BOSTON — A Superior Court judge has turned down a request by the union that represents 1,800 Massachusetts state troopers to delay Gov. Charlie Baker’s state employee coronavirus vaccine mandate.
The State Police Association of Massachusetts filed a lawsuit last week saying the Oct. 17 deadline would cause troopers “irreparable harm” and they wanted more time to “negotiate the terms and conditions of their employment.”
A delay in implementation of the mandate would not serve the public interest, Judge Jackie Cowin said in Thursday’s decision.
“Specifically, the public interest is, unquestionably, best served by stopping the spread of the virus, in order to protect people from becoming ill, ensure adequate supply of medical services, and curtail the emergence of new, deadlier variants of the virus,” the decision said.
The union also asked that troopers who choose not to get vaccinated, or who have already had COVID-19, be allowed to instead wear a mask on the job and undergo weekly coronavirus testing.
Union President Michael Cherven said he was disappointed in the ruling and that “dozens of troopers have already submitted their resignation paperwork,” and intend to work for police agencies “offering reasonable alternatives such as mask wearing and regular testing.”
“Throughout COVID, we have been on the front lines protecting the citizens of Massachusetts and beyond,” he said. “Simply put, all we are asking for are the same basic accommodations that countless other departments have provided to their first responders, and to treat a COVID related illness as a line of duty injury.”
A department spokesperson said no resignations had been received Friday.
Baker announced last month that 42,000 state workers and contractors in the executive branch are required to be vaccinated, or be granted a legitimate exemption, by Oct. 17 or face disciplinary action including possible termination.