The Lead

Prison guards’ lawsuit against Wolf admin’s vax policy thrown out

By: - October 15, 2021 12:02 pm

A state appeals court has thrown out a lawsuit challenging Gov. Tom Wolf’s vaccine-or-test requirement for prison guards, among thousands of other state employees in congregate settings.

In a Sept. 28 decision, a three-judge panel of the Commonwealth Court dismissed the challenge, brought by the Pennsylvania State Correctional Officers Association, which represents 11,000 prison workers, on technical grounds. The union had requested an injunction to block the policy,

“We’re disappointed and disagree with the court’s decision,” PSCOA President John Eckenrode said in a statement. 

Eckenrode had mused in a once-public August post on the union’s website that they could not win such a challenge. However, the union filed it anyway in September.

A spokesperson for PSCOA did not say if the union planned to appeal, but the suit’s docket lists the case as closed.

Prison guards sue, other unions bargain over Wolf’s vaccine policy for state workers

Wolf announced the policy in August amid climbing COVID-19 cases. It applies to 25,000 state employees who work in state prisons, hospitals, centers for people with disabilities, and other similar facilities.

According to Department of Corrections data, the vaccination rate has increased among prison staff since Wolf announced the policy. When Wolf announced the policy, only about one in five had been fully vaccinated. Now, vaccination rates have more than doubled to a little more than two in five.

The prison guard union has contended that Corrections data at the time and to this day does not capture guards who were vaccinated on their own time outside of their workplace.

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Stephen Caruso
Stephen Caruso

Stephen Caruso is a former senior reporter with Pennsylvania Capital-Star. Before working with the Capital-Star he covered Pennsylvania state government for The PLS Reporter.