Metro will require its employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or be tested weekly, starting next month.
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s general manager and CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld said in a memo Tuesday that 45% of the transit system’s workforce has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
That falls well short of WMATA’s goal of having 70% of its employees vaccinated.
Starting Sept. 7, all of Metro’s employees are required to have either proof of vaccination, a negative COVID-19 test result that’s less than a week old or a request for medical or religious accommodation uploaded to their employee portal.
Failure to do so will result in “immediate ineligibility to work and progressive discipline,” the memo said.
“This new mandatory testing requirement is similar to those required by the District, Maryland, and Virginia for government employees, and will help strengthen our collective defensives against the virus and its variants,” Wiedefeld wrote. “This is a deadly disease and we have to work together to fight it for everyone’s sake.”
Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, the largest transit union in the U.S. or Canada, said it supports Metro’s decision.
“Vaccines are the most effective way to save lives during this pandemic,” Raymond Jackson, president and business agent for ATU Local 689, said in a statement. “I myself caught COVID and can tell you that I still live with the health consequences to this day. WMATA’s proposal will still allow members to opt out of the shot in favor of weekly testing.”
Jackson went on to say, “It is still our position that testing should be paid for and provided for by the employer.” He added that how exactly this policy will come to be is currently being negotiated, though he said he does look forward to working with Metro on enforcing its mask mandate policy.
In the memo, Wiedefeld said Metro will accept any type of test, but “the expense and scheduling of this test is your responsibility.”
- Sign up for WTOP alerts
- Latest coronavirus test results in DC, Maryland and Virginia
- Coronavirus vaccine FAQ: What you need to know
- Latest vaccination numbers in DC, Maryland and Virginia