Sacramento Mayor Steinberg targets public safety unions over city employee vaccination requirements

During a news conference held at the Pannell Community Center this morning, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and City Council Member Katie Valenquela and Mai Vang announced their intentions to make vaccinations mandatory for all city employees, including those in public safety with collective bargaining agreements. 

In his comments, Steinberg took aim at public safety employees, saying it was shocking to see the unwillingness of some of these employees choose to be unvaccinated while serving constituents. 

"It is shocking, frankly, to see the statistics when it comes to vaccination rates for our city employees, especially our public safety employees," Steinberg said. "We must show the way; we must lead the way."

Steinberg added all eight Sacramento City Council members support requiring city employees to be vaccinated.  

"Those who preach the importance of investing in public safety need to see this health crisis as public safety and help lead the way," he said. "Certainly everybody who hold the public trust and signs up to be a public employee, especially a public safety employee in the city, needs to get vaccinated - period, end of sentence." 

Opening the press conference was District 8 Councilmember Mai Vang, who organized the event. Vang noted District 8 has the highest numbers of COVID cases city and countywide and claimed over half of Sacramento city public safety employees are unvaccinated.  

"With more than half of our public safety personnel unvaccinated, it means that our frontline defense has no defense," Vang said. "We must do what we can to protect the health of our community.” 

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg criticizes public safety unions during a Friday news
conference announcing vaccination requirements. | 

Other speakers at the event included District 4 Sacramento City Councilmember Katie Valenzuela, who also mentioned public safety employees in her comments. 

"Our frontline workers, particularly our fire and police department, are interacting with the public every day; we know what the means if they are symptomatic or asymptomatic," she said.  

When asked about negotiations with the Sacramento Police Offices Associations, Sacramento Area Fire Fighters Local 522, and other bargaining units, Steinberg said they respect the process and are currently in talks with the unions regarding the requirements.

He noted, "we are pushing our insistence that all city workers be vaccinated very, very hard, and we are going to continue to do so" and "try to convince them this is the right thing to do."

When asked how he would characterize the negotiations, Steinberg cited recent public comments from union leaders. 

"They don't like it; they believe it is a choice, in fact, they've said that very clearly," Steinberg said.

"This is not a choice, it's not a matter of individual choice - you're individual choice stops when it runs headlong into the public health, public safety."

In a post on their Facebook page (see below), the SPOA objects to the vacation requirement, saying they "strongly support the individual choice of our members regarding vaccinations."

Steinberg added, "you cannot be for public safety every day of the year and say protecting the safety and health of the people you serve is a choice and an option."

The entire press conference can be heard in the video below. 

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