Boston had right to impose vaccine mandate for city workers, state labor department finds

"This decision affirms the central role of city governments in protecting public health and safety."

Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff
Boston Fire Fighter and IAFF General President Edward A.Kelly at a Boston Fire Fighters press-conference at Florian Hall on Feb 16. Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

Boston had the right to implement its vaccine mandate for city workers, the Massachusetts Department of Labor Relations concluded this week in response to a complaint brought by the city firefighters union.

The decision marks a partial victory for the city, but does not carry immediate practical impact: Mayor Michelle Wu’s vaccine mandate for city workers remains on hold pending separate legal proceedings.

“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with new variants and rising cases, coupled with the City’s interest in protecting the wellbeing of its employees and the public with whom they interact, and ensuring that there is sufficient staff to provide vital public safety services, exempts the City from having to negotiate with the Union over the decision to require vaccinations,” Gail Sorokoff, an investigator with the labor department, wrote Tuesday. “The City has established that exigent circumstances permitted it to implement the revised policy in January, 2022, even though the parties had not completed impact negotiations.”


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