November 4, 2022


Mary Mahoney, President

OPEIU Local 6

150 Wood Road, Suite 400

Braintree, MA 02184


Dear President Mahoney,

I am writing to follow up with you regarding my correspondence dated November 2, 2022, and to update you regarding our plan to implement the mandatory vaccination reporting policy at the Trial Court.

As you are aware, the Trial Court first notified Local 6 of our Vaccination Upload plan on August 8, 2022. We then met with you on August 25, 2022, at which time we shared that the policy would begin on October 1, 2022, and be voluntary for 30 days, after which time it may become mandatory if there was not a sufficient response. We met again on October 3, 2022, to demonstrate the vaccine upload tool and again answer questions regarding our implementation of the plan. On October 24, 2022 we informed you that unfortunately we would need to move to a mandatory Vaccine Upload plan.

It is our position that the decision to require our employees to inform us of their vaccination status is a decision that does not require bargaining with our unions. Much like the decision to require employees to vaccinate or test during the Delta variant surge last Fall, the need to identify whom in our courts is vaccinated, boosted or unvaccinated is directly related to our core governmental function. It cannot be disputed that COVID-19 has proven to have had a significant impact on our ability to provide access to justice, maintain sufficient levels of in-person service and timely process matters, all while keeping our employees safe. The Trial Court throughout this pandemic has adopted extreme measures to keep employees healthy and safe. In addition to masking and social distancing measures, we’ve sent employees home while continuing to pay them; we drastically reduced the staffing levels of courts, utilizing rotating skeleton crews; we approved remote work arrangements wherever possible and, in some instances, even when not possible; and we’ve shut down courts and/or offices for days at a time following COVID outbreaks. We’ve done all of that with your support for which we are very grateful. We did it, because it was simply the right thing to do. Now that it is clear that COVID-19 may be here to stay, however, these are not sustainable things to do if we are to meet our obligations to the public. As we’ve discussed, the Vaccine Upload plan is designed to allow us to take a more nuanced approach if and when the next viral surge occurs, such that the Trial Court can take more measured responses. Vaccination levels will help us decide whether social distancing and masking are sufficient measures, in light of rising caseloads or an office outbreak, or whether more assertive precautions which could implicate court business must be taken. The need for that information is now, not in the midst of a crisis. We believe that the public policy inherent in our decision “is so comparatively heavy that collective bargaining, as a matter of law, is to be denied effect.” Town of Burlington v. Labor Relations Commission, 390 Nass. 157, 164 (1983).

We do recognize our obligation to bargain the impacts of our decision to mandate that employees upload their vaccination status, as we have done both on August 25, 2022 and October 3, 2022. Based on Local 6’s unwillingness to agree that this policy should be mandatory, it is clear that we are also at impasse on the question of how a mandatory program should be implemented. Nonetheless, we remain available to continue those conversations and will remain open to Local 6’s positions in that regard. The current reality, however, is that a Vaccination Upload policy can only be mandatory if there are consequences for not complying. Our current plan is that employees who do not upload their vaccination status by end of Friday, November 4, 2022, will receive a communication notifying them that they have until the close of business on Tuesday, November 8, 2022 to comply. On November 9, 2022, any non-compliant employees will be issued a notice of non compliance for failure to comply. That communication will put employees on notice that failure to comply by close of business on November 14, 2022, will result in the employee being removed from payroll as unfit for duty on November 15, 2022, until they are compliant with the policy.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 demands that we move now if we are to make proper use of this information. Again, however, we remain open to Local 6’s proposal regarding implementation of the policy.


James P. McDonagh

Assistant Chief Human Resources Officer

Director of Labor Relations

cc: Chief Justice Locke

Trial Court Administrator Bello

Chief Human Resources Officer Paul Dietl