Biden executive order leads Dartmouth to extend vaccine mandate to remote workers

Federal guidelines suggest that non-compliant workers may not have their contracts renewed.

by Angus Yip | 10/21/21 5:05 am

Under federal guidelines that require federal contractors to comply with vaccine mandates, all full-time and part-time faculty and staff at Dartmouth, as well as anyone with a temporary appointment, will be required to submit proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or obtain medical or religious exemption by December 8.

On September 9, President Joe Biden signed Executive Order 14042, which requires federal contractors to require their employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The College has a legal obligation to ensure full adherence to the vaccination policy by employees because it receives funding from the federal government, according to College spokesperson Diana Lawrence.

Federal vaccine mandate comes after college implemented its own COVID-19 vaccine mandate for Dartmouth staff. On June 23, the College announcement that all faculty and staff accessing College facilities were required to submit proof of COVID-19 vaccination by September 1.

Unlike Dartmouth’s original rules, the federal mandate will also apply to employees who have been approved for fully remote work, Acting Marshal David Kotz announced on Community Conversations on October 13. Human resources manager Scot Bemis emailed employees at Dartmouth on Monday asking for proof of vaccination or medical or religious exemptions.

Student employees will follow student vaccination policies, Lawrence wrote in an emailed statement, meaning all students enrolled in in-person classes are required to show proof of vaccination or a valid waiver.

The Safer Federal Workforce Task Force, which is responsible for implementing Biden’s decree, states that “employees must be fully immunized by the first day of the performance period of a newly awarded covered contract,” suggesting that non-compliant workers cannot renew their contracts.

The exact processes for non-compliant employees after Dec. 8 are still under review by the college’s COVID-19 response management, Lawrence wrote.

Lawrence wrote that the College will contact employees who have not submitted full vaccination documentation or obtained an exemption. The validity of exemption requests will be assessed by the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity, according to Lawrence. She added that medical exemptions must come from a health care provider, while employees will draft and submit their own religious exemption requests. She did not specify what guidelines the office will use to determine whether an application is valid.

The president of Local 560 of the International Union of Service Employees, Chris Peck, said the union will try to represent the interests of all workers, including those facing the consequences of not fulfilling the mandate. However, he added that it is still unclear whether the union will help non-compliant workers obtain legal aid as the union’s board must vote on the matter.

“Some council members probably wouldn’t want to [vote to help these workers find legal aid]because they had a choice to get shot and chose not to, ”said Peck.

Peck noted that based on discussions with lawyers, he predicts that non-compliant employees are unlikely to be successful in a court case.

“When we file a grievance, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re going to be able to save someone… it’s just a matter of following a process to ensure that they are legally represented and treated fairly,” he said. declared.

Peck said he advised workers who strongly resist vaccination to obtain medical or religious waiver, although he is not sure how difficult it is to obtain one.

According to Lawrence, 3,854 faculty and staff have already submitted documentation of their full immunization status, contributing to a current total community immunization rate of 92 percent. The community vaccination rate includes all undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and staff.

Senior programmer and college advancement analyst Stew Stryker said he was “generally supportive” of the federal mandate.

“I think everyone is eager to get back to business as usual… and for me, this is the only way to move forward,” Stryker said. “That way we can be free again, we can relax our standards and come back to a more relaxed way of life.”

Stryker said he believed that while some staff did “not necessarily” support the mandate, the majority of them would respect the mandate in order to keep their jobs.

Peck said he “strongly [recommends]”That every worker be vaccinated. About 90% of service staff are union members, he noted, but the union’s 350 or so members make up less than 10% of the more than 4,000 staff and faculty on campus.

He says he receives an email from the College when a union employee receives an exemption, but doesn’t know how many unionized employees in Dartmouth are still not vaccinated.

Peck said the union had helped members get a list of locations where they had their favorite vaccine if they needed help.

The federal vaccine mandate is one of many vaccine mandates that the Biden administration is rolling out. The White House too announcement September 9 that all federal workers must be vaccinated or obtain an exemption by November 22.

In addition, all workers in companies with more than 100 employees must be fully vaccinated or perform weekly tests for the virus. The deadline for these workers to be fully vaccinated has not been announced.