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Letter: Backpay for unvaccinated Richmond city workers unfair

A Richmond News reader questions the fairness of backpay for city workers who are unvaccinated.
Jonathan Ho, the event organizer, said there is some vaccine hesitancy in Richmond's Chinese-speaking community.

Dear Editor,

Re: “Backpay for unvaxxed city workers,” News, April 7  

How is this fair? 

As I read Maria Rantanen’s article, an arbitrator upheld the city’s vaccine mandate, 36 workers refused the vaccine and were put on unpaid leave, and now the city is going to give these 36 people backpay to Feb. 21 and reinstate the vacation time for those of the 36 who used that time instead of unpaid leave. 

In other words, those employees who complied with the legal mandate even though they may not have wanted to, continued their work as normal and got nothing, while 36 people who decided not to follow the legal mandate got a paid vacation? 

In what world is this fair? 

Are the workers who complied going to be treated equally and get the same extra pay or vacation time as the rogue employees? If not, why not? 

Who made the decision for the city that rewarding disobedient employees was wise? Who made the decision for the union that instead of representing all the brothers and sisters, only a select few would be rewarded with a lengthy paid vacation?

If I paid union dues I’d be pretty upset that a few squeaky wheels got huge windfall gains. 

Is there any reason why every worker won’t thumb their nose next time and just wait for backpay? 

If one assumes an average salary of $5,000/month x 36 people x at least two months, we are close to $400,000 in gifts to rogue employees. Although the money is important, so are the principles involved What does it do to morale if those who do their jobs watch their hold-out counterparts get vacations?

What sort of precedent is set when, in the midst of a once-in-a-lifetime health crisis, workers thumb their noses and collect their paycheques?  

This issue has nothing to do with pro or anti vaxxers, but rather treating everyone fairly and equally.

Yvonne Williams


**Editor’s note: The backpay decision was made in mediation between the city and the union.