(WDVM) — The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) is enforcing a new COVID-19 vaccination and testing policy beginning on September 7, 2021. The General Manager and Chief Executive Officer of WMATA, Paul Wiedefeld, sent the update to employees in a memo on Tuesday, August 17.
In the memo, Wiedefeld notes that 45% of WMATA employees are fully vaccinated, with some departments having vaccination rates as high as 79%.
“We need to do better to protect our workforce and our customers from COVID infection, especially given the prevalence of the Delta variant in our region,” he said.
The policy going into effect on September 7 requires all employees to upload one of three documents in the employee portal: proof of vaccination, a negative COVID-19 test that is no more than one week old or a request for medical or religious accommodation. This policy will be in place until further notice, according to the memo from Wiedefeld.
While there are three options for the employee portal, the memo goes on to note that without proof of vaccination, employees will be responsible for getting weekly negative COVID-19 test results and uploading them to the employee portal. WMATA is not paying for the tests and is requiring employees to be responsible for scheduling their tests.
The Local 689 Amalgamated Transit Union President, Raymond Jackson, issued a statement on the memo.
“Vaccines are the most effective way to save lives during this pandemic. I myself caught COVID and can tell you that I still live with the health consequences to this day. WMATA’s proposal will still allow members to opt-out of the shot in favor of weekly testing. It is still our position that testing should be paid for and provided for by the employer. We will continue negotiations with WMATA on the implementation of this policy. We also look forward to working with WMATA on enforcement of its mask mandate policy on public transit,” he said.
If employees do not comply with the updated policy, the memo said there will be immediate ineligibility to work and progressive discipline will take place. The memo also notes that new hires will be required to show proof of vaccination before starting work with Metro.