City, Unions Meet and Confer Process for COVID-19

By: 
Stephen Downing

On Sept. 3 the City of Long Beach issued an official statement that the meet and confer process with all city employee labor associations has been concluded and that “effectively immediately, all city employees who are not fully vaccinated or have not disclosed proof of vaccination status will be required to test weekly for COVID-19.”

The report stated that the city has decided to move forward with a similar model used by the state as was announced last month.

According to the announcement “The city has invested significant time and effort into providing vaccine opportunities for city staff”… and that employees … “are able to use city time to get vaccinated and it is easy, safe and free to do so.”

The report said “Since the beginning of January, “the city has held 35 targeted clinics for our employees, with 27 dedicated specifically to public safety personnel…”

The Sept. 3 announcement published the exact same data published by the city on July 27 and reported by the Beachcomber on the same day, (https://beachcomber.news/content/covid-19-mandate-city-manager-will-not-use-emergency-powers) which said, “Based on the data gathered from earlier employee self-attestation submissions, more than 4,000 city employees are fully vaccinated with less than 1,600 city employees who are not vaccinated or prefer not to disclose their status. The attestation data show 72% of all city employees are fully vaccinated.”

What was reported on July 27 and not included in the Sept. 3 report is that only 58% of sworn fire employees and 52% of sworn police employees were vaccinated.

This breakout sworn police and fire data was identified in the July 27 report as being part of a “log updated 10 a.m. 7/27/21.”

Because the Sept. 3 report did not include the sworn police and fire data the Beachcomber asked a spokesperson from the city manager’s office (Joint Information Task Force) for an update, stating, “It seems only reasonable that effective oversight would produce daily reports so as to measure the impact of education and leadership capabilities of the underperforming departments.”

The spokesperson replied: “the self-attestation report as of July 27 remains our most up-to-date information. The city is still in the process of updating and verifying vaccination data. Once complete we will have an updated report.”

Police and fire employees in other cities across the country are actively opposing vaccination mandates. Some vocally as exampled by LAFD Fire Captain Cristian Granucci, who commutes to work from Texas.

Granucci was quoted in an LA Times column by Steve Lopez as saying the Los Angeles vaccination/testing mandate “equated with tyranny” and said, “My head could pop.” Lopez also reported that Granucci was reported as saying, “I moved to Texas for a reason. For the freedoms that it offers.”

The income tax rate in Texas is zero. Transparent California reports that Granucci’s total 2019 income was $346,047, including health and pension benefits.

According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, the State of Texas has the highest number of Law Enforcement personnel who have died from COVID-19 in the United States.

Fire Rescue 1, a webpage supported by Lexipol reports a total of 97 firefighters across the country have died from COVID-19 and states, “as COVID-19 continues to spread around the country the first responders on the front lines are increasingly vulnerable to contracting the virus and the death toll includes a significant number of fire service personnel.”

The Officer Down Memorial Page opens to a red flag warning to police officers that “COVID is the #1 killer of law enforcement officers in 2020 and 2021. Getting vaccinated is just as important as wearing your seatbelt. Don’t wait any longer, please get vaccinated today to protect yourself, your family and your fellow officers.”

According to the Officer Down Memorial page, 132 members of law enforcement agencies are known to have died of COVID-19 in 2021, as of Aug. 30.

In Florida alone last month, six people affiliated with law enforcement died over a 10-day period.

In the first half of 2021, 71 law enforcement officials in the U.S. died from the virus – a small decrease compared to the 76 who died in the same time period in 2020, per data compiled by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

Last year, the total figure was 241 – making the virus the leading cause of law enforcement line-of-duty deaths.

No national statistics show the vaccination rate for the U.S. population of first responders, but individual police and fire departments across the country report figures far below the national rate of 74% of adults who have had at least one dose.

The Long Beach police and fire unions have not been public about their position on the city vaccine mandate.

In September 2020 Governor Newsom signed SB 1159, making effective legislation that presumes COVID-19 to be duty related for first responders. Total health, hospitalization and loss of wages benefits are covered by workers compensation benefits with no vaccine requirement.

The City of Long Beach contracts with CalPERS for pension benefits. Deb Reyman, information officer at CalPERS stated that, “There is no (COVID–19) vaccine requirement to receive death benefits.”

The follow-up data promised by the city spokesperson will afford the public the opportunity to judge the attitudes of the rank and file first responder who serve city residents.

This is a developing story. The Beachcomber will update vaccination rates for our first responders when made available by the city.

Stephen Downing is a resident of Long Beach and a retired LAPD deputy chief of police.
stephen.beachcomber@gmail.com

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Comments

If city employees choose periodic Covid testing over vaccination, I certainly hope the testing cost is on their dime and not taxpayers.

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