Hundreds protest against Washington Governor Inslee’s vaccine mandate | Oregon News

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OLYMPIA, Washington (AP) – Hundreds of people gathered at the State Capitol in Olympia on Saturday to protest Governor Jay Inslee’s vaccination mandate.

The warrant, which Inslee announced in early August, requires most state officials, health care workers and school workers to be fully immunized by October 18 or lose their jobs. Inslee said getting people vaccinated is essential to pushing Washington through the pandemic.

Organizers of the rally on Saturday warned that a large portion of state officials, including many firefighters, sanitation workers and bus drivers, will not receive the vaccine – up to 30% to 40% across the board. state, they said. The basis for this estimate was unclear.

“If the governor refuses to rescind his mandate, it will mean that several areas of the state will be severely reduced or closed completely,” Tyler Miller of Liberty Group At All Hazards said in a press release. “The governor needlessly threatens the true safety and well-being of the citizens of Washington if he forces his mandate to continue. “

Inslee spokesperson Mike Faulk argued for the need for the warrant.

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“Employees are losing their lives due to COVID. Hospitals are filling up. Communities are stressed by the impacts of the pandemic. The safest and most effective way to overcome these tragic circumstances is vaccination, ”Faulk said in a statement.

The Washington State Federation of Employees filed a lawsuit Thursday to block the warrant in Thurston County Superior Court, saying the state had not negotiated in good faith on the matter. The lawsuit says allowing the mandate to take effect without an agreement with the union would infringe the rights of union members. Inslee’s office says he disagrees.

“Our union’s top priority is health and safety – for the staff and the public we serve,” union president Mike Yesramski said in a press release. “This is why we need the state to make a good faith effort to negotiate and really think about how it is going to implement this mandate in a safe, fair and consistent manner.”

This includes developing processes for workers to receive exemptions for religious or medical reasons and to deal with staffing issues, he said.

Inslee’s mandate is among the strictest in the country. It doesn’t allow employees to show proof of negative COVID-19 tests instead of getting vaccinated.

In Oregon, an outbreak at a long-term care facility in Springfield began with an unvaccinated worker, public health officials said. This epidemic has resulted in dozens of infections and five deaths.

In California, public health officials said Friday that 22 children contracted COVID after an unvaccinated elementary school teacher removed her mask to read to students.

But many employers have expressed concerns that the tenure could cause workers to quit.

Vaccination rates across the state have increased since the warrants were announced, which also came amid rapidly increasing cases and hospitalizations caused by the highly infectious delta variant.

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