Dayton puts a dozen employees on leave for refusing testing

Dayton City Hall. FILE PHOTO

Credit: Ty Greenlees

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Dayton City Hall. FILE PHOTO

Credit: Ty Greenlees

Credit: Ty Greenlees

New COVID vaccine/testing policy started this week

The city of Dayton this week administered COVID-19 tests to more than 400 workers who are not vaccinated or declined to share their vaccination status, and about a dozen employees have been sent home for refusing testing, city officials said.

The city on Monday started weekly testing of its employees who have not confirmed they are fully vaccinated from the virus.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

The policy requires that employees who do not get the shots, or who won’t say whether they have, must get tested at work every seven days.

Three employees in the fire department, three employees in the police department and three water department workers were sent home on unpaid leave for declining to take part in testing, said Ken Couch, Dayton’s human resources director.

ExploreEarlier: Unions said policy could create staffing crisis

Two employees in public works and one in the finance department also were sent home for the same reason, he said.

Of the city’s 1,800 employees, about 1,176 are vaccinated (65% of total), the city said. About 439 employees have been tested this week, including 133 who work in the police department, 108 who work in the water department and 77 in the fire department, Couch said.

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Kraig Robinson, president of Dayton Fire Fighters, Local 136, left, and Deric McDonald, vice president of Fraternal Order of Police Local 44, spoke to the media Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021, to address what they called a looming crisis Involving the city’s vaccine/testing rules for workers. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

Kraig Robinson, president of Dayton Fire Fighters, Local 136, left, and Deric McDonald, vice president of Fraternal Order of Police Local 44, spoke to the media Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021, to address what they called a looming crisis Involving the city’s vaccine/testing rules for workers. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

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Kraig Robinson, president of Dayton Fire Fighters, Local 136, left, and Deric McDonald, vice president of Fraternal Order of Police Local 44, spoke to the media Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021, to address what they called a looming crisis Involving the city’s vaccine/testing rules for workers. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

Couch said employees are tested at work, at no cost, and department heads are in charge of deciding their own testing protocol.

“Logistically, this is very difficult to do, with the sheer numbers we’re dealing with and resources required,” he said. “Plus, we have to maintain services — it’s not like we take everyone out of service at the same time to test them.”

Late last month, the Dayton police and fire unions urged the city to push back the testing start date and come to the negotiating table.

The city’s police, fire, building trades and blue collar and clerical workers unions contend the city’s vaccination/testing policies are significant changes to work conditions that the unions must approve.

Couch and police and fire union representatives met for about seven hours on Monday, and both sides said it was a productive discussion.

Couch said the unions want some changes to the policy that the city may consider. Couch said the city maintains that the policy is a workplace safety matter that does not need to be bargained.

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The front desk at Dayton City Hall in the spring. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

The front desk at Dayton City Hall in the spring. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

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The front desk at Dayton City Hall in the spring. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

The city’s policy required testing to start the week of Nov. 1, Couch said, and since employees have different hours and schedules, they have until the end of the week to get tested.

Employees who refuse testing are sent home on unpaid leave and cannot return to work until they provide a negative COVID-19 test that they have to pay for, Couch said.

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