Alaska Railroad Corporation (ARRC) employees must be deemed fully vaccinated by Dec. 8, unless granted a religion or medical exemption. Those who decline the COVID shot “will no longer meet the requirements to continue employment with ARRC.”
The mandate announcement was issued by the company’s President and CEO Bill O’Leary in an Oct. 22 letter to employees (see here and here). He begins by noting that Alaska Railroad has remained operational throughout the pandemic without ever requiring employees to vaccinate.
“Our employees have diverse and often deeply held views on this topic, and we respect those differences,” O’Leary writes. “Now the situation has changed.”
Due to President Biden’s Sept. 9 executive order, which mandates that businesses with federal contracts to have a fully vaccinated workforce, now all Alaska Railroad workers must take the shot. The mandate applies to all employees, including those who work remotely.
“As a federal contractor, ARRC must meet this standard,” O’Leary stated. “We understand that for some employees this news will require a difficult decision. We don’t want anyone to leave the company because of this new mandate, yet, we do not have a choice. To disregard the EO could cause substantial legal, regulatory and financial harm to our organization, and ultimately, to our workforce.”
Those requesting a medical or religion exemptions must do so before Nov. 24, but these may be denied if the company believes the accommodations would “cause undue hardship,” or pose a “direct health-and-safety threat to others.”
Those who do received exemptions would be required to undergo weekly COVID tests and continue masking and social distancing even after such mandates are lifted for the vaxxed. Additionally, unvaxxed workers could not attend in-person events and may be put on unpaid leaves of absence, O’Leary warned.
ALASKA WATCHMAN DIRECT TO YOUR INBOX
The Alaska Railroad is a state-owned corporation that is operated like a private business. It must generate enough revenues from train and real estate services to cover workforce, operations and infrastructure expenses. Alaska Railroad employees are not part of the state personnel system.
The railroad began in 1903 as a private company. Ownership was transferred to the State of Alaska in 1983.
To contact the Alaska Railroad, call (907) 265.2357 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.