City of Seattle Reaches Tentative Agreements with Coalition of City Unions, Seattle Fire Fighters Union Local 27 and IBEW Local 77 Regarding Vaccine Requirement, COVID-19 Frontline Worker Pay, and Return to Worksite

Tentative Agreements Establish New Policies to Support City Employees, Including Frontline Worker Pay and a Vaccination Incentive

SEATTLE (September 24, 2021) – Mayor Jenny A. Durkan today announced that the City of Seattle has reached Tentative Agreements (TA) with the Coalition of City Unions, Fire Fighters Union Local 27 and IBEW Local 77 regarding the vaccination requirement for City employees, COVID-19 Frontline Worker Pay, and the return to worksite timeline for approximately 35% of employees who continue to work remotely. On August 9, Mayor Durkan announced that – in alignment with State of Washington and King County employment policies – all City of Seattle employees must be fully vaccinated as a condition of employment by October 18, 2021. For weeks, the City has been bargaining the impacts of the vaccination requirement in good faith with all City Unions to create uniform policies and processes across the City. The tentative agreements are a significant step and include several new personnel measures to support City employees, particularly frontline workers.

“Since the pandemic touched down in Seattle, our officers, firefighters and frontline workers have worked day in and day out to provide nation-leading testing, vaccination, and relief programs for our residents. Those efforts are a key reason we have one of the highest vaccination rates, and lowest cases and hospitalizations of every major American city,” said Mayor Durkan. “But as the Delta variant spreads, it’s crucial that we take bold, science-based actions to protect our workforce, our families, and the communities we serve. A vaccination requirement and frontline worker pay is the right thing to do to for our workforce. Our unions advocated hard for our workers, and I’m grateful for the efforts to reach these Tentative Agreements that put forward new policies to protect the health, safety, and vitality of our workforce.”

“Worker safety and certainty are of paramount importance, and the unions involved with these negotiations centered those concerns throughout a complex and time-sensitive process,” said Shaun Van Eyk, PROTEC17 Union Representative and Coalition of City Unions Co-Chair. “We believe that these two tentative agreements honor the essential, public-sector workers whose work could not be performed remotely, and create clear, transparent, and equitable pathways for all City workers with respect to the vaccine mandate. While both agreements took a great deal of time and effort to reach, the outcome is unquestionably worth it for the health and safety of our union members, their families, and our communities.

“Supporting City employees as they show up to work during this pandemic is critical to helping us maintain a safe, diverse, equitable, and progressive workforce,” said Interim Human Resources director Kimberly Loving. “Over the past few months, the Coalition of City Unions, Seattle Fire Fighters Local 27 and IBEW Local 77 have worked tirelessly with my fellow City colleagues to achieve these Tentative Agreements with each employee in mind.”

The first TA is regarding the vaccination requirement for City employees highlights include:

  • Incentive Time: Each employee who submits their Vaccination Confirmation Form on or before October 5 showing they will be fully vaccinated by October 18, 2021 will receive eight hours of paid time off.
  • COVID-19 Supplementary Paid Leave: Each employee will receive 40 hours of a new COVID-19 Supplementary Paid Leave for COVID-19-related reasons. Each employee who confirms  full vaccination by October 18, 2021, will receive an additional 40 hours of the new COVID-19 Supplementary Paid Leave for a total of 80 hours.
  • Confirmation, exemption, accommodation and separation processes: It establishes agreements on processes and employment status with the goal to achieve employees being fully vaccinated as a priority, which include employees who can begin the vaccination process by October 18 and use applicable leave until they become fully vaccinated.

The second TA establishes Frontline Worker Pay for employees who were on payroll on or after August 1, 2021 and performed work in-person during the pandemic. Workers will be eligible for up to a $1,750 one-time payment. Additionally, this TA provide additional flexibility for eligible employees who voluntarily choose to telework until January 19, 2022, unless there is a business need for their return.

These TAs also establishes the City’s intent to apply the vaccine requirement to contractors and vendors who physically report to a City worksite or work in close proximity with City employees. The City values all of our City employees and the work they have performed throughout the pandemic and wanted to provide uniformity for all affected employees. While the City reached a TA with nearly every City Union, including the Seattle Police Management Association (SPMA), the City has not yet reached an agreement with Seattle Police Officers’ Guild (SPOG). SPOG continues to bargain separately since the parties have not been able to reach agreement at this time.

As of September 24, 83.5 percent of eligible Seattle residents have begun the vaccination series. Data from Public Health – Seattle & King County shows that vaccines are highly effective at preventing serious illness, hospitalizations, and deaths caused by COVID-19. Residents who are not fully vaccinated are 41 times more likely to be hospitalized and 42 times more likely to die from COVID-19 related illness than fully-vaccinated individuals.

Now that the City has reached TAs with the Coalition of City Unions representing 23 labor agreement including Seattle Police Management Association, IBEW Local 77 representing 6 labor agreements and IAFF Local 27, the Mayor’s Office will transmit legislation to the City Council to authorize frontline worker pay next week. The City respects the bargaining process and understands that these TAs may be subject to a vote of union members and the city council.