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MBTA removes vaccine mandate, offers jobs to eight fired employees

Eight employees fired for not complying with the MBTA’s vaccine mandate will be given the opportunity to return to work, following the T’s decision to remove the pandemic-era restriction.

The MBTA rescinded its vaccine mandate, which was implemented in October 2021, on Dec. 2, 2022, according to a memo sent to employees by outgoing General Manager Steve Poftak that was shared with the Herald.

In the memo, Poftak said “we now know that being vaccinated does not prevent an individual from contracting or transmitting COVID-19” and cited updated CDC guidelines regarding identical quarantine and isolation protocols for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals as reasons for removing the policy.

“As a result of the vaccine policy being rescinded, (eight) previously non-compliant employees will be offered an opportunity to return to work, if vacancies exist, through a negotiated settlement agreement with their respective union,” MBTA spokesperson Lisa Battiston said.

The eight employees are all bus drivers and members of the MBTA’s largest union, the Boston Carmen’s Local 589. They are not currently slated to receive back pay.

“At the encouragement of the Local, the MBTA has agreed to provide a return-to-work option for a group of less than 10 members who were terminated by the employer under the MBTA’s prior guidelines which had been upheld by the courts despite legal challenges lodged by the Local dating back to 2021,” the Boston Carmen’s Union said in a statement.

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