The Massachusetts State Police Union has announced a significant victory for seven previously suspended State Troopers who had been sidelined due to a COVID-19 vaccine mandate. The State Police Association of Massachusetts disclosed that these troopers have emerged triumphant in a legal battle against the Massachusetts government, resulting in their reinstatement to their respective roles.
According to the union’s news release, an independent arbitrator determined that the Massachusetts State Police had violated the troopers’ rights pertaining to anti-discrimination and affirmative action. The arbitrator’s findings pointed out that the state authorities, including former Governor Charlie Baker and the Department of State Police, had failed to provide adequate accommodations for the troopers’ sincerely held religious beliefs.
This victory comes after an extended and hard-fought legal confrontation with the Massachusetts government. The contention had arisen when Governor Baker, in October 2021, signed an executive order mandating that all employees within the executive branch provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination by October 2021, under threat of disciplinary action and possible termination. This policy had led to the dismissal of eleven Massachusetts State Troopers and one sergeant in April 2022 due to their refusal to comply with the vaccination requirement.
In light of the arbitrator’s recent ruling, the State Police Union has confirmed that the seven troopers will be reinstated to their positions. They will be accorded their full seniority rights and will enjoy the benefits associated with their roles, excluding any interim earnings and unemployment compensation they may have received during their suspension.
Patrick McNamara, the President of the State Police Association, did not hold back in his criticism of the former Governor’s executive order. He characterized it as an unwarranted attack on organized labor and the rights of the affected troopers. McNamara recounted the journey of this legal battle, tracing its roots back to the Association’s grievance filing in October 2021. He noted that despite the obstacles faced, the Association remained unwavering in its commitment to rectifying what it perceived as injustices perpetuated by the Baker Administration.
In a stern critique, McNamara accused Governor Baker of being unresponsive to the Association’s concerns and of failing to collaborate constructively. He went on to assert that the administration’s actions had trampled upon the troopers’ religious convictions and their right to dissent.
“Earlier today, I had the distinct honor and privilege of informing seven of our Troopers, who have been suspended without pay due to Executive Order 595, that they would be returning to work. This fight began in October 2021 when the Association filed a grievance on their behalf,” McNamara said. “Since then, the Association has been committed to making these members whole. Through this lengthy and grueling grievance and arbitration process, the Association has remained steadfast in our fight to right the injustices of the Baker Administration.”
“Earlier today, I had the distinct honor and privilege of informing seven of our Troopers, who have been suspended without pay due to Executive Order 595, that they would be returning to work. This fight began in October of 2021 when the Association filed a grievance on their… pic.twitter.com/O4okXZTN0L
— State Police Association of Massachusetts (@MSPTroopers) August 4, 2023