SPRINGFIELD — After recently reaching three union agreements requiring vaccines for certain state workers, Governor JB Pritzker announced the fourth such agreement has been reached with multiple Illinois trade unions working in congregate settings. This progress has been reached as negotiations are ongoing with AFSCME representatives.
This agreement will ensure employees at facilities such as the Shapiro Developmental Center, Menard Correctional Center and Quincy Veteran’s Home are protected with the COVID-19 vaccines. Given the provisions in the previous agreements the state made with VR-704, the Illinois Nurses Association and Illinois Federation of Public Employees, the deadline for all employees covered by vaccine agreements to get their first shot has been extended to October 26.
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State employees who remain unvaccinated pose a significant risk to individuals in Illinois' congregate facilities. Therefore, if employees do not receive the vaccine or an exemption by the dates identified, progressive disciplinary measures will be implemented, which may ultimately lead to discharge. The agreement includes a process whereby employees can seek an exemption based on medical contraindications or sincerely-held religious beliefs.
“Leadership by President Biden and businesses across the country show that vaccine requirements work,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “I’m proud to announce that Illinois has reached our fourth union agreement to ensure those we serve are protected. Vaccination remains our strongest tool to stay safe from COVID-19 and protect our children.”
Following Gov. Pritzker’s announcement that all state workers who work in state-run congregate facilities would be required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, the agreements covering 1, 990 workers have been made:
- VR-704: 260 supervisory employees at the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) and the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). Agreement reached on September 20, 2021.
- Illinois Nurses Association: approximately 1,100 nurses working in 24/7 facilities like McFarland Mental Health Facility, Quincy Veterans' Home and Jacksonville Correctional Center. Agreement reached on October 7, 2021.
- Illinois Federation of Public Employees: approximately 160 employees working in Human Services and Veterans' Affairs. Agreement reached on October 7, 2021.
- Illinois Trade Unions: approximately 470 employees working in 24/7 facilities such as Menard Corrections Center, Shapiro Developmental Center and Quincy Veteran’s Home.
To further encourage vaccinations under the agreements with the unions, employees will receive an additional personal day. If the vaccine administration is not available during an employee's regularly scheduled shift, the employee may be compensated at their regular pay for the time taken to receive the vaccine. In addition, vaccinated employees will receive paid "COVID time," so that if a vaccinated employee gets COVID-19 they will receive a period of paid time off without using their benefit time.
The administration has taken extensive measures to make the COVID-19 vaccine equitable and accessible. The Pritzker administration established 25 mass vaccination sites. The Illinois National Guard supported more than 800 mobile vaccination clinics on top of an additional 1,705 state-supported mobile sites that focused on communities hardest hit by the pandemic, young residents, and rural communities. The COVID-19 vaccine has been available for healthcare and nursing home workers since December 15, 2020, and open to teachers since January 25, 2021.
Vaccination is the key to ending the COVID-19 pandemic and returning to normal life. All Illinois residents over the age of 12 are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at no cost and proof of immigration status is not required to receive the vaccine. To find a vaccination center near you, visit vaccines.gov.