Winston-Salem council to hear employee COVID-19 vaccination policy proposal

Piedmont Triad News

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — This Tuesday, the City of Winston-Salem’s Community Development/Housing/General Government Committee will discuss a resolution to authorize City Manager Lee Garrity to implement an approved COVID-19 vaccination policy for all city employees.

This comes as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is in the process of developing a rule requiring employers with more than 100 employees to mandate vaccines for all employees and weekly testing for unvaccinated employees.

“This is an issue, the vaccines, that people are very divided on,” Garrity said Monday.

Under the city’s proposal, full-time employees who are vaccinated, or get vaccinated within a six-week period, would be offered a one-time $1,000 incentive payment. Part-time city employees would be offered $500.

“Get some money before Christmas and get vaccinated and do the right thing,” Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines said.

After the six-week period, unvaccinated employees would be required to undergo weekly testing.

Employees who choose not to be vaccinated against COVID-19 would no longer be considered for promotions.

“Really kind of focusing on being a public servant and a leader in the community,” Garrity said. “A leader in the city and getting vaccinated.”

The proposal also says the city manager reserved the right to take additional measures, “including but not limited to applying an increase to health insurance premiums to unvaccinated employees.”

“We believe that the only way to get this pandemic under control is for folks to be vaccinated, and so I think the city manager is offering incentives to get that going, or the testing, and it’s possible in the future that we may go to a more mandated vaccination requirement,” Joines added.

Garrity cites similar policies enacted by other North Carolina cities. Last month, City of Greensboro leaders said they are “in the process of drafting a proposal for mandatory vaccination or weekly testing for all employees, pending data on spread rate.” That proposal may also be heard this month.

Garrity says the City of Winston-Salem employs about 3,000 people.

Winston-Salem’s proposal, which could be adopted next Monday, would become effective on a date later determined by Garrity.

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