MILWAUKEE COUNTY — Friday is the deadline for Milwaukee County employees to provide proof of vaccination or an accepted exemption.
Failure to comply could result in penalties or even "separation," as the county states on its website.
Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley and the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors announced the mandate via administrative order in early September.
According to the county, as of Thursday, 38 percent of workers had yet to submit proof of vaccination. That’s about 1,600 people of the county’s roughly 4,300 employees.
That 38 percent includes several hundred employees of the Sheriff's department who haven't submitted proof but are not required to under union representation.
Others who fall under the mandate and are unable to provide a religious or medical exemption may incur penalties from Oct. 11.
In addition to losing access to voluntary overtime or Risk Recognition Pay, non-compliance penalties include:
- Unpaid suspension for up to 10 days
- An impact on potential promotions
- Salary adjustment
- Possible separation
From January 1, 2022, non-compliant employees enrolled in the county's healthcare will also be hit with a $20 a day period surcharge.
For now, it's unclear how many employees will continue to hold out, and if their resistance will have an impact on county services.
“Obviously, that’d be really disappointing if that happened. Obviously, we want to keep the services running. But we need employee compliance," said Jason Haas, 14th District County Supervisor.
Haas said he believes sick employees are the bigger risk to services.
Outside of the Milwaukee County Courthouse on Friday, a county employee, who wished to remain anonymous, said she believes the mandate is tragic. She said she has colleagues with combined decades of county service who are prepared to take the penalties.
12th District County Supervisor Sylvia Ortiz-Velez supports vaccination but doesn't believe mandates are effective.
“It doesn’t leave room for discussion or debate. And it’s divisive," Ortiz-Velez said.
She said the focus should be on persuasion.
Penalties for those who fail to comply begin Oct. 11.