The Mass. offers jobs to some workers laid off for COVID vaccine mandate

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This strangely hot, humid and extremely foggy weather (where is the Zakim?) remains all morning. So drive carefully! Here is a clear overview of today’s news:

Govt. charlie baker The administration is offering some former workers who were laid off due to their refusal to comply with the state’s COVID vaccine mandate to return to their old jobs. A spokesperson for Baker’s office said they were able to “accommodate a small number of positions that were previously not covered by the vaccine requirement.”

  • What does this mean exactly? Baker’s office doesn’t say. But the governor told reporters on Tuesday that this decision was linked to “ongoing reviews” of individual exemption requests.
  • As WBUR reported in February, the state had approved only 256 of more than 2,300 applications it had received for medical or religious waivers. It is not known how many of these requests are reassessed. Baker’s office says they don’t expect to make any offers beyond those already made.
  • A letter last week to former MassDOT workers obtained by CBS Boston and other outlets says the state also takes into account “high levels of immunity” in the general population. The letter says the reinstatement offers are “unconditional”, although unvaccinated workers will be required to mask up in the workplace.
  • Overview: The vast majority of state employees complied with the mandate. According to Baker’s office, just over 1,000 of the more than 41,000 executive branch employees quit or were fired because of the demand.

that is going to take time before the orange line rushes forward. MBTA Chief Executive Steve Poftak told Sen. Ed Markey in a letter on Tuesday that some persistent slow areas of the Orange Line will not be lifted until December, more than two months after the end of the full 30-day shutdown of line. And as State House News Service reports, two of Jamaica Plain’s slow areas will remain in place for another 60 days.

  • Ahead of the month-long shutdown, Poftak and others repeatedly said the unprecedented shutdown would result in faster Orange Line service. Well, that hasn’t happened – at least not yet. The data shows that the service, while improving, is still slower than before. (Boston Globe reporter Taylor Dolven has nice painting here showing where speed restrictions remain in place.)
  • Poftak’s letter comes after Markey grilled him during a Senate hearing earlier this month for not making it clear that it would take a long time for travel to ramp up. Poftak admitted he “failed” to explain that crews found additional runway work they wanted to do before winter.

Teachers at South Hadley aren’t going on strike yet, but they’re threatening to “play by the rule” next Thursday if they don’t get a new contract next week. This means that they will work strictly during school hours – they will not arrive early or stay late.

  • Teachers in the western Massachusetts town are among the lowest paid in the region, and the district is struggling with staffing shortages, according to the South Hadley Educators Association. They have now been working without a new contract for two years.
  • Mark McLaughlin, acting superintendent of South Hadley, said in a statement that the district is seeking a contract that is “fair” for teachers but also “fiscally responsible to our city” and “that does not result in staff reductions or increases. of class size.”

PS— Our busy week of WBUR CitySpace events continues tonight! Jennette McCurdy will talk to Here & Now co-host Robin Young about her best-selling New York Times memoir and her struggles as a former child actress. Although general admission is sold out for the event, you can still purchase tickets to watch the discussion virtually.

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