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Oct. 24, 2021

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King County extends COVID vaccination deadline to Dec. 2 in agreement with unions

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SEATTLE — King County has reached a deal with unions representing most of its employees that extends the deadline to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 to Dec. 2.

The agreement — which covers roughly 10,000 workers — was announced Wednesday by King County Executive Dow Constantine.

The county, like the state and city of Seattle, had previously announced a deadline of Oct. 18 for employees be fully vaccinated, with those who don’t comply facing termination.

Already, 87 percent of county workers have received at least one vaccine dose and 80 percent have been fully vaccinated, according to Constantine’s office.

The new agreement, similar to one reached by the state with its largest union, gives some slack for those workers who have been hesitant.

County workers will receive termination letters after Oct. 18 if they don’t show proof of vaccination, according to a copy of the agreement. However, they won’t be immediately fired “provided they have begun the process for being fully vaccinated and can complete that process by Dec. 2,” Constantine’s office said in a news release.

Employees also can make requests for accommodation for religious or medical reasons.

The agreement announced Wednesday gives county employees paid time off if they are unable to work because of vaccine side effects, and they’ll also receive paid leave if they contract COVID-19.

Constantine said in a statement he was pleased the county labor negotiators had reached agreement with the unions. “With a fully vaccinated workforce, we are protecting one another and the public we serve, keeping our community safe and healthy,” he said in a statement.

Maria Williams, co-chair of the King County Coalition of Unions, said in a statement unions will continue to work to “make sure individual rights of workers are protected while we work to achieve our shared goals of public health and employment security.”

The pact covers the county Coalition of Unions, Technical Employees Association, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 77, King County Corrections Guild, the King County Juvenile Detention Guild, Washington State Nurses Association and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 587 — which together represent 95 percent of the County’s workforce, according to Constantine’s office.

The agreement does not cover the union representing King County sheriff’s deputies, said Constantine spokesperson Chase Gallagher.

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