ANN ARBOR, Mich. – From first responders to staff in city hall, Ann Arbor city employees have to be fully vaccinated against COVID by Nov. 19.
John Fournier, Ann Arbor’s assistant city administrator, said nearly 80% of all city employees are vaccinated.
When the mandate was first announced in August, the deadline was Oct. 8.
“We want people to be able to go to our police, go to our firefighters without this overlaying fear of that person being a vector for infection,” Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor said. “A safe and effective vaccine is the best way for us to achieve that.”
There is some pushback.
“It seemed to me, voluntarily, it was occurring pretty well,” said James Tignanelli, president of Police Officers Association of Michigan. “Some people just don’t react as well to having the finger pointed at them.”
POAM has been negotiating with the city on behalf of the 20% of officers who, for various reasons, aren’t vaccinated. Options such as more testing were brought up as an alternative, but after a third meeting, Tignanelli believes city officials have made up their mind, and there’s no more room for discussion.
“Nov. 19, if you’re not fully vaccinated, you’ll be sent home without pay for 30 days,” Tignanelli said. “You’ll maintain your health care. I guess the objective being that would give you 30 days to go get double vaccinated.”
If you’re still not vaccinated after those 30 days, that’s when you could be terminated. Now, Tignanelli is concerned about where there will be enough officers left after Nov. 19.
“They’ve been short-handed for a long time now, as most departments are -- anywhere from 20% to 25% short-handed, so they’re not overstaffed by any means, but the employer, that’s our guys, will have to do their job and do the best that they can,” Tignanelli said.
Taylor believes with nearly 80% of first responders already vaccinated, it shouldn’t get to that point.
“They’re focused on their own safety, of course, and they’re also focused on community safety,” Taylor said.
Fournier also mentioned that the police department’s vaccination rate is 80% out of 141 employees, and said that vaccination rates are rising daily.