YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Youngstown Mayor Tito Brown is asking for voluntary COVID-19 vaccine compliance but is falling short of a full mandate, for now.
Brown had been working to get the city’s 700 employees vaccinated for some time and said it is only coincidence that his policy came out at the same time that President Biden’s nationwide mandate went into effect.
Brown had been asking employees to voluntarily get vaccinated for several weeks. Now, employees must confirm vaccination status or show a verified test. The policy goes into effect Nov. 15.
Testing will be covered by employee health care insurance.
So far, 50% of the city workforce is vaccinated. He said keeping employees on the job has been a challenge.
“Just a prime example, we had an individual on a sanitation truck test positive. Now, we have three guys off because they were all in contact. That’s how this will affect us,” Brown said.
Brown said that since Moderna and Johnson and Johnson are still only authorized for emergency use, he cannot fully mandate vaccinations. Once the FDA approves other providers, he can consider a full mandate.
The Youngstown Police Association responded to Brown’s policy announcement saying they are dismayed with the policy and say it will impact their recruitment and retention in the department.
We just spent months on recruitment and retention as our numbers dwindle only to have the mayor talking about a mandate that will cause some of our members to leave…we can’t afford to lose anyone else here for any reason, let alone a vaccine mandate.
The YPA believes it is the right of the person to choose to get the vaccine based on their personal needs, not be forced for some political reason. It is also odd that for the past 20 months of this pandemic that no one has been forced to test weekly and all of a sudden you will be required, seems punattive for not getting the vaccine.James Rowley, president of the Youngstown Police Association
Youngstown Firefighters Local 132 issued a statement Friday echoing the police association’s concerns about staffing and the policy.
Local 312 would also like to highlight the fact that the Youngstown Fire Department has been dealing with a serious staff shortage for years now, as we’ve seen through daily station shutdowns. We believe that a vaccine mandate will only increase that burden. The fire department and the citizens of Youngstown can not afford to lose anymore firefighters, especially when it comes to forcing an individual’s personal medical decision.
Local 312 stands alongside the Youngstown Police Association in our belief that being vaccinated is a person’s choice and not a choice that should be made by a city leader or government officialCharlie Smith, IAFF L312 president
The Youngstown Police Ranking Officers Organization sent a letter to Mayor Brown saying that the policy is “disappointing” and that the mayor did not consult with the union representatives.
There is no reason that this policy could not have been discussed, refined, and improved through negotiations with the affected unions. We must respectfully demand that you delay the implementation of this policy until such a time that the City’s has met its obligation to negotiate the effects of this mandate.Sean Carfolo, president of the Youngstown Police Ranking Officers Organization
Brown added that there could be some incentives for those who get the vaccine.
“We’re looking at maybe some health care premium incentive for those who are vaccinated or get a vaccine,’ he said.