$3K vaccine bonuses for RI state workers approved Thursday

The final vote was 1963 accept to 97 reject.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – Members of RI Council 94 voted to approve a new contract for state workers, which includes a $3,000 bonus for state workers who are fully vaccinated.

The contract was overwhelmingly approved on Thursday, with a final tally of 1963 for and 97 against. Council 94 is the largest state employee union representing over 3,800 state employees.

“This was done so that we could retain your public servants,” Lynn Loveday, the State VP for Council 94, said immediately following negotiations- acknowledging not everyone is agrees with the bonuses.

Rhode Island Deputy House Speaker Charlene Lima says the vaccine bonuses are unfair to those who got vaccinated without an incentive.

“It’s not fair to all the other state workers and municipal workers who stayed working through the whole COVID and provided the services and worked very hard,” Lima says.

Governor Dan McKee told reporters on Thursday, these negotiations were long overdue and is something the taxpayers of Rhode Island can afford- even if this does not increase vaccination rates.

ABC6 asked a spokesperson for the council and a spokesperson for Governor Dan McKee’s office when vaccinated state workers could see the first part of the bonus but that answer was not made clear.

The four-year contract had been agreed to by the McKee administration as well as the union prior to the vote.

Other contract clauses:

  • 10% salary increase over four years.
  • 20 family paid sick leave days for immediate family. It was previously 10.
  • Healthcare insurance company, coverage and co-insurance is to remain the same.
  • Step mother/father. step-brother/ sister were added to the Bereavement Leave section- for a total of four days. Nieces, nephews and cousins were also added to this section- for a total of one day.
  • Annual employee outing of two hours added to the contract.
  • No benefits were lost from 2017-2020 Master Agreement.
  • The COVID bonus will be split in two; with $1,500 being paid to the workers after the vote, and the other $1,500 being paid next July.

Members of the Rhode Island Minority officer offered a statement on the ratification of the contract saying,

“People should be paid for their work, not their private medical choices. The hundreds of thousands of vaccinated Rhode Islanders should not be forced to pay bonuses to state employees who have also chosen to be vaccinated. The union’s role is to negotiate the best deal for their members – and they clearly have. On the other hand, it is up to the Governor to advance the best interest of all taxpayers – and he has failed.

The Council 94 bonuses are estimated to amount to over $11 Million. Undoubtedly, other state employees will soon seek parity, which will soon cost taxpayers tens of millions dollars more. At a COVID press update yesterday, it was stated that RI is 94% vaccinated, one of the highest national vaccination rates. Clearly, this bonus provision is not geared to incentivize our unvaccinated population. Rather, it is an electoral gimmick cast on the backs of taxpayers. Rhode Island can and must do better.”

This is a developing story, check back for details.

Categories: News, Regional News, Rhode Island