Massachusetts State Police Must Reinstate Troopers Ousted Over COVID-19 Vaccine, Arbitrator Rules

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An independent arbitrator has ordered Massachusetts State Police to reinstate seven troopers who were ousted in 2021 for refusing to take the COVID-19 vaccine, it was announced Friday.

An independent arbitrator found that Massachusetts State Police violated a collective bargaining agreement in its handling of  the cases of eight troopers who cited religious grounds in their refusal to take the COVID-19 vaccine after it was mandated for executive department employees by the Republican Gov. Charlie Baker in 2021, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 19: Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker speaks at a forum during the opening of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), a meeting of international leaders which looks to help solve global problems, on September 19, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Even though the State Police acknowledged the eight troopers in question held firm religious beliefs that qualified them for an exemption to the vaccine, they were still penalized for failing to get the shot, violating their contractual rights, the arbitrator ruled, according to

The eight troopers were suspended without pay in 2021 following the mandate, although one of the troopers returned to work after opting to take the vaccine, the outlet stated.

“[Baker’s vaccine mandate] was more than just an affront to the hard-working members of the Mass State Police, it was an attack on organized labor and the rights of our members,” the union, which represents the large majority of State Police employees, stated, according to the outlet. (RELATED: New York Court System Must Rehire Employees Fired Over Vaccine Mandate, Provide Backpay)

“These members, whose religious convictions were trampled, and who were left without pay or benefits, now can choose to return to work and will be made whole through retroactive pay and earned seniority,” Patrick McNamara, the union president, said of the ruling, according to the AP.

McNamara added that after this ruling the union would continue to fight for 13 additional officers whose refusal to take the COVID-19 vaccine was not predicated on religious grounds. As such, they were fired and dishonorably discharged from the police force, according to the AP.