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SEIU and ABOMA Agree on COVID-19 Vaccination Rules for Unionized Employees

Posted: October 4, 2021

SEIU and ABOMA Agree on COVID-19 Vaccination Rules for Unionized Employees

This alert contains time-sensitive material – all building owners or condominium associations that wish to require vaccination must “opt-in” by October 12, 2021

As COVID-19 continues to ravage our country and vaccination levels stagnate, a growing trend of employers requiring a COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment has emerged. Vaccine requirements aren’t new – schools have long required children to submit proof of vaccinations as a condition of enrollment – but mandating evidence of the new and novel COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment raises a host of legal issues. Until now, condominium associations and other residential building owners could not, under operable collective bargaining agreements (CBAs), require COVID-19 vaccinations from their unionized door persons, receiving room, or janitorial staff. Residents of these buildings may expect that building employees who enter their units are vaccinated, but without a vaccination mandate, there is no guarantee of that expectation becoming a reality.

On September 27, 2021, ABOMA (the Apartment Building Owners and Managers Association of Illinois) and SEIU (the union responsible for representing door/receiving room and janitorial staff) entered into two memorandums of understanding (MOUs) that now allow ABOMA-member buildings to “opt-in” to requiring COVID-19 vaccinations as a condition of continued employment. In order to do so, an ABOMA-member building MUST complete an authorization form (available here: https://www.saul.com/sites/default/files/sites/default/files/documents/MOU%20Authorization%20Form.pdf) and submit it to aboma1@aol.com no later than October 12, 2021.

The MOUs, which apply to building engineers, maintenance staff (janitorial and others), door persons, and receiving room staff, allow a residential building owner (or condominium association) to require unionized staff members to obtain COVID-19 vaccinations as a condition of continued employment if the following conditions are met:

  • The opt-in form must be completed by October 12, 2021;
  • Employees must be given forty-five days advance notice of the requirement;
  • Employees must have the capability to request an exemption where the employee is unable to become vaccinated because of pregnancy, disability, or religious reasons;
  • The employer must allow the employee up to four hours of paid leave time for each required dose of the vaccine;
  • The employer must grant up to one day of paid leave time for all employees who experience side effects from the vaccine that makes them unable to work (and this leave time cannot count toward the paid sick time employees already receive under the CBAs); and
  • Employees must still abide by “masking and other safety requirements.”

For door/receiving room staff, the MOU provides a five percent “hazard pay” increase of those employees’ regular wages for all time that the employee is required to work as an “essential frontline worker” when a stay-at-home order is in effect and only essential workers are allowed to work.

Condominium associations and building owners who wish to require their unionized employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 must be sure to comply with the MOUs’ requirement of opting-in by October 12, 2021. In addition, because there are legal considerations that extend beyond complying with a collective bargaining agreement in mandating employee vaccines, any employers considering such a mandate should first consult with their regular Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr legal counsel.