Lamont fires workers on probation for COVID-19 non-compliance


MARK PAZNIOKAS :: CTMIRROR.ORG

Governor Ned Lamont speaks with reporters on Friday.

A dozen state employees during their six-month probationary period were fired on Friday for refusing to comply with Governor Ned Lamont’s order to get COVID-19 shots or start testing weekly for illness.

While other non-compliant employees risk being placed on unpaid leave for 45 days before losing their jobs, those still on the probationary period required for each new hire may be immediately terminated, officials said. the state.

“We have contacted them more than once, said to them, ‘You are getting vaccinated or you are getting tested. And if you say no, you can’t work here. It’s dangerous, ”Lamont said.

The deadline to comply passed four days ago at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, but the administration refrained from massively and without payment suspending the hundreds of non-compliant as more proof of vaccination or testing was offered each. day.

The administration settled the suspension procedures and weekly tests with state employee unions on Friday. A statement posted on a website run by the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition says the administration has agreed to pay for weekly testing for the duration of the pandemic emergency.

The administration says federal funds are available for testing.

Evidence of testing should come from a state-approved clinical laboratory, pharmacy testing provider, or other approved healthcare provider. Employees can use vacation, sick leave, work hours, and personal time off to get tested. Home testing is not acceptable.

Talks continue over the unions’ demand that Lamont delay enforcing his vaccination order for healthcare workers who cannot opt ​​for tests instead of vaccinations.

“While we are pleased with the progress made, the new agreement does not adequately address our concerns that the strict enforcement of the vaccine requirement in public hospitals and long-term care facilities could exacerbate shortages. of staff that existed long before COVID-19, ”the unions said.

At the end of the activities Thursday, all but 671 of the 32,000 employees subject to the Lamont vaccination order had been vaccinated or tested, a compliance rate of 97.8%. The administration had no updates on Friday night other than saying more were in compliance.

“The good news is a lot, a lot more, as they see the deadline, come forward and get their shots and show off their testing protocols,” Lamont said. “Now more than 98% are advancing. “

When speaking to reporters on Friday afternoon, he suggested that an agreement was reached on parts of his vaccination or testing order.

“We negotiated this in good faith on both sides. We are making real progress there, ”said Lamont.

Lamont said he was not inclined to reconsider his decision to vaccinate workers at certain health facilities or take unpaid leave, even if public hospitals are understaffed.

“I think we’re going to be in good shape. I think the overwhelming majority have been vaccinated, ”Lamont said of the healthcare workers. “And the president is not suggesting that we compromise on this – and neither am I. And especially when you are dealing with the elderly, especially when you are dealing with the sick, you have to be vaccinated, otherwise it is not. is not sure.

The Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, which operates Connecticut Valley Hospital, Whiting Forensic and smaller mental health facilities, had 112 non-compliant employees as of Thursday.

The administration did not specify how many were in direct care jobs and needed to be vaccinated or go on leave. Overall, 84% of DMHAS employees were vaccinated and 13% had started testing.

The lowest vaccination rate was in the correction department, where 57% were vaccinated, 41% opted for the test, and 2% did not show evidence of either.

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