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RI state workers could get $3,000 vaccine bonuses under tentative union agreement

Target 12

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The McKee administration and Rhode Island’s biggest union of state workers have reached a tentative agreement on a new contract that includes a provision to give two $1,500 bonuses to workers who’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19.

J. Michael Downey, president of AFSCME Council 94, said Thursday a vote on the tentative four-year agreement will take place Dec. 2. He said 60 members of the union will be fanning out to seek feedback.

Downey said the agreement calls for an initial $1,500 vaccination bonus to be paid to workers following next month’s vote, followed by an additional $1,500 bonus to be paid next July.

Derek Gomes, a spokesperson for the Department of Administration, told Target 12: “The state and the unions are working diligently on a contract. Out of respect for the process, the state will not disclose any details until a contract is ratified.”

The governor’s office declined to comment.

The R.I. GOP slammed McKee over the idea.

“It’s estimated that AFSCME Council 94 has 10,000 active and retired members it represents,” Rhode Island Republican Party Chairwoman Sue Cienki said in a statement. “For argument’s sake, if only half of that number are active and receive the bonus, this would cost Rhode Island over $15 million.”

Spokespersons for both House Speaker Joe Shekarchi and Senate President Dominick Ruggerio said the two legislative leaders had not heard of the tentative agreement.

Earlier this year Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker signed an executive order mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for the more than 40,000 state workers and contractors by Oct. 17, unless they are granted a medical or religious exemption.

Tolly Taylor (ttaylor@wpri.com) is a Target 12 investigative reporter for WPRI 12. Connect with him on Twitter and on Facebook

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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