Some Carbondale PD employees face termination for not following city’s vaccine mandate

Published: Nov. 22, 2021 at 6:14 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 22, 2021 at 6:23 PM CST
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CARBONDALE, Ill. (KFVS) - Multiple employees of the Carbondale Police Department face termination for not following the city’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

The city’s nearly 250 employees had until Monday, November 22 to get vaccinated or get an approved exemption.

On Monday, we learned that, according to the city of Carbondale’s public information officer, out of 244 employees, only three are not vaccinated or have filed for medical or religious exemptions. Those three are all from the police department.

“I don’t see where this is good for the city,” said Robert Jones, an attorney with Illinois Fraternal Order of Police Labor Councils.

Jones represents the City of Carbondale’s dispatchers and patrol officers. Instead of a flat-out employee vaccine mandate, he said he asked for different options.

“Which is to just have a mask and test mandate option, so several of the officers and I cannot give you an exact number,” said Jones.

He said the union filed for a notice to impact bargain.

“And what that means, Colin, is that the city can change things unilaterally, but they have to impact, the impact they have to bargain with the union. And we have met several times and we have failed to achieve a successful agreement between the union and the city,” said Jones.

Carbondale’s city manager declined an on-camera interview, but referred us to a letter sent to non-vaccinated employees.

Part of the letter stated: “If you fail to provide proof of vaccination by November 22, you will be suspended and placed on administrative leave which will not expand past two weeks.”

The letter also noted, “If you do not comply within your two weeks of administrative leave, you will be subject to termination.”

“That is our concern, Colin, is that it is both impactful to the city’s operations, most notably to fully staff a shift for the police, as well as the dispatchers, that the information from the citizens to the police force may be also affected,” Jones said.

He said if officers are terminated, it’s the community that would feel the impact as well.

“Is that the citizens of Carbondale are the ones that are going to be most impacted, because the safety is compromised by less officers on the street,” he continued.

He said once the mandate goes into effect, he plans to file a grievance for those officers affected.

“We do plan to litigate those officers; are free to file what’s called a grievance under our union contract with the city. So we will be following through with those grievances and unlike a civil case where you go to court, under the collective bargaining agreement you appear before an arbitrator,” he said.

In its letter to employees, the city thanked them for their service but it goes on to say city leaders must put the safety of all city employees and the community at the forefront of what they do.

A full copy of that letter can be found below.

A letter from the City of Carbondale.
A letter from the City of Carbondale.(City of Carbondale)

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