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OSP union negotiates with state on vaccine mandate

Senior trooper Joshua Wetzel, president of the Oregon State Police Officer's Association, said the union didn't sign a letter of agreement with the state regarding the vaccine mandate.

Posted: Oct 19, 2021 7:22 PM
Updated: Oct 20, 2021 8:17 AM

EUGENE, Ore. - One Oregon State Police union is putting up a fight over the vaccine mandate, saying they have concerns about the security of the statewide database. 

Senior Trooper Joshua Wetzel, president of the Oregon State Police Officer's Association, said the union didn't sign a letter of agreement with the state regarding the vaccine mandate. One reason is the database they would have to input vaccination status.

"It's not secure. We are putting vaccination records online, which we don't put vaccination records for anything online at this point. Right? Any medical stuff we have is from a doctor verifying that we've met proper medical conditions for being a police officer, and it's very generic like that. With a vaccine card or our exemptions, we are putting very detailed information onto a system that anybody has access to," Wetzel said.

This comes after thousands of state employees accidentally had their vaccination status released to two media outlets this week.

A spreadsheet of more than 40 thousand employees was sent to The Oregonian and The Statesman Journal. It was supposed to contain the latest vaccination and exemption rates for each executive branch agency overseen by Governor Kate Brown.

Instead, an Oregon Department of Administrative Services director emailed a file to the outlets containing vaccination status by employee name.

The newspapers said they wouldn't publish the data.

Wetzel said the state has assured them that the system is secure and that only a small amount of people have access. 

Other unions did sign an agreement, which he said gives them an extension to Nov. 30 to be fully vaccinated and past two weeks of their final dose.

Wetzel said around 10 of his union members got their shots, but they were not past the two-week mark when the deadline hit. Meaning, they can't come into work and are currently on administrative leave. They now will have to individually undergo a formal investigation in the coming months.

"It's kind of weird that people are in compliance, but because they weren't in compliance of the date with what the governor said, Oct. 18, then the state is treating them as if they aren't in compliance," Wetzel said.

The Department of Administrative Services reported today, 778 Oregon State Police members are associated with OSTOA.
OSP said out of their 1267 employees, 78% are fully vaccinated.

15% received an approved exemption. 96% of those are religious exemptions, and 4% of those are medical. 7% of submitted exemptions are still pending.

Wetzel said their union believes that before the state can change a fundamental condition of employment, it must be negotiated.

The union said the members of the association shouldn't be threatened with the loss of their job without first being given an opportunity for input into the process.

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