Published in MANN REPORT
President and CEO,
Matthew Adam Properties, Inc.
It’s been an unimaginable couple of years as a life-altering pandemic has engulfed the world with uncertainty, confusion and misleading information. During the time, we have struggled with overwhelmed hospitals, staggering deaths, questions about the safety of vaccines, perceived threats to individual liberties and conflicting messages about how to combat this battalion of viruses.
Our work lives are evolving, children losing out on vital interactions and stability and all of us suffering from fatigue and lack of control. We have been subjected to often conflicting mandates from city, state and the federal governments, creating battlegrounds between those who support them and those who fight them. It’s tough to sort this all out and as we get accustomed to one set of mandates they change, or we travel across the river to New Jersey with its own rules or north of New York City with others. How is residential management handling this? That’s what I want to discuss.
As I write in the middle of January, we are amidst a dramatic surge in reported cases, though with less severe symptoms but stricter rules on where we can go and what procedures to follow. Confusion reigns in many areas, probably none more than the requirements for employers and workers and their eligibility to continue working. What regulations should both groups follow? While the mission is to protect both workers and the public and keep businesses and other institutions open, there is still much turmoil.
In this light, what are residential buildings, boards, and management companies are doing to provide a hopefully safer environment for staff and residents?
After a series of discussions and negotiations, the Realty Advisory Board and Local
32BJ of the Service Employees International Union, which represents most staff in residential buildings, adopted a memorandum of agreement that set up procedures for buildings wanting a vaccine mandate. Most properties have instituted mandates, including just about all the buildings we manage. In addition, Matthew Adam Properties has adopted these procedures and our employees are fully vaccinated with required two- or one-shot injections. In addition, especially as the Omicron variant has spread, many of our employees wear masks, which are required in the public areas of the building where we have our office.
After the agreement was reached with Local 32BJ, we distributed a letter to staff in buildings wanting a mandate to collect information about the vaccination status of each employee and requesting proof. Those employees not fully vaccinated had to inform us whether an appointment was scheduled for a first or second shot; whether they are seeking an appointment and may need assistance; and if they are unwilling to be vaccinated the reason they are not getting a vaccinated if due to religious beliefs or health conditions.
The agreement gives unvaccinated employees three options:
- An unpaid leave of absence up to four months and within that timeframe the employee can return two weeks after being fully vaccinated with the second dose of the two-dose vaccine or one dose of the one-time type.
- Being placed on a recall list for six months after the last day of work into the same or similar position at their building to the extent a position is available after the employee has either been fully vaccinated and provided proof or the mandate has been lifted for that building.
- If the employee rejects the first two options, they will be separated from employment with a non-disciplinary termination that is neither deemed a voluntary quit nor a termination for misconduct.
Prior to implementation of a vaccination mandate, or in lieu of it, employers may require unvaccinated employees to have up to two PCR tests weekly on non-work time and submit the results to the employer.
Employees will receive paid time to obtain vaccination or booster shots and for any side effects.
The system has worked extremely well in seeking to protect the health and safety of both employees and residents. The Realty Advisory Board and Local 32BJ are to be commended for setting up a procedure that respects individual’s privacy and beliefs while providing for education and one-on-one discussions when necessary. While there was some resistance to it, overall, it was widely accepted and most staff at buildings have been vaccinate