Get Vax’d or Get Fired — NJ Corrections Officers Have Until Midnight
Thousands of county and state corrections officers have until midnight tonight to show proof of full vaccination against COVID, and a booster shot, or risk losing their jobs.
Many may quit, rather than be inoculated.
The New Jersey state Supreme Court has dismissed a lawsuit from the Policemen's Benevolent Association, upholding the ruling of an appeals court on Friday that upheld the mandate imposed by Gov. Phil Murphy.
Justices denied the request to stay the order by a 5-2 vote.
Pat Colligan, president of The New Jersey State Policeman’s Benevolent Association derided the ruling.
"The mask mandate for children was lifted, thousands of prisoners were released and the infection numbers have plummeted, but we are going to throw away dedicated public employees with the trash tomorrow!" Colligan said on Twitter, "Does that sound right to anybody?"
The New Jersey PBA and the New Jersey Superior Officers Association sought to challenge Murphy’s January order that health care workers and others who work in “congregate” settings get inoculated, including boosters.
William Sullivan, president of PBA Local 105 which represents corrections officers, said that members who are not in compliance by Wednesday at 11:59 p.m. will receive a letter granting them three additional days to comply or face termination. Those who have taken the first two doses have until March 30 to show proof of receiving the booster.
Lawyers are reviewing options of any appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court but Sullivan does not expect a stay to be granted before the mandate takes effect.
How will staffing be impacted?
Sullivan's "grave concerns" about what could happen to already critically low staffing levels if unvaccinated members were terminated could very well come true.
"It's either going to be nothing or something huge in the next couple days. Hopefully the exemptions are vetted and they're not just all denied and they follow EEOC guidelines and approve the ones that muster," Sullivan said.
Only 40% of corrections officers are vaccinated, according to Sullivan which is far below the state average of 74% of adults. Sullivan is expecting an update of the number of vaccinated members by Wednesday.
Many members are not planning to take the vaccination or have already turned in their resignations.
"We have quite a few members who have not put in exemptions and will let themselves be terminated," Sullivan said."
What is the objection to the vaccine?
Sullivan said the biggest issue among his members is that the vaccine is being mandated for them but not inmates or their visitors.
"They are releasing inmates early and not requiring them to be vaccinated. People can come visit inmates and not be vaccinated. So where is the science? Why is what's good for us not good for the inmates," Sullivan said.
More than 250 inmates were released from prisons and halfway houses Thursday because of public health emergency credits, which were created to reduce the number of people in group living quarters, which can contribute to the spread of the virus.
Previous reporting by Michael Symons was used in this report.
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