HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association (PSCOA) is not happy with Governor Wolf after he announced mandatory vaccination/testing policy for state employees on Tuesday, Aug. 10.

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The PSCOA released a letter in response to the mandate, stating that “since the beginning of the pandemic, Corrections employees have gone to work every day in horrible conditions. They have worked excruciatingly long hours and weeks without days off.” The letter continues by stating “your decision this week to mandate vaccinations and/or testing is a slap in the face — and, frankly, way too late because thousands of our members already have been infected, due to your inaction.”

The letter is signed by PSCOA President John Eckenrode and is directed towards Governor Wolf and the General Assembly.

Gov. Wolf’s mandate states that all Commonwealth employees in state health care facilities and high-risk congregate-care facilities will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by September 7.

Click image to read full letter

The letter also states that the PSCOA asked Acting Department of Health Secretary Alison Beam in January to prioritize Corrections employees for vaccinations, but was not given the option until late March. It states that thousands of Corrections employees contracted the virus during the winter surge due to the struggles of receiving a vaccine.

Eckenrode states at the end of the letter that the policy for inmates is to not require masks at facilities, but employees are required to wear them. He says this doesn’t help improve safety due to the natural congregation that occurs in correctional facilities.

The final line of the letter states “for months, our reasonable requests have fallen on deaf ears. Pennsylvania’s Corrections employees deserve better.”

Lyndsay Kensinger, Press Secretary for Governor Wolf, responded to the letter by saying “The union exists to protect and support the employees it represents, so the corrections union’s opposition to this initiative to stop the spread of COVID-19 is extremely disappointing. This is an initiative that incentivizes employees who work with our most vulnerable populations to protect themselves, their families, and those they work amongst. Our corrections officers work hard every day to ensure the public’s safety and this initiative gives them the tools to protect themselves and their families and coworkers. Getting vaccinated is the most simple and effective way they can protect the public and themselves from the COVID-19 pandemic.”