The union coalition representing state employees wants a 20 day extension on Gov. Ned Lamont’s mandate to get vaccinated or submit to testing.
State employees have until Oct. 4 at noon to get their paperwork to the administration attesting to their vaccination status. Lamont initially implemented the vaccination or testing mandate last month.
An estimated 8,000 were out of compliance and the National Guard has been asked to step in to help with any staffing shortages that may result.
“As a nurse, I care deeply about the well-being of our patients. We are appalled at Governor Lamont’s failure to take responsibility for staffing shortages accelerated by his administration’s failure to fill critical vacancies,” Damien Nuzzo, a nurse clinical instructor at Connecticut Valley Hospital, said Friday. “Governor Lamont wants to send replacement workers as substitutes for long-term caregivers who have years of rapport with these clients. This is a blatant abuse of power.”
The vaccine has been widely available since April and the executive order to make sure all health care workers were vaccinated has been in place since August.
The State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition said it requested an extension on Sept. 22. The deadline for compliance was extended from Sept. 27 to Oct. 4. But the administration says no formal request to extend it past Oct. 4 has been made.
Max Reiss, a spokesman for Lamont, said there’s no intention to extend it further.
“We are confident that everyone who is working to come into compliance will be able to do so by Monday evening,” Reiss said. “The week long grace period the governor announced earlier this week was to ensure everyone had plenty of time to get vaccinated, get tested or clear up issues with their submissions.”
The union says compliance has not been easy.
Many workers like Robert Doty, a maintainer from the Department of Transportation, were placed on the non-compliance list despite endless attempts to demonstrate compliance with the governor’s Executive Order by filing the appropriate paperwork.
“This mandate has created unnecessary stress, I’ve tried to do everything in my power to comply. But I could be put out on leave on Tuesday. This arbitrary deadline from Governor Lamont has created extreme anxiety and confusion across all agencies, for employees who came to work every day during the pandemic,” Doty, a member of the Connecticut Employees Union Independent, SEIU Local 511, said.
CSEA President Steve Anderson, an environmental analyst in the Department of Agriculture, said he’s also being put on the non-compliance list.
“I’m fully vaxxed and submitted my information months ago. But the State keeps telling me I am not in compliance,” Anderson said. “The governor plans to disrupt services and put soldiers to work in state worksites when the real problem is short staffing combined with a poorly executed compliance system.”
The union says it doesn’t plan to issue any more statements until Monday, Oct. 4 after the deadline.