VAN BUREN TWP., Mich. (FOX 2) - Municipal employees of Van Buren Township might not have a choice whether to get vaccinated for COVID-19, if they want to keep their jobs.
"We are the trailblazers, simply meaning we are the first jurisdiction in the state of Michigan to do this," said Adam Byrd, Van Buren Township Police Patrol and Dispatchers Union. "There’s a reason the other 1,820 jurisdictions did not do it. It’s not right, government should not be intervening in this."
As far as we can tell that’s true. Van Buren Township is one of the first municipalities in Michigan to require that all municipality employees get vaccinated against COVID-19. The Michigan Township's Association tells us they don’t know of any others.
"There should be a freedom of choice, just like every other municipality in the state of Michigan," Byrd said.
The decision came from a recent township board meeting. The township supervisor says the decision would require all employees to be vaccinated.
The mandate takes effect August 16th - but pretty much all the other policy surrounding that decision is still up in the air, like what happens to employees if they don't get vaccinated which is still an open question.
"We’re working with the unions right now to try and come up with some common ground," said Township Supervisor Kevin McNamara. "I don’t know what the common ground is just yet.
"The board has not directed me to terminate employees at this time, and I will not terminate employees until the board directs me to do that."
FOX 2: "Ultimately what do you want to do?"
"I have to speak for the board, but personally, I’d rather go back to the CDC and the state guidelines."
Besides freedom, Byrd says the issue is also about keeping critical police and fire employees on the job with his union filing a class action grievance against the township.
"It’s hard enough to hire police officers right now which reduces our membership," he said. "There used to be a time where you could just hire police officers, you can’t do that anymore."
The mandatory vaccination date is August 16th, which is the policy as of right now. But the township supervisor is working very closely with all the interested parties on this and it’s very possible the board could reconsider it.