State Watch

Massachusetts judge rejects state police union's attempt to delay coronavirus vaccine mandate

A bid by the Massachusetts' state police union to delay a vaccine mandate failed on Thursday after a Superior Court judge rejected the effort.

"The public interest is, unquestionably, best served by stopping the spread of the virus, in order to protect people from becoming ill, ensure adequate supply of medical services, and curtail the emergence of new, deadlier variants of the virus," Judge Jackie Cowin said, according to The Associated Press.

Last month, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) issued an executive order requiring all of the roughly 42,000 state employees, including troopers, to get vaccinated by Oct. 17. If employees were not fully vaccinated by then, they could face punitive action, including possible termination.

Last week, the State Police Association of Massachusetts, which counts 1,800 members, filed a lawsuit seeking to delay the vaccination mandate, explaining that it wants to "negotiate the terms and conditions of their employment," The Boston Globe reported.

The union requested that, if state troopers decided not to get vaccinated, they could allow their members to wear masks and undergo weekly testing instead. 

The president of the union, Michael Cherven, said in a statement on Friday that the union would respect the decision, but that it was "unfortunate that the Governor and his team have chosen to mandate one of the most stringent vaccine mandates in the country with no reasonable alternatives."

"To date, dozens of troopers have already submitted their resignation paperwork. Many of these troopers are going to be returning to their previous municipal police departments within the state that allow for regular testing and masks," Cherven said. "The State Police are already critically short staffed and acknowledge this by the unprecedented moves to take officers from specialty units that investigate homicide's, terrorism, computer crimes, arsons and human trafficking, to name just a few."