Steamship Authority adopts employee COVID-19 vaccination verification policy

Posted: January 4, 2022

FALMOUTH (January 4, 2022) – The Woods Hole, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority has adopted an employee COVID-19 vaccination verification policy to further prevent viral infection and transmission among its workforce and the traveling public.

In accordance with the policy, all employees must demonstrate they have received at least one COVID-19 vaccination by January 5, 2022, the first day of the Authority’s winter service schedule. Employees who are not fully vaccinated in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance by February 16, 2022, will be subject to progressive discipline, including and up to termination.

Employees must also continue to maintain COVID-19 vaccinations in compliance with the CDC definition of “fully vaccinated” and as adopted by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

The Authority is providing an incentive of up to $500 per employee to further encourage vaccination adoption.

Union and non-union workers subject to the policy include full-time, part-time, seasonal, intermittent, temporary and contract employees, as well as interns. The policy is consistent with state and federal orders and recommendations issued in 2021 by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and President Joseph Biden for state agencies and authorities and organizations with 100 or more employees.

Exemptions to the policy may be granted upon an employee providing verifiable documentation that COVID-19 vaccination would be detrimental to their health or contradict strongly held religious beliefs. Weekly COVID-19 testing will be required in such instances.

“Protecting the health and safety of our employees and customers is a critical priority as we continue to be affected by the pandemic and emerging variants of COVID-19,” said Steamship Authority General Manager Robert B. Davis. “It is imperative that all employees be vaccinated to help halt the spread of COVID-19, and implementation of the verification policy is a major step toward achieving that goal.”

Although it is within the Authority’s management rights to implement this policy, the Authority continues to be in active negotiations with seven of its eight bargaining units regarding the matter. It has secured a Memorandum of Understanding with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which represents the Authority’s reservation clerks, and continues to work toward agreements with employees represented by the Teamsters and the Marine Engineers Beneficiary Association.

The Steamship Authority continues to require strict COVID-19 precautionary measures be taken on board its vessels and within its shoreside facilities, including a U.S. Coast Guard mandated mask requirement for all employees and passengers. Steamship Authority personnel use hospital-grade disinfectants on board all vessels to perform a cleaning of both public and employee areas. The cleaning is part of a daily regimen by the Authority’s terminal employees and vessel crews to thoroughly clean and disinfect all high-touch areas, including hand railings, table tops, door handles, seats, faucets, and toilets.

Since 1960, the Woods Hole, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority has served as the transportation lifeline to the islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard year-round. The Steamship Authority is the largest ferry service to the islands and offers the most frequent daily departures for passengers, automobiles, groups and trucks. In 2019, over 3 million passengers and over 670,000 vehicles were transported to and from the islands. Our U.S. Coast Guard-certified crews are committed to the highest level of safety at sea while our vessels offer comfort and convenience with spacious seating, free Wi-Fi and TV on board.