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John Abeigon, president of the Newark Teachers Union, told district teachers today they should expect a vaccine mandate for all school stafff. In an email to members he wrote, “like California, and soon to be NJ and Newark, be prepared for vaccine mandates upon returning to work,” adding, “be vaccinated or get tested once a week at your own (co-pay) expense.”
This news was first reported by Chalkbeat.
Abeigon’s prediction is interesting because yesterday union officials from the American Federation of Teachers decided that members should negotiate potential vaccine mandates with local school systems. “We believe that workplace policies should be done with working people, not to them,” AFT President Randi Weingarten said in a statement yesterday. Newark Teachers Union is a branch of AFT.
The vast majority of New Jersey local unions are part of the National Education Association. NEA, unlike AFT, has endorsed vaccine mandates for school staff members.
Abeigon said, “I think it’s only a matter of time” until the district announces a mandate, adding that the union told district officials it would support a vaccine-or-weekly-testing requirement for school workers. “The NTU has been pushing for mandatory vaccinations for students and staff since the vaccines were approved. We know that they’re considering it because they had a discussion with us,” he said Thursday, adding that he wasn’t sure why the district has yet to impose a mandate. “I don’t know what they’re waiting for.”
It’s unclear if Gov. Phil Murphy, currently on vacation in Italy, would (or could) impose a vaccine mandate for students.
According to Newark Superintendent Roger Leon, the Covid vaccination rate among district employees, many of them not NTU members, is only 32%. The vaccination rate for adults in Newark is 58%. The rate across NJ is 72%.