A judge on Thursday rejected a request by the state troopers union to block a state order that state employees be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 by Oct. 17 or risk discipline or firing.
In her ruling, Suffolk Superior Court Judge Jackie Cowin gave legal reasons for rejecting the State Troopers Association request for a preliminary injunction, related to the way contracts are negotiated and appealed to state regulators. But Cowin also ruled that while the right of unions to negotiate over working conditions are in the public interest - in this case to demand more than just the time off the state offered to get shots or quarantine - what's even more in the public interest is the state's effort to knock out a deadly virus.
[T]he Commonwealth has established that the best way to promote this interest is by vaccinating as many people as possible, as quickly as possible. As such, suspending the deadline for Union members to obtain full vaccination would be against the public interest which the defendants are charged with protecting, and cause more harm to the Commonwealth than is caused to the Union by the denial of [an injunction].
Cowin also rejected an argument by the union - which claimed 80% of troopers have already gotten shots - that if vaccination is so danged important the state should have issued its worker vaccination requirement long before it did and that now some troopers risk not being able to get shots in time to meet the Oct. 17 deadline.
Cowin said that that argument ignores the fact that the nature of the Covid-19 pandemic has changed in the months since vaccines were first released, not just because of the rise of the far more infectious Delta variant and not just because of the imminent arrival of winter, which has traditionally seen a peak in respiratory diseases, but possibly because, even in Massachusetts, the state has had to deal with resistance to shots.