Dayton put 18 on leave who refuse testing; 3 others positive for COVID

The City of Dayton is requiring all people who enter city owned buildings to wear a masks because of COVID-19. JIM NOELKER/STAFF
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The City of Dayton is requiring all people who enter city owned buildings to wear a masks because of COVID-19. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Credit: JIM NOELKER

The city of Dayton on Monday released complete data for the first week of its new COVID vaccination/testing policy, saying 18 employees were sent home on unpaid leave for refusing to comply last week.

City officials said the absences — which were heavily concentrated in the police and fire departments — did not lead to any service disruptions.

Zach Williams, a member of the Dayton Fraternal Order of Police’s executive board, agreed there have not been service disruptions, but he said some police personnel are off work and it’s unclear what’s going to happen since the city and its fire and police unions haven’t met in a week.

“Unfortunately we can’t talk much during negotiations,” he said. “... nothing’s really changed right now.”

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Dayton City Hall receptionist Brenda Andrews said. “I totally agree with the vaccine mandate. It’s getting critical again and I don’t want to get sick.” Jim Noelker/Staff

Credit: Jim Noelker

Dayton City Hall receptionist Brenda Andrews said. “I totally agree with the vaccine mandate. It’s getting critical again and I don’t want to get sick.” Jim Noelker/Staff
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Dayton City Hall receptionist Brenda Andrews said. “I totally agree with the vaccine mandate. It’s getting critical again and I don’t want to get sick.” Jim Noelker/Staff

Credit: Jim Noelker

Credit: Jim Noelker

The city’s police, fire, building trades and blue collar and clerical unions claim the city’s new policy is unlawful because it violates the terms of their contracts by changing work conditions without approval.

Last week, the city began requiring municipal employees to be vaccinated or take part in weekly COVID-19 testing.

The city last week tested 523 employees who haven’t been vaccinated or who refused to disclose their vaccination status. The city has about 1,820 workers.

About 40% of employees in the police and fire departments were tested — larger shares of their payrolls than other city departments, city data show.

Additionally, 12 of the 18 employees who were sent home on unpaid leave for refusing testing were in the police and fire departments.

Three of the employees who the city tested did test positive for COVID-19, officials said.

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A sanitation worker cleans the front desk area at Dayton City Hall. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

A sanitation worker cleans the front desk area at Dayton City Hall. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF
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A sanitation worker cleans the front desk area at Dayton City Hall. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

A couple of employees in the public works and water departments who were sent home for refusing testing have returned to work after getting a negative PCR (molecular) COVID-19 test, said Kenneth Couch, Dayton’s HR director.

Employees who were sent home will remain on unpaid leave to until they present a negative test they have to pay for, Couch said, and workers could face discipline if they remain on unpaid leave for an extended period and miss too much work.

Couch met with police and fire union leaders on Nov. 1, and both sides said they thought it was a productive conversation.

The city might consider making some changes to the policy the unions want, Couch said, but he also said the city’s policy does not require the approval of the unions because it is a workplace safety measure.

The unions contend the policy unilaterally changes their terms and conditions of employment, violating their contracts.

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