notice from the Company that it intends to enforce the requirement that employees who were paid time off for getting the vaccination to present proof of actually getting vaccinated, and if not provided, may take action to take back the money as well as enforce the vaccination requirement. There is legitimate cause for concern as the Company has several different resources available to independent check whether an employee who claims to have been vaccinated was in fact vaccinated.
If you have made a mistake in your representations to the Company, it would be important to correct the mistake. Your Union may be able to help in this regard. If you made a mistake and seek to take action in correcting the mistake, please contact your Local 94 Business Representative.
Scott M. Campbell, Pres./Bus. Mgr. IBEW94