Raleigh blocks promotions for unvaccinated city workers, first responders push back

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Unvaccinated workers at the City of Raleigh will not be considered for job promotions until they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Some Raleigh first responders say that's too far and are sounding the alarm.

Raleigh's vaccine mandate for city workers was announced in August. It requires city employees to be fully vaccinated by Sept. 17 or submit to weekly testing.

But the details tying vaccinations to promotions are so new that it's not written into official city policy yet. Still, word is trickling down from supervisors at Raleigh police and fire that starting January 1 -- if officers or fire fighters want to be considered for a job promotion, they have to be fully vaccinated for COVID.

"It is not being received well at all," said Raleigh Fire Local 548 President Andrew Davis.

City Hall told ABC11 the policy applies to all city workers, not just public safety personnel. Moreover, police and fire are being given extra time to comply.

But Davis said his association's survey of 250 Raleigh firefighters showed 83% disagree with the policy.

"That's pretty resounding support against this in a department where roughly 50% of employees are vaccinated in our department," he said. "We've got equal support both from vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals that this should not be a mandate for promotion."



There's pushback on vaccine mandates from many first responders from southern California to South Carolina - despite an argument that it's too risky for public-facing first responders to be on the job unvaccinated.

"I say that we wear our personal protective equipment every call that we ever go on," Davis said. "We take every precaution necessary to ensure public safety. We know how to keep the public safe."

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The City of Raleigh told ABC11 that this is all part of the city's effort to incentivize vaccinations. These local first responders argue barring promotions isn't an incentive, it's a punishment.

"If an individual would like to get vaccinated, we fully support that. And we support vaccines," Davis said. "However, we don't believe that any member's career should be stunted by a personal medical choice."

Davis contends that highly-experienced firefighters are going to be excluded from promotions which will have a direct impact on the level of service to citizens. He says his members filed 50 grievances with the city over the issue and received word from Human Resources Tuesday that every grievance was denied.

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