More than 90% of Milwaukee city employees have complied with vaccine mandate, 230+ face suspension or firing

NOW: More than 90% of Milwaukee city employees have complied with vaccine mandate, 230+ face suspension or firing

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Friday, Oct. 29, was the deadline for city of Milwaukee employees to get vaccinated.

So far, more than 90% are in compliance, but several hundred employees could still be suspended, or even fired. The city is touting the relatively high vaccination rate, and more people are complying each day. But city leaders say departments are already having conversations about how to preserve city services if a number of people are let go.

Makda Fessahaye, the chief human resources officer for the city of Milwaukee, said, "But I am sure that there are going to be a number of people that do not believe that this policy is something that we should have imposed and are going to dig their heels in."

As of Friday morning, 231 city employees were not in compliance with the vaccination policy. They're now subject to a 30-day disciplinary suspension, and they'll be fired for further non-compliance.

Next week,  departments will start the pre-disciplinary hearings. Fessahaye said, "That is their opportunity to provide any mitigating evidence. As they indicated earlier. If someone is in the process of getting vaccinated, they've received their first dose, those individuals will not be penalized."

But there is plenty of good news: 91.2% of general city employees complied, and Fessahaye says the numbers are improving each day.

And county employees have also been vaccinated at a higher rate. So far, 78% have submitted either proof of vaccination or an exemption request.

Any city employee in the process of getting vaccinated will not be penalized, and employees that comply while on suspension will return to work. The increased vaccination rate for city employees comes as city case rates declined again this week. Fessahaye said, "We're very proud of the staff for understanding the gravity of this pandemic and their roles of leaders in the Milwaukee community."

But the city is not sure how services could be impacted by the 231 employees not in compliance, because they're not sure which departments are affected most. Fessahaye said, "Departments are making arrangements to ensure that operations continue to go on if there is a number of people that no longer are working there."

Fessahaye says the city is still working to negotiate a vaccination agreement with the city's police and fire unions, but there's currently no timetable for when that could be completed.

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