Already massively understaffed, Washington State prisons lose 350 more employees due to “mandate”

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OLYMPIA, WA- According to Washington State prison officials, losing an additional 350 employees under the vaccine mandate won’t make the already-understaffed positions any less safe as it seems the facilities are still running under “normal operations.”

Washington Department of Correction (DOC) Secretary Cheryl Strange claimed that state prisons were operating normally on Thursday, October 21st, after 350 prison employees quit or were fired on Monday, October 18th, for failing to submit their vaccine records to the state.

She said employees who failed to show proof of vaccination by the October 18th deadline included correction officers, medical staffers, cooks, and maintenance workers. Strange added:

“We’re trying to fill them today.”

She added that employees have been covering for vacant shifts since the beginning of the pandemic, relying on overtime, on-call shifts, and moving staffers around the state to facilities in need of personnel. She stated that all those practices would continue. 

Reportedly, about 92 percent of the DOC employees are vaccinated, as opposed to the statewide average of 95 percent. According to DOC spokesperson Rachel Ericson, as of October 19th, the department lost 350 or about 4.5 percent of its employees, but the rate actually varies across facilities. 

State data shows that Airway Heights Corrections Center lost 21 people and has a 93 percent vaccination rate. Coyote Ridge Corrections Center lost 30 people and has a 91 percent rate. The facility with the lowest vaccination rate is the state penitentiary in Walla Wall, which has an 89 percent rate. That facility lost 52 people.

Ericson stated:

“All facilities have adequate staffing for operations.”

Strange said that despite the sudden loss of 4.5 percent of DOC’s employees, she thinks the prison system is safer under the state’s mandate. She said:

“We have not seen a significant impact to staff or those in our care and custody, any uptick in injury or fights.”

Strange said that having all employees vaccinated will result in fewer viral exposures and less time in quarantine for inmates and prison staff. She added:

“Somebody would get a tag saying, ‘You have possibly been exposed.’ We do screenings, we did testing, so we had a lot of people out for that exposure. So that will go down.”

 However, the union that represents all of the non-supervisor prison employees in the state said the situation is far more grim than what Strange is describing. Michelle Woodrow, the president of Teamsters 117, said that employees who did get vaccinated are exhausted and morale is at an all-time low. She said:

“They are saying goodbye to a lot of co-workers that they’ve worked with for a very long time and have relationships, there’s an element of grief that’s occurring.”

The union president said the staffing shortage has made working in prisons more dangerous, adding:

“It’s unhealthy for the incarceration population. It’s unhealthy for our staff and it’s not safe.”

As of October 19th, the Washington State Patrol lost 126 members of its 2,200 person force due to the vaccine mandate. Washington State Patrol (WSP) Trooper Robert LaMay blasted Governor Jay Inslee and his mandate as he signed off the radio for the final time, concluding his 22-year WSP career. He said:

“This is my final sign-off. After 22 years of serving the citizens of the state of Washington, I’m being asked to leave … I’d like to thank the citizens of Yakima County as well as my fellow officers within the valley. Without you guys I wouldn’t have been very successful and you’ve kept me safe and you got me home to my family every night. Thank you for that.”

He added:

“This is the last time you’ll hear me in a state patrol car. Jay Inslee can kiss my (expletive).”

Editor note: In 2020, we saw a nationwide push to “defund the police”.  While we all stood here shaking our heads wondering if these people were serious… they cut billions of dollars in funding for police officers.  And as a result, crime has skyrocketed – all while the same politicians who said “you don’t need guns, the government will protect you” continued their attacks on both our police officers and our Second Amendment rights.

And that’s exactly why we’re launching this national crowdfunding campaign as part of our efforts to help “re-fund the police”.

For those looking for a quick link to get in the fight and support the cause, click here.

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‘Dozens’ of Massachusetts state troopers line up to quit over vaccine mandate after judge denies delay

September 28th, 2021

BOSTON, MA – “Dozens” of state troopers fed up with the governor’s vaccine mandate are filing paperwork to quit the force as a Superior Court judge has denied any delay in the mandate that kicks in Oct. 17.

A Superior Court judge late Thursday denied a request by the union representing 1,800 members of the state police to block the implementation of Gov. Charlie Baker’s vaccine mandate until details can be collectively bargained, a move the union says has prompted dozens of resignations.

Judge Jackie Cowin ruled that the State Police Association of Massachusetts (SPAM) had failed to show that the implementation of the mandate would either cause irreparable harm to its members or that a delay would serve the public interest.

“Suspending the deadline for union members to obtain full vaccination would be against the public interest which the defendants are charged with protecting, and cause more harm to the Commonwealth than is caused to the union by denial of such relief.”

The union filed its lawsuit seeking an injunction last Friday and held a hearing in front of Cowin on Wednesday.

SPAM President Michael Cherven said in a statement Friday night:

“To date, dozens of troopers have already submitted their resignation paperwork, some of whom plan to return to other departments offering reasonable alternatives such as mask wearing and regular testing.

The police union said it was “unfortunate” that alternatives were not offered:

“We are disappointed in the judge’s ruling; however, we respect her decision.

“It is unfortunate that the Governor and his team have chosen to mandate one of the most stringent vaccine mandates in the country with no reasonable alternatives.”

Gov. Charlie Baker ordered the vaccine mandate for all Executive Branch employees, including state police, on August 19. The mandate set an Oct. 17 deadline to be fully vaccinated.

Cherven said troopers have been on the front lines during the pandemic and should have been given consideration:

“Simply put, all we are asking for are the same basic accommodations that countless other departments have provided to their first responders, and to treat a COVID-related illness as a line-of-duty injury.”

The judge’s ruling leaves troopers with just days to decide whether to take the vaccine. Any officer who does not meet the deadline will be terminated.

Approximately 20% of Massachusetts State Police officers remain unvaccinated.

State police said that although some troopers may have begun the process for resignation or retirement, none had stepped down as of Friday because of the mandate:

“We will decline comment. No retirements occurred today because of the vaccine issue. There was only one retirement today, a Major (had nothing to do with the vaccine).

They may have submitted paperwork or indicated to the union that they plan to do so, but no retirement orders were cut today.”

SPAM said the mandate will lead to increased strain on an already understaffed law enforcement mission:

“The State Police are already critically short staffed and acknowledge this by the unprecedented moves to take officers from specialty units that investigate homicides, terrorism, computer crimes, arsons and human trafficking, to name just a few.”

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LA County Sheriff says city’s new mask mandate ‘not backed by science,’ refuses to enforce it

July 17, 2021

 

LOS ANGELES COUNTY, CA – As Los Angeles County gets ready to reinstate mask requirements for all persons, LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva is having none of it.

On Thursday, July 15, local health officials announced that, effective Saturday July 17th at 11:50 pm, indoor masking would be required for every person, regardless of immunization status.

Sheriff Villanueva, however, has criticized the new requirements, stating:

“Forcing the vaccinated and those who already contracted COVID-19 to wear masks indoors is not backed by science and contradicts the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.”

Indeed, the CDC states on their website:

If you are fully vaccinated, you can resume activities that you did prior to the pandemic.”

The CDC continues:

“Fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.”

In other words, the CDC’s own “science” permits activities with no mask restrictions (or distancing) in the vaccinated population.

Villanueva also indicated that the defunded status of L.A. County law enforcement was also a reason that mask guidelines would not be enforced.

He stated:

“The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (DPH) has authority to enforce the order, but the underfunded/defunded Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will not expend our limited resources and instead ask for voluntary compliance.”

The Sheriff concluded his statement by again referring to the lack of applied science in the mandate, saying:

“We encourage the DPH to work collaboratively with the Board of Supervisors and law enforcement to establish mandates that are both achievable and supported by science.”

According to County of Los Angeles Public Health,  masking will be required indoors, regardless of vaccination status, due to a “more than a seven-times increase in new cases since the June 15 reopening.”

LA County also compared figures of 210 cases of COVID-19 on June 15 with 1,537 new cases on July 15.  It also cited the test positivity rate as 0.5% on June 15, versus a positivity rate of 3.7% on July 15.

The county also added that the new mask requirement is due to “the increasing presence of the more easily transmitted Delta variant of the virus.”

The county statement continued in its explanation on the mask order:

“And while emerging data affirms that fully vaccinated people are well protected from severe infections with Delta variants, people with only one vaccine are not as well-protected, and there is evidence that a very small number of fully vaccinated individuals can become infected and may be able to infect others.”

Los Angeles County Health Officer Muntu Davis declared in a virtual press conference:

“Wearing a mask when indoors with others reduces both of getting and transmitting the virus .”

He continued:

“Masking indoors must again become a normal practice by all, regardless of vaccination status, so that we can stop the trends and level of transmission we are currently seeing.”

According to KTLA5, local health officials have stated that this new indoor mask mandate will continue “until the numbers of hospitalizations and cases improve.”

County Supervisor Kathryn Barger has indicated disagreement with making masks mandatory

She told WABC-TV:

“I don’t think it should be mandatory.” 

Barger went on to say:

“I think it should be recommended. 

“Every other county in the state to my knowledge, we are the only county that’s doing it mandatory.”

Responses to the mask mandate from local citizens has been varied.

ABC 7 Eyewitness News interviewed one local resident, Francisco Felix, who appeared to be fully in favor of the mandate.

He said:

“My reaction is simple:  Just wear it, be safe about it.  

“I mean, protect others as you go along…. 

“I mean, I’d rather just wear it than just not to.”

Local resident Kyla Speakman, on the other hand, told the station she was “a little upset” about the mandate.

She said:

“I’m a little upset, but, I mean, I get it.  I get why people wear masks in hospitals and everything like that.

“But I mean just to be, I mean, going to the gym, it’s not like we’re all on top of each other.”

ABC7 also found those who apparently saw the masking as a “punish[ment]” and were “resentful” of the unvaccinated.

Justin Sevakis of Glendale told the news channel:

”It feels like the the burden of the unvaccinated is being placed on the vaccinated.”

He continued:

“It’s like there are people that don’t have common sense and so therefore all of us have to pay for it – and it sucks. 

“It feels like, you know, the teacher is punishing the whole class.”
 

 

 

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