The city of San Diego began sending pre-termination letters to city workers who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19, one month before city contractors are set to be fired if they don’t vaccinate by then.
San Diego first announced mandatory vaccinations for city workers in August, setting a November deadline. The deadline brought the vaccination level to above 80% for all city workers, with a follow up emergency order on Monday that officially set the mandate to begin on December 1st, with city contractors receiving a January 3rd date. Workers now have a final 30 days to comply.
Out of the 2,130 employees currently not vaccinated in the city of 11,330 in total, 946 are currently awaiting approval for religious or health exemptions. The others appear to insist on their personal positions on the vaccine.
Tweets from San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria show that isolations from the forced mandate have already led to garbage collecting delays and the closure of police and fire academies.
“Simply put, the proposed vaccine mandate for City employees is an issue of public safety for both the community and employees. It is also a necessary step in order for the City to be able to efficiently provide the municipal services our residents expect,” Mayor Gloria tweeted earlier this week. “We have experienced more than 1,100 delayed routes in trash collection. SDPD has had to suspend police academy operations. SDFD had to temporarily close two fire academies and make changes in operational protocols when more than 30 personnel were in isolation. Requiring our City employees to get vaccinated is an important and necessary step to make sure we can provide essential City services and keep our employees and the public safe as we do so.”
Requiring our City employees to get vaccinated is an important and necessary step to make sure we can provide essential City services and keep our employees and the public safe as we do so. #ForAllofUs
— San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria (@MayorToddGloria) November 29, 2021
Pre-termination letters from San Diego
The pre-termination letters sent out on Friday make it clear to city employees that if they aren’t vaccinated by the end of the year, that they are to resign, retire, go on unpaid leave, get exempted, or get vaccinated, or if they don’t, risk termination.
“The city really doesn’t give a damn about our beliefs or want to understand why we don’t want to do this,” said “Sharon”, a San Diego city workers who wished to remain anonymous in a Globe interview on Friday. “They’re looking at 20% of their staff just plain gone and they still don’t think any of this is wrong.
“We’ve been keeping an eye on how other areas are going and what they’re doing to employees who aren’t vaccinating, LA in particular. And they’ve been losing not only a lot of good people, but losing applicants too. A lot of us think these pre-termination notices are just scare tactics and that we’re playing a game of chicken right now. They want us to flinch, and we want them to. And it’s all going to happen in less than a month.
“A lot of people are now going for exemptions more and more. Mostly religious because it’s a lot easier to prove than medical. And then a lot of people hoping to ride it out early next year as those are pending and COVID-19 rules continue to change. And if, after all that, people are still fired, there will be a ton of wrongful termination suits. Some of us even have lawyers now in the hopes of blocking the mandate in court by Christmas. San Diego really doesn’t know what it will be in for if they keep going on this.”
City officials, including Mayor Gloria, are also looking into contingencies in case of a large vaccine mandate firing. Overtime pay and quick staffing are among the two ways the city hopes to meet the mandate if they end up with a mass firing, with San Diego keeping health and wellness of residents as the main goal.
“I don’t want to lose any member of our city family,” added Gloria this week. “I hope that none of them choose to leave city service. But more importantly, I don’t want to lose any of them to COVID-19.”
Legal challenges against the San Diego mandate are expected to come in later this month.