By M.D. Kittle
Madison – Doug, a Wisconsin state employee, is facing a tough choice in the wake of the Evers administration’s latest COVID-19 mitigation mandate: Get a coronavirus test weekly or lose his job.
Doug is just shy of five years with the state, which means he’s on the verge of being vested in the vaunted Wisconsin Retirement System, with all the benefits it brings.
But he tells Empower Wisconsin he’s willing to walk away from it all rather than being compelled — coerced — into conforming to Evers’ new mandates.
“I really only have a short time before I’m vested, but I’m not going to put myself through this,” he said. “I imagine I’ll be terminated eventually.”
Doug said he knows of co-workers who have been “walked out” because they refuse to wear a mask in state government offices.
He’s not alone. Untold numbers of state executive branch employees are facing the same dilemma. Thanks to President Joe Biden’s constitutionally suspect edicts, millions of employees in private sector businesses are in the same boat.
Vax resisters have come out passionately against the mandates. At least 16 nurses and staff members at a New York hospital recently quit over vaccination demands.
The unions that represent government employees, health care workers and others, are divided on vaccine mandates as a condition of employment. The American Federation of Teachers and the National Nurses Union are fully behind Biden’s sweeping mandate. Police and firefighters unions from Newark, N.J. to Portland, Ore. have fought back against compulsory poke policies.
Where does the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME), which represents the lion’s share of Wisconsin state employees, stand on the issue? Patrick Wycoff, executive director of AFSCME Council 32, did not return Empower Wisconsin’s requests for comment.
AFSCME President Lee Saunders last month sounded equivocal.
“The Delta variant has brought a new sense of urgency to crushing this pandemic, making vaccination more essential than ever. As employers establish vaccination policies, AFSCME will address the impact on workers through bargaining to ensure that the front-line heroes of this pandemic are treated fairly,” Saunders said in a statement.
But the union did speak out in defense of its vax-resisting members in New York on Wednesday, when a State Supreme Court judge temporarily blocked New York City’s vaccine mandate. The state ruling, according to ABC7 in New York, came the same day a federal judge upstate temporarily halted a vaccine mandate that applied to healthcare workers who sued over the right to a religious exemption.
“While we do believe our members should get the vaccine, we do not believe it should be a condition of employment,” said Henry Garrio, who heads the city’s largest municipal union, AFSCME District Council 37. “Clearly, the courts agree. The fight is not over, but we are energized by this decision and ready to keep going on behalf of our members.”
The unequal treatment of Biden’s mandates also are facing legal challenges. Businesses with less than100 employees, for instance, are not compelled to follow the same mandates as larger companies.
Originally it was reported that U.S. Postal Service employees were not covered under the vaccine mandates, but that is not the case. They fall under the private-sector business portion of the order.
Meanwhile, the leftist ACLU, which used to stand up for civil liberties, as its name (American Civil Liberties Union) should imply, now insists strict public health measures protect freedom rather than limit it.
Doug, the state employee who spoke to Empower Wisconsin, believes it’s only a matter of time before the Evers administration mandates COVID shots for all employees.
“Before this new order, I talked to several people in leadership. They said they were never considering a vaccine mandate. Well, I know it’s not a vaccine mandate yet, but they’re inching close,” he said. “I tried to get my state reps involved but you have to lose your job before they’ll get involved.”
So, Doug says he’s on his own, like many of his fellow state workers. But the time to stand up is now, he said.
“It’s time for civil disobedience, in my opinion. You have to say, ‘No, enough is enough,’” the state employee said.