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Boston police union rejects city’s offer that would incentivize officers to get vaccinated

Boston Police Patrolman's Association president, Larry Calderone, spoke during a press conference last year about a state police reform bill. reporter:Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff

Members of the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association strongly rejected a proposed agreement with the city Wednesday that would have established a new benefit providing mental health and wellness days for all vaccinated officers.

The agreement aimed to provide more incentives for patrol officers to get vaccinated, but it was turned down with more than 800 members voting against it out of about 900 who cast votes, union officials said.

“The membership of the BPPA have spoken overwhelmingly to reject the offer that the city has made to us. It is not enough,” union President Larry Calderone told reporters at the union hall in Dorchester after voting closed.

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The deal also would have created a path for unvaccinated officers to be rehired if they later decide to get vaccinated, officials said.

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the vote Wednesday night.

The BPPA, the city’s largest police union, is not part of the lawsuit filed last week by three unions representing Boston firefighters, superior police officers and police detectives.

Calderone said the BPPA considered taking legal action to push back on the vaccine mandate but decided not to file suit against the city.

“We chose to go to the bargaining table,” he said. “We were hoping to get concessions in benefits, some type of testing, some form of testing. We were hoping to secure some wellness benefits for the members that I think are well deserved, but that didn’t happen [because] we didn’t get as much as the membership wanted.”

Calderone said many members of the 1,600-member union would like the city to bring back an option for officers to be tested regularly for COVID-19 in lieu of receiving a vaccine. He said about 93 percent of the union’s members are vaccinated.

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“I can definitely stand up here and tell you the overwhelming factor was the fact that we have an agreement in writing with former Mayor (Kim) Janey and that agreement encompassed testing,” he said. “When you have a written contract, regardless of who signed it, every labor organization wants that to be respected and held in place.”

“Testing was working out well, and a lot of members wanted it,” he added.

The city’s deadline for workers to get vaccinated is Monday, Jan. 31. Workers who choose not to be vaccinated and have not received an exemption will be placed on unpaid leave. Wu said this week that more than 94 percent of city workers are already complying with the mandate.

Wu has pushed the deadline back twice, citing progress in the city’s negotiations with unions that oppose the requirement, and has repeatedly said the mandate will be enforced.

“I would beg the mayor to come back with something more advantageous to the members we represent,” Calderone said.


Nick Stoico can be reached at nick.stoico@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @NickStoico.