Buildings May Now Require 32BJ Employees Be Vaccinated, Provided Certain Protocols Are Followed

October 4, 2021 Advisory

Under a Memorandum of Agreement dated Sept. 30, 2021, between Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 32BJ and the Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations, Inc. (RAB), employer-members of the RAB may require that their building service employees be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Both employers and their employees must satisfy certain conditions if such a requirement is implemented. 

Importantly, in the Memorandum, SEIU and RAB “fully and unequivocally encourage and support all individuals (including . . . employees, managers . . . ) to become fully vaccinated against COVID-19 . . .”

Armstrong Teasdale’s Cooperative and Condominium Law attorneys can help guide clients through the vaccine compliance requirements. In short, however:

  • employers must inform their employees in writing that a vaccination mandate is being considered and request the employees’ status;
  • employees must provide their vaccination status within one week. If they are vaccinated, a copy of the proof of vaccination shall be maintained separately from other employee information;
  • employees who are unwilling to be vaccinated must provide their reason for refusing vaccination, including whether they are seeking an exemption in accordance with applicable law, including the Americans with Disabilities Act;
  • no sooner than two weeks after an employer has requested vaccination status, it may provide notice to SEIU and all employees of its vaccination policy, and require that employees obtain the first shot of a two-shot vaccine or a single-dose vaccine no sooner than four weeks from the date of the notice. The second dose, if applicable, must be no less than eight weeks from the date of the notice; and
  • an employee who is not entitled to an exemption, but who does not get vaccinated, may elect (a) to take an unpaid leave of absence for up to four months (and may return to their position upon being fully vaccinated) – however, if they are not vaccinated, the building is not required to take them back; or (b) to be put on a recall list through March 1, 2022, or six months from their last day of work (whichever is later) to be placed in the same or similar position at the same building to the extent positions become available, provided the employee becomes fully vaccinated or the building’s vaccination requirement is lifted. If the unvaccinated employee does not elect (a) or (b), above, the employee shall be separated from employment with a non-disciplinary termination, which shall not be deemed a voluntary separation nor a termination for misconduct.

If a resident manager or resident superintendent seeks a leave of absence, or to be placed on a recall list, the building may assert that a leave is not feasible due to coverage needs. There, the SEIU and employer shall meet to try and resolve the dispute and, if unable to do so, it shall be arbitrated on an expedited basis, i.e., within two weeks after the SEIU and employer were unable to come to agreement.

Prior to, or in lieu of, a vaccination mandate, employers may, upon one-week written notice to the SEIU and impacted employees, require that all unvaccinated employees, other than those approved for accommodations, undergo PCR testing on non-work time up to two times per week.  Results must be submitted to their employer.

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