City hasn’t reached an agreement with its unions about requiring employee vaccinations

A member of San Mateo County’s health team administers a Covid vaccine. Photo courtesy of San Mateo County.

Daily Post Staff Writer

The city of Palo Alto hasn’t enacted a Covid vaccine requirement for its employees, despite management holding meetings with union leaders over the past two weeks.

The Post wanted to ask City Manager Ed Shikada why it has taken so long, but he did not agree to an interview and had the city’s PR spokeswoman, Meghan Horrigan-Taylor, send an email in response.

“The city has made significant progress working collaboratively with our union groups on this topic, and as the meet-and-confer process with our labor partners is legally obligated and confidential, the city is not able to discuss specific details,” Horrigan-Taylor wrote in an email.

She said more information should be released by the end of the month, which is Tuesday, Aug. 31.

A 1905 Supreme Court case, Jacobson v. Massachusetts, upheld the authority of governments to enforce compulsory vaccination laws.

Many cities and school systems in California have enacted vaccination or test requirements, including San Francisco, San Jose, Stanford and the Palo Alto Unified School District.

At least 80% of Palo Alto city employees have been vaccinated.

At Monday’s council meeting, Councilman Eric Filseth talked about a trip he made last week to Canada, where all federal employees, employees in federally regulated industries and travelers on airlines, trains and cruises must be vaccinated by the end of September.

“I thought that was quite interesting. Meanwhile, here in the United States,” he said, trailing off with a chuckle.
Reached by phone the next day, he said vaccine requirements make a great deal of sense in places where people are in constant contact with each other.

“It’s part of being (in) society, just like you don’t drink and drive,” he said.

He declined to comment on talks with the unions, but said he thinks everybody is trying to do the right thing.