MILWAUKEE — A City of Milwaukee alderman introduced a resolution that would require all city employees to be fully vaccinated or be tested for COVID-19 weekly.
Ald. Robert Bauman introduced the legislation Monday, asking the Department of Employee Relations (DER) to create a policy requiring all city employees to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or provide a weekly negative COVID-19 test in order to report to work.
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“All city employees deserve to work in an environment where the risk of infection by COVID-19 has been minimized, and this legislation will help us create that safer workplace,” Bauman said.
He's also concerned about back peddling on progress made against the pandemic.
"My worry is that we start getting into capacity limits, we start impacting restaurants and bars again, retail stores; Summerfest may be very much in jeopardy,” Bauman said.
If the resolution is approved by the Common Council, the DER would have to create the policy within one month. All employees who were unwilling to comply with the policy would not be allowed to report to work and could face disciplinary action.
Barbara Zabawa, a clinical assistant professor in the College of Health Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, teaches health law and compliance.
She said employees may be terminated if they fail to comply. And there's recent precedent.
Last month, a federal judge in Texas dismissed a class-action lawsuit by employees who refused to follow a vaccine mandate at a Texas hospital.
They argued the drug was experimental and they shouldn’t be forced to take it. More than a week after the judge's decision, around 150 employees were fired or resigned.
Zabawa said both Pfizer and Moderna are seeking full approval by the end of the year, beyond the current emergency authorization of the vaccines.
"And if and when that happens, a lot of the cases and reasons for bringing the arguments go away, because they can’t argue experimental at that point," Zabawa said.