Police union endorses GOP bill protecting jobs of essential workers who defy COVID vaccine mandates

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Police union blasts vaccine mandate as ‘putting lives at risk’

Sergeant Mike Cherven, president of the State Police Association of Massachusetts, explains the consequences of officers being removed from their jobs and calls for a masking and testing option for officers who choose not to get vaccinated.

The National Fraternal Order of Police, the largest police union in the country, urged the Senate to consider legislation introduced this week by a group of GOP senators that would protect essential workers from being fired due to federal COVID-19 vaccine mandates, saying it believes giving an “ultimatum” to law enforcement officers is “not right.”

National FOP President Patrick Yoes on Wednesday announced the union’s endorsement of the “Keeping Our COVID-19 Heroes Employed Act.”

The bill would “provide for an exemption” for “all essential workers” from COVID vaccine requirements imposed by the federal government, a public or private federal contractor, a private entity receiving federal funds or a public entity receiving funding under the coronavirus CARES Act. 

The bill defines an essential worker as an individual whom a “relevant State, Indian Tribe, or territory deemed essential during the response to the COVID-19 pandemic” or “who was exempt from any restrictions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic imposed by a relevant State, Indian Tribe, or territory.”

“It is the position of the National FOP that vaccinations work to prevent people from becoming infected by COVID-19, and we encourage our members to get vaccinated,” Yoes said in a statement. “However, the National FOP believes that whether or not to accept the vaccine is a personal decision that our members should make for themselves after consultation with their doctor or other medical professionals.”

Yoes said the organization understands the “public policy and public health objectives” behind the Biden administration’s vaccine mandates.

Senator Marsha Blackburn, R-Tennessee., speaks during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing titled "Texas Unconstitutional Abortion Ban and the Role of the Shadow Docket", in Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, September 29, 2021.
(Tom Williams/Pool via REUTERS)

President Biden signed an executive order over the summer requiring that all workers in the executive branch be vaccinated against COVID-19. Biden also signed an order to require businesses with more than 100 workers to mandate coronavirus vaccinations.

And Biden signed an executive order on Sept. 9 requiring federal contractors to mandate vaccinations and ensure workers are fully vaccinated by Dec. 8. 

“No one needs to tell our members about the dangers of COVID-19 — we have lost more than 700 officers to the virus since the start of the pandemic,” he continued. “We know it can be deadly.”

New York City, USA – April 29, 2019: NYPD (New York Police Department) Sign with Logo on Police Patrol Car in New York City. USA

Yoes said that “even with that knowledge, law enforcement officers in every region of the country reported for work.”

“Due to our profession, we did not have the option to work from home, and we could not always practice social distancing,” he said. “We showed up and worked to keep our communities safe, even in the midst of a global pandemic and, sometimes, without even the most basic personal protective equipment.”

Yoes said that COVID-19 is not only a public health crisis, but also a “public safety crisis.”

“Unfortunately, the public safety crisis could very well be exacerbated as a result of mandating our everyday heroes to choose unwillingly getting a medical procedure or their jobs — it is not fair or just,” he said.

NEW YORK, NY – MAY 15: Police officers on patrol around Times Square subway station on May 15, 2020 in New York City.  (Photo by Jose Perez/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)

The legislation, introduced by Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., is co-sponsored by Republican Sens. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, Bill Haggerty of Tennessee, Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Mike Braun of Indiana, Tommy Tuberville of Alabama and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.

The legislation was endorsed by a number of worker groups, including the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the National Border Patrol Council, the president of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, the National Sheriffs’ Association and the National Association of Small Trucking Companies, among others. 

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