Jeramey Jannene
City Hall

Firefighters Union Approves Vaccine-or-Mask Requirement

Voluntary agreement similar to ones adopted by city's police unions.

By - Dec 23rd, 2021 06:25 pm
Milwaukee Fire Department fire truck. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Milwaukee Fire Department fire truck. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Acting Mayor Cavalier Johnson pledged to increase the city’s vaccination rate in a bid to fight COVID-19. Shortly after being ceremonially sworn in Thursday, he was able to announce a new policy that could do just that.

The Milwaukee Professional Firefighters Association (Local 215) adopted a vaccine-or-mask agreement similar to those adopted by the city’s two police unions.

“Throughout city government, there is agreement that our employees must take appropriate precautions to avoid COVID infections,” said Johnson in a press release. “I appreciate all the public safety unions approving the vaccination requirements for the good of their members, their families, their colleagues, and the community.”

Firefighters now have until Jan. 31 to be vaccinated or they must wear a mask while on duty, except while eating or drinking. Failure to comply with the mask requirement could result in suspension and ultimately termination.

Members that were previously vaccinated will receive two hours of compensation. The vaccine-or-mask requirement applies to MPFA members, regardless of previous infection status.

Outgoing Mayor Tom Barrett announced the first vaccine-or-mask agreement with the Milwaukee Police Supervisors’ Organization on Oct. 14. It came after the mandate for general city workers was announced. In one of his last acts in office Wednesday, he announced that the Milwaukee Police Association agreed to a similar mandate.

But MPA leadership claims rank-and-file officers don’t like it.

“The union and its hardworking members are not happy with this agreement and felt pressured into accepting it,” said president Andy Wagner in a statement provided to Urban Milwaukee. “The City only presented two options to choose from, and would not budge. Option one provided for an exemption to vaccination by agreeing to wear a mask, and option two was that the City would implement a mandatory vaccine requirement resulting in termination for non-compliance. Option two would have led to a drawn out court battle in which our members would have been subject to termination while awaiting a decision. The members were presented with both options and ultimately decided to sign the agreement rather than hang in limbo while awaiting a court decision.”

All sworn members of the Milwaukee Fire Department and Milwaukee Police Department are now required to be vaccinated or masked.

The approximately 3,200 general city workers, including civilians within MPD and MFD, don’t have the mask option. They were required to be vaccinated by Oct. 29 or face possible suspension or termination. Limited medical or religious exceptions, subject to Department of Employee Relations approval, are available. As of Dec. 13, DER reported that 97% of general city workers complied with the vaccine mandate. Approximately 30 were suspended for non-compliance and approximately 10 chose to resign or retire. General city employees had their right to negotiate anything but raises taken away with the passage of Governor Scott Walker‘s Act 10 legislation in 2011.

The MPFA agreement is in effect through the end of 2022 unless mutually extended.

More about the Coronavirus Pandemic

Read more about Coronavirus Pandemic here

Categories: City Hall, Health, Weekly

2 thoughts on “City Hall: Firefighters Union Approves Vaccine-or-Mask Requirement”

  1. NieWiederKrieg says:

    How will taxpaying citizens of Milwaukee know if an unmasked police officer or firefighter is vaccinated or unvaccinated? The days of “the honor system” have long disappeared. Unvaccinated cops and firefighters should be required to wear a unique, non-standard color of uniform. The public will be better able to protect themselves in case of emergency.

  2. Mingus says:

    Leadership in Police and Firefighter Unions continually seem to continually be very conservative with a agenda at obstructing any type of meaningful policy like vaccine requirements which would protect police officers and the public. These unions should be limited in what they can negotiate like other public employee unions since their leadership most every meaningful reform that is proposed.

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us