Los Angeles city employees who have not been vaccinated will have to fork over $130 each week to cover COVID-19 testing but will have a longer deadline to get the shots or lose their jobs, according to a plan passed by lawmakers Tuesday.
City workers originally had until Oct. 20 to get fully vaccinated but now they have until Dec. 18. During the extended period, unvaccinated workers will have $65 deducted from their paychecks twice a week to cover the cost of weekly testing, or $260 per pay period.
The plan was approved in a 13-0 vote. Councilman Jose Buscaino was absent from Tuesday's meeting and Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas is suspended after being charged in a federal corruption probe.
The city has been negotiating its vaccine mandate with labor unions for weeks. The Service Employees International Union Local 721, the union that represents thousands of city employees, said it had "exhausted all pathways to an agreement" with the city.
"We have not agreed to the City’s vaccine mandate ordinance, nor have we agreed to how they are implementing it," the union said in a statement.
The council passed an ordinance in August requiring city employees to get vaccinated unless they were exempted for medical or religious reasons. The requirement became a condition for employment last week.
Workers seeking such exemptions will get tested twice weekly but will be reimbursed if the exemptions are granted.
Last week, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti warned workers who were hesitant to comply with the mandate.
"Let me be clear: any employee who refuses to be vaccinated by this date should be prepared to lose their job," he said in a statement. "Employees must be vaccinated by December 18, and we are putting a rigorous testing program into place in the meantime."
Employees who are not vaccinated will be required to sign a notice instructing them to turn in proof of vaccination by the Dec. 18 deadline. Failure to sign the notice or comply with it will result in "immediate corrective action," the plan states.
Around 77% of the city's 53,000-member workforce have been partially vaccinated, LAist reported. Another 5,151 employees have requested exemptions – 4,287 citing religious reasons and 864 applying for a medical exemption.