WFSE Tentative Vaccine Agreement Is a Victory for Public Health & Due Process

We are excited to announce that we have reached a tentative agreement with the state regarding the effects of the governor’s vaccine mandate. This agreement is a result of our demand to bargain (DTB) and represents a victory for both public health and due process.

Our DTB bargaining team unanimously endorses this tentative agreement.

In considering this decision to accept or reject the tentative agreement, it is important to know that the mandate itself is not negotiable. However, the reach of this mandate has significant impacts for each employee to consider.

  • Acceptance means you support the provisions achieved in the tentative agreement, including an additional leave day, a retirement option, vaccine access and education on work time, and a fair, equitable and consistent process for members requesting an exemption to the vaccine.
  • Rejection means you oppose the protections and incentives achieved in the tentative agreement. The State will have the power to declare impasse and the Governor's Mandate could proceed without negotiated protections and incentives in place. All members that are not fully vaccinated and do not have an approved exemption by October 18th may potentially be terminated, regardless of extenuating circumstances.

The agreement would not have been achieved without member support and activism. A special thank you goes out to our chief negotiators, Executive Director Leanne Kunze and Director of Advocacy Jenny Ho—along with all the members of our bargaining team who worked late into the evenings to negotiate an agreement:

Rhonda Buchanan, DSHS Economic & Social ServicesMike Yestramski, Western State Hospital, WFSE President
Kimberly Cogswell, Eastern State HospitalTracy Stanley, Lower Columbia College, WFSE Secretary
Ashley Fueston, Employment Security DepartmentPaula Lukaszek, University of Washington, WFSE Treasurer
Justin Tverberg, Dept. of Transportation

Stay Tuned

  • Members will receive an invitation to an informational webinar to be held Tuesday, September 7 at 6:00 p.m.
  • Ratification will also open Tuesday evening and close on Thursday at 11:59 p.m. Voting instructions have been sent to personal emails on file.
  • Anyone on the membership list at the time this agreement was reached tonight (9/3/2021) will be eligible to participate in the ratification vote. Eligible voters are limited to those impacted by the governor’s proclamation and covered by the General Government collective bargaining agreement. (This excludes professional staff and AAGs at the Attorney General’s Office, the Secretary of State’s Office and DNR because they are not covered by the proclamation and will bargain separately.)

Voting Instructions

Eligibility: Only employees on the WFSE member list as of 9/3/21 are eligible to vote.

Vote Closes: 11:59 p.m., Thursday, September 9, 2021

Visit to cast your ballot.

Log in with your first name, last name and your PIN. Click "ONLINE VOTING" below "Important Links." See screenshot below.

➡ Your PIN was sent to your personal email or cell phone on file. If you have not received the email, please update your contact info here. If you've already updated your contact info within the past 24 hours, please disregard and look for instructions in your email tomorrow.


This agreement accomplishes the following:

Vaccine incentive: after October 19, 2021 and no later than December 31, 2021, employees' leave accounts will be credited one (1) personal leave day. This personal leave day must be taken within the 2022 calendar year.  

Anyone who wishes to retire by December 31, 2021 can do so regardless of vaccination status. If an employee is not fully vaccinated by October 18, 2021 and has officially submitted retirement paperwork to DRS with the intent to retire by the end of the 2021 calendar year, the employee may use accrued leave or leave without pay until their retirement date.

A fair and consistent process

  • No unnecessary delays in the exemption process—employees will be provided with instructions and necessary exemption documents in a timely manner. Those with approved exemptions will proceed automatically to accommodation process.
  • If the employer requires a second medical opinion in the exemption process, the employer will cover all associated costs. The medical appointment, including travel time, will be considered work time.
  • If an employee has initiated their exemption request by September 13, 2021 and cooperates with the process, and the exemption is still being reviewed on October 18, 2021, the employee will suffer no loss in pay until the exemption decision is provided.
  • If an employee’s exemption request has been approved but an accommodation has not been identified, the employee may use a combination of annual leave and leave without pay after October 18th until an accommodation decision has been provided.
  • If the exemption request is denied or an accommodation is not available, the employee may use a combination of annual leave and leave without pay for up to 45 days to become fully vaccinated.
  • If an employee receives the first dose of the vaccination late and fails to become fully vaccinated by October 18, 2021, the employee may use leave without pay for up to thirty (30) calendar days to become fully vaccinated and retains the right to return to their previous position or a vacant position in the same job class at their work location provided the employee has become fully vaccinated and the employer has not permanently filled their previous position. This provision expires on November 17, 2021.

Highest levels of confidentiality:

  • Only HR staff or staff who are bound to protect confidential and sensitive information will handle and process exemption accommodation documentation.
  • All information disclosed to the employer in the verification, exemption and accommodation process will be kept confidential. This information will only be accessed by the employer on a need-to-know basis.

COVID testing protections

  • If the employer requires an employee to get a Covid-19 test, it shall be done on the employer’s time and expense.
  • When an employee tests positive using a rapid test at screening and is sent home to isolate and the confirmation test comes back negative, any use of accrued leave during the isolation period will be credited back to the employee’s leave bank.

Vaccine access and education

  • The employer must assist employees in identifying vaccination sites with available appointments upon request.
  • Time spent traveling to the vaccination site and time spent receiving the vaccine are considered hours worked.
  • The employer will share vaccination rate data in a timely manner and partner with the union in targeting worksites for vaccine education and access.

✅ Improvements to COVID-related leave:

  • If the employee’s accrued sick leave is at risk of falling under forty (40) hours, they may request shared leave from the shared leave bank if they are required to isolate or quarantine and the employer if unable to accommodate an alternative work assignment.


  • Contingency plans will be shared with the union and the union will bargain over staffing impacts as soon as possible.
  • Any emergency contracting out due to short staffing as result of this mandate will supplement and not supplant bargaining unit positions.

Successfully fought back:

❌ Requirement for teleworking employees to return to the office with only a 3-day notice.

Loss of pay if the employer was still reviewing exemption request by October 18, 2021 even if request was turned on by September 13, 2021.

❌ Possibility of not being able to retire before termination.

❌ Termination of anyone who was unvaccinated by October 18 even if your exemption request was still in process.

❌ Termination of anyone who was unvaccinated even if you had already received your first dose as of October 18.

In solidarity,

WFSE/AFSCME Council 28 DTB Team

Rhonda Buchanan, DSHS Economic & Social Services
Kimberly Cogswell, Eastern State Hospital
Ashley Fueston, Employment Security Department
Justin Tverberg, Dept. of Transportation

Mike Yestramski, Western State Hospital, WFSE President
Tracy Stanley, Lower Columbia College, WFSE Secretary
Paula Lukaszek, University of Washington, WFSE Treasurer

September 7, 2021 Webinar Review of Tentative Agreement