Florida is a “Right To Work” state, which, perversely, means that while you may have a right to work, you don’t have a right to a job. For all practice purposes your employe is free to fire you for pretty much any reason.
To its credit, the City of Gainesville doesn’t play those kind of games with its employees. City officials engage in collective bargaining with multiple public employee unions and, for the most part, Gainesville employees enjoy considerably more job security that most of the residents who pay their salaries.
Now the City Commission – recognizing that Gainesville, indeed all of Florida, is in the midst of a public health crisis – has decided to require all its employees be vaccinated against Covid. Of late, disgruntled public workers have been massing on the steps of city hall in protest – cheering commissioners who opposed the mandate and jeering those who voted for it.
Union leaders warn that many employees will “walk out the door” rather than submit to vaccinations. And the commission is being compared to a totalitarian regime that wants to expose its captive workforce to an “experimental” drug.
But wait a minute: Now the FDA has given full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. The Pentagon will require military personnel be vaccinated. President Biden is urging employees to “step up vaccine requirements that will reach millions more people.”
And Dr. Anthony Fauci says “If we can get through this winter and get really the majority – overwhelming majority – of the 90 million people who have not been vaccinated, vaccinated, I hope we can start to get some good control in the spring of 2022.”
And suddenly, the city vaccination mandate seems neither radical, dictatorial or even unreasonable. Rather, it is a modest price for employees to pay for the privilege of working for the taxpayers of Gainesville.
The vaccine requirement was passed on a narrow vote. The commission majority now needs to hang tight and insist that all of our employees be vaccinated for the sake of all of the people of Gainesville.
Working for the City of Gainesville is indeed a privilege. And if some employees choose to “walk out the door” rather than submit to “forced vaccinations” that is certainly their right in this Right To Work state.