BOSTON (WWLP) – The Massachusetts State Police Association is looking to resolve a decision where seven state troopers are still without pay after receiving religious exemption for the vaccine mandate.
According to the State Police Association, seven troopers are still suspended without pay that were approved a religious exemption for the COVID-19 vaccine but denied an accommodation to return to work. An arbitration hearing on religious discrimination being held Wednesday hopes to resolve this.
The union President Patrick McNamara is asking for these employees to return to work, and says the troopers will follow any accommodations, such as masks and testing, necessary.
“[The troopers] were found to have sincerely held religious beliefs and approved an exemption, but denied an accommodation to work,” said McNamara. “Today we’re here not as anti-vax, we’re here as pro-labor, fighting for rights of our members and our workforce.”
Governor Baker ordered all executive branch employees to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination by October 2021 or they could face disciplinary action. Several State Police troopers were fired for not following the protocol.
The Commonwealth Employee Relations Board denied the State Police Association’s appeal in February 2022 that challenged Baker’s mandate for all state employees. The union claimed Baker violated the troopers’ collective bargaining rights. The board ruled that Baker did have the authority to implement the mandate.
In April, the State Police Association of Massachusetts criticized the governor for keeping the vaccine mandate executive order in place even as he works to lift other pandemic-era restrictions such as a school mask mandate.