The Woods Hole, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority is requiring all employees to demonstrate they have received at least one COVID-19 vaccination by January 5, the first day of the authority’s winter service schedule. Employees who are not fully vaccinated in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance by February 16 will be subject to progressive discipline, including and up to termination.

Employees must also continue to maintain COVID-19 vaccinations in compliance with the CDC definition of “fully vaccinated” and as adopted by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

The authority is providing an incentive of up to $500 per employee to further encourage vaccination adoption.

Union and nonunion workers subject to the policy include full-time, part-time, seasonal, intermittent, temporary and contract employees, as well as interns. The policy is consistent with state and federal orders and recommendations issued in 2021 by Massachusetts Governor Charles D. Baker and President Joseph R. Biden Jr. for state agencies, authorities and organizations with 100 or more employees.

Exemptions to the policy may be granted upon an employee providing verifiable documentation that COVID-19 vaccination would be detrimental to his or her health or contradict strongly held religious beliefs. Weekly COVID-19 testing will be required in such instances.

“Protecting the health and safety of our employees and customers is a critical priority as we continue to be affected by the pandemic and emerging variants of COVID-19,” Steamship Authority general manager Robert B. Davis said. “It is imperative that all employees be vaccinated to help halt the spread of COVID-19, and implementation of the verification policy is a major step toward achieving that goal.”

Although it is within the authority’s management rights to implement this policy, the Authority continues to be in active negotiations with seven of its eight bargaining units regarding the matter. It has secured a memorandum of understanding with the Service Employees International Union, which represents the Authority’s reservation clerks, and continues to work toward agreements with employees represented by the Teamsters and the Marine Engineers Beneficiary Association.

The Steamship Authority continues to require strict COVID-19 precautionary measures be taken onboard its vessels and within its shoreside facilities, including a US Coast Guard-mandated mask requirement for all employees and passengers. Steamship Authority personnel use hospital-grade disinfectants on board all vessels to perform a cleaning of both public and employee areas. The cleaning is part of a daily regimen by the Authority’s terminal employees and vessel crews to thoroughly clean and disinfect all high-touch areas, including hand railings, tabletops, door handles, seats, faucets and toilets.

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