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Gainesville commissioners vote to reconsider vaccine mandate as workers protest

Published: Sep. 23, 2021 at 5:08 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -Another large group of Gainesville workers met leaders outside city hall.

“Well they’ve been heard loud and clear,” said Commissioner David Arreola.

It’s at least the fourth city worker protest against the vaccine mandate. This time, commissioner Arreola said there’s a way to calm mandate-related tension between workers and the dais.

RELATED STORY: Gainesville city workers protest mandatory vaccines

“A plan that’s more in line with the guidance that President Biden’s administration has put out,” added Arreola. “Which is to require people to choose either vaccination or some other reasonable alternative and so that’s the approach I want to take. I think now we need to take the temperature down a little bit and really get back to working with our unions.”

Arreola made the motion asking his colleagues to reconsider their early August vote enacting the vaccine mandate for city employees. Seconded by Gail Johnson, the motion also asks charter officers to work with union reps in creating a vaccine plan for employees that aligns with President Biden’s OSHA order. It requires private employers with more than 100 workers to mandate vaccines or enforce weekly testing. The motion passed with Adrian Hayes-Santos in dissent.

“This is, this came, this idea I’ve been working with union leaders for a couple of weeks now because when you look at the vaccination rates we’re really close to getting our herd immunity but we’re not quite there yet,” mentioned Arreola.

RELATED STORY: City of Gainesville’s vaccine mandate temporarily halted by judge’s order

Despite the temporary injunction, city workers still call for change. Former city worker Rocio Medina said change is necessary.

“I don’t like this because many people are suffering from this why do I have to?” asked Medina. “I don’t need this protocol, I need my paycheck.”

Charter officers are directed to use President Biden’s OSHA vaccine mandate requirement to coordinate with union leaders in making a new vaccine plan.

“Why should I get my daily bread messed up because of a little vaccine that is going to interrupt my day of living? My day of rights” added Medina. “Why? It’s my right to work, it’s my right to get that paycheck.”

Commissioners will vote once again on the vaccine mandate once city staff returns with updated employee plans for vaccination or an alternative.

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