This is an update to keep you informed of the status of the Mandatory Testing Program issued Aug 18 and the Mandatory Vaccinations that were announced Aug 23.
COBANC’s membership remains divided on the issue of vaccination, and we respect each individual member's stance on this. However, the Unified Court System is required to collectively bargain the steps to betaken for implementing their policies on Mandatory Testing and Vaccination.
We provide facts when we know them to be true, not speculation based on what OCA informs us, because we all know that information is subject to change. We intend to keep you informed, but we do not rush to put out information that may or may not be factually correct.
All twelve court unions have been meeting continuously. What follows is a timeline of events:
On July 28, Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence K. Marks announced a new policy that would require Unified Court System judges and non-judicial employees who have not been vaccinated to undergo regular testing for COVID-19. This was done without any negotiation, no less any notification, to any court union.
All twelve court unions met the following day and discussed the concerns facing our members. We demanded that OCA negotiate the terms and conditions of this program.
Between July 28 and August 18, OCA agreed to two meetings to discuss the testing policy.
At the first meeting, OCA presented a plan that would require all employees to test on their own time and at their own expense (if any). We informed OCA that was unacceptable.
At the second meeting, OCA presented a plan that grants employees one hour excused leave to be tested and at their own expense (if any). We informed OCA that one hour was not enough time and that OCA should bear the cost of testing (if any).
On Aug 18, OCA issued their Mandatory Testing Program. The terms and conditions were not agreed to by the Unions.
On Aug 23, Chief Judge Janet DiFiore announced her intention to mandate the vaccination of all UCS employees. In another sign of disrespect for us, the Unions were given no notification that this was about to happen.
Another meeting with OCA was held on Aug 24. During this meeting, we reiterated our concerns related to the Mandatory Testing Program. OCA stated they would not negotiate further on the terms and conditions of the testing policy. COBANC, after consultation with our labor attorney, will be filing the appropriate action(s) with PERB.
Peter A. Piciulo