VAN BUREN TOWNSHIP, Mich. – From the moment COVID vaccines became widely available, there’s been pushback against the idea of employers forcing their workers to get the shot.
That’s now come to a head in Van Buren Township where the board has passed a mandate for those who work for the city to be vaccinated.
“Our board has been debating what the best course of action is to preserve the safety of its employees and its residents,” said Township Supervisor Kevin McNamara.
The board voted in majority to enforce all government employees get the vaccine by Aug. 16.
“I represent the board and the board is absolutely right. They have the right to ask for mandated vaccinations by law,” said McNamara.
But this mandate is not going over well with everyone, especially police officers and emergency responders.
“Basically, they have enacted something without negotiating with the union, without talking to the union about it,” said Adam Byrd, union president for Van Buren Township police and dispatchers.
Byrd said most of the members are vaccinated, but now there’s talk of his members leaving.
“We’re hearing that not just the unvaccinated people want to leave the department but the vaccinated people, when you start to challenge their choices, are considering leaving the organization,” he said.
Byrd said he’s been hearing employees who don’t get the vaccine will be fired. However, McNamara said that’s not the case.
“I made it very clear that I will not be putting termination as one of the directives, unless I’m directed by the board. I’m going to work with the unions. I’m going to work with the team members. I’m going to find common ground,” McNamara said.