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812 unvaccinated Boston city workers placed on unpaid leave

The city of Boston placed more than 800 unvaccinated workers on unpaid leave Tuesday, tightening enforcement of a mandate put in place by acting Mayor Kim Janey.

City officials last week warned approximately 1,400 workers they were out of compliance with the requirement, according to the mayor's office. By Tuesday, 812 people were handed their leave.

In a written statement, a spokesperson said the city was "leading by example with a phased-in vaccination or regular testing mandate."

"We are now implementing contingency plans for bus transportation and other school operations impacted by employee leaves of absence, due to unverified vaccination or testing," the statement reads. "We continue to work closely with our diverse workforce, and our union partners, to ensure employees have access to vaccination, testing and verification systems to comply with the mandate."

The move from Boston is the latest flashpoint in vaccination mandates playing out across the country. A union representing Massachusetts State Police troopers sued Gov. Charlie Baker over a similar measure, but lost in court. That union then claimed "dozens" of troopers had filed for retirement because of the requirement, which a spokesperson for the department denied.

Asked in September whether the state's mandate would lead to staffing shortages, Baker said he wasn't concerned, and that, by implementing the measure, "I think we're going to get people vaccinated."

Since then, however, Baker has activated the National Guard to help transport children to school in several cities and towns. And on Tuesday, he called upon the Guard again, this time to implement COVID-19 testing in schools and to cover staffing shortages in the state's prisons. The union representing prison guards has also sued the state over the mandate.

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Roberto Scalese Twitter Senior Editor, Digital
Roberto Scalese is a senior editor for digital.

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