The Alaska Railroad, a State-owned corporation, has given all employees a mandate to be fully vaccinated by Dec. 8, or be terminated. Many workers are contemplating striking, sources say.
The Alaska Railroad required vaccination for all new employees hired after Sept. 15. The workforce is said to be 50 percent vaccinated, current employees told Must Read Alaska.
According to CEO Bill O’Leary, this notification will trigger union bargaining.
The letter to employees from O’Leary to Alaska Railroad employees:
From the start of the pandemic, ARRC has put a priority on maintaining a safe and healthy workplace. We’ve encouraged employees to follow guidance from public health experts regarding vaccination, but we haven’t mandated vaccination as some companies have done. Our employees have diverse and often deeply held views on this topic, and we respect those differences.
We are proud that we have stayed operational throughout the pandemic. We’ve kept trains moving and our business strong, while limiting workplace spread. Our people rose to the challenge, and we are thankful to each and every one of you. We appreciate all you do to serve our customers and communities.
Now the situation has changed. On Sept. 9th President Biden issued an Executive Order on Ensuring Adequate COVID Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors. The EO requires all employees associated with a federal contract to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to safeguard the health of employees and their families, customers and visitors, and the community at large.
Over the last six weeks, we’ve carefully reviewed additional EO guidelines and our interactions with federal agencies to determine if the Alaska Railroad is affected. We are. As a federal contractor, ARRC must meet this standard.
Bottom line: All Railroaders must be fully vaccinated by Dec. 8, 2021. Time is short, because full vaccination is achieved several weeks after receiving the vaccine shot(s).
We understand that for some employees this news will require a difficult decision. We don’t want anyone to leave the company because of this new mandate; yet, we do not have a choice. To disregard the EO could cause substantial legal, regulatory and financial harm to our organization, and ultimately, to our workforce.
Supervisors: Please share this notification with all employees immediately. Please print and post this notice on bulletin boards in break rooms and common areas. Please continue to share this information during your job / safety / staff meetings to ensure everyone is aware.
Meeting the Requirement
All employees must be fully vaccinated no later than Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021.
Reference the following schedule to meet the full vaccination requirement, based on vaccine type:
|Vaccine Type||1st shot no later than||2nd shot no later than||Fully vaccinated no later than|
|Johnson & Johnson||11/24/2021||N/A||12/8/2021|
· Employees may use paid administrative leave to get each dose. Be sure to coordinate with your supervisor to schedule time off to vaccinate by the date(s) noted above.
· Employees may use paid administrative leave to recover from any adverse reaction to the vaccine.
· If you have been vaccinated but have not yet provided proof of vaccination to Human Resources, please do so immediately. Scan or take a photo of your vaccination card, and email it to [email protected].
Who is Included?
All employees, including those working remotely, must meet the requirement.
· Represented Employees: We have notified union leadership as this triggers a union’s right to bargain regarding the effects of this requirement. Effects bargaining does not eliminate the vaccination requirement or alter the Dec. 8 deadline.
What if I don’t get vaccinated?
Exemptions. Employees can request an accommodation for a sincerely held religious belief or medical disability. To request an exemption, contact Human Resources as soon as possible, and no later than Nov. 24, 2021. Exemption requests involve an interactive process to determine if an accommodation can be granted without: A) causing undue hardship to ARRC; or B) posing a direct health-and-safety threat to others. If granted, accommodation may mean additional protocols that include, but are not limited to:
· weekly COVID-19 testing
· continued masking and social distancing even after the requirement is lifted for others
· inability to attend in-person events
· unpaid leaves of absence
Non-compliance: ARRC Employees who are not fully vaccinated on or before Dec. 8, 2021, and who do not have an approved exemption or who are not engaged in the process to seek an exemption, will no longer meet the requirements to continue employment with ARRC.
About the Vaccines
To better understand how the COVID-19 vaccines work to protect you, review this CDC Information.
Hundreds of millions of people around the globe have been vaccinated with one of the three available vaccines. The vaccines have been proven safe and effective against severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19.
Find a vaccination provider or event near you here.
Finally, whether you support the mandate or have concerns about vaccination, let’s continue rising to the challenge by showing each other the mutual respect we all deserve.