TAMPA, Fla. — The City of Tampa said in a press release on Tuesday that an "overwhelming majority" of city employees voted in favor of the vaccine mandate.
The city said members of three unions, which represent 80% of city employees, voted to ratify the mandate that Mayor Jane Castor announced last month.
According to the city, members of the Tampa Police Benevolent Association, Tampa Fire Fighters Local 754, and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1464 voted by a 75% majority to formally approve the policy.
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The new policy requires employees to be fully vaccinated by September 30 unless they can show that they have COVID-19 antibodies. Employees who prefer can opt for weekly COVID-19 tests and to wear a surgical grade mask at work.
"I could not be prouder of our City of Tampa team," Mayor Jane Castor said. "Our goal is simple: to protect our employees and our community, while maintaining the high level of service that our residents expect. In an effort to balance health and safety, we provided employees options that include weekly testing instead of vaccinations, and we worked in collaboration with our union leaders to get the facts out to all employees and dispel false rumors."
The city said union leaders supported the policy but it required a vote by rank and file employees.
However, following the City of Tampa's press release earlier Tuesday; Danny Alvarez with the Tampa Police Benevolent Association disputed the release.
"Our members never took a vote on the vaccine mandate," Alvarez said.
Alvarez added that members only took a vote on what he called the negotiated impacts, which included the use of antibodies, masking, tests on duty, and how they would be compensated for tests done on or off duty.
The city of Tampa responded Tuesday afternoon.
City of Tampa director of communications Adam Smith said, "They’re splitting hairs. They voted for the implementation of the vaccine policy. It passed overwhelmingly."
Below is the full release from the Tampa PBA:
(Editor's Note: The original story attributed to the City of Tampa that the Tampa Police Benevolent Association voted to approve the policy. The Tampa PBA has since disputed that report and we have added their comments.)