CHARLOTTE — In a letter sent to Charlotte leaders, including the mayor, the organizations representing both police officers and firefighters said they do not believe workers should be forced to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
The letter from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Fraternal Order of Police, the Charlotte FireFighters Association and the UE150 Charlotte Chapter -- a member-run organization made up of thousands of state and city workers -- was sent to Mayor Vi Lyles, Charlotte city councilmembers, City Manager Marcus Jones and Assistant City Managers Taiwo Jaiyeoba and Tracy Dodson.
In it, the organizations said they “stand united in opposition to a COVID vaccine mandate for Charlotte employees.”
The city currently does not have a vaccine mandate in place for workers.
“We understand how COVID has impacted Charlotte but believe all medical decisions shall be an individual choice,” the letter stated. “Our organizations do support and encourage our respective members to get vaccinated.”
The city of Charlotte had asked all workers to disclose their vaccination status by Aug. 24. As of two weeks ago, the vaccination rate for frontline employees was at 51%.
“Each employee’s health and beliefs are unique and this vaccine should be a discussion between them and their medical provider, not elected officials,” the letter said. “Governmental agencies that impose mandates that go against individual beliefs and rights are dangerous and should not be permitted.”
The city is providing cash from the American Rescue Plan to boost vaccination rates. All employees vaccinated by Sept. 30 will get $250. If 75% of city workers get the shot, they’ll all get another $250.
“Your employees have courageously fought through this pandemic and should not be faced with an uncertain future because of a vaccination mandate,” the letter concluded. “As the voice of your employees, do not mandate the COVID-19 vaccine.”
Some councilmembers have asked why the city manager hasn’t already mandated the vaccines.
“It seems fiscally and operationally imprudent to not mandate vaccines for employees,” Councilman Braxton Winston said.
The city manager said a vaccine mandate has been discussed and is possible in the future, but he wants to see the response to the incentives first.
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