By Jessica Mathews /

Hamburg Township is the first local municipality to adopt a policy affirming that it will not require COVID-19 vaccinations as a condition of employment.

The Board of Trustees met Tuesday afternoon and approved a COVID vaccination policy in a 6-1 vote. The agenda item was added by Treasurer Jason Negri, who said a staff member approached him with concerns about privacy issues and the township possibly requiring vaccinations for employees.

The policy has five points and affirms that vaccination will not be a condition of employment in any form and states the township won’t inquire into the vaccination status of any employees. It also includes language stating no employee will harass, intimidate or threaten another employee based on vaccination status.

Negri commented that there’s a level of trending in society and he felt it made sense in the current environment. He said he felt it would be helpful to make an affirmative statement and provide a degree of reassurance to employees who aren’t certain with the way things are going and it is only intended to address the issue of vaccine mandates.

There was never any talk of making vaccination a condition of employment.

Trustee Cindy Michniewicz was the lone opposed vote, although some other members appeared to have reservations but indicated they would support the policy. She said as township leaders they should be promoting the public health, safety, and general welfare of residents and felt the community could interpret their actions as the opposite in passing the policy.

Michniewicz commented that said she felt many of the points stated aren’t issues at this time and shouldn’t be made into any. She said she would be concerned for any employee who might experience any kind of intimidation, threats, or a hostile work environment but noted they already have an anti-harassment policy in place to protect them. Michniewicz further questioned the motive and if there was fear of a blanket mandate from the state or county, which she doesn’t think will happen.

During the meeting, one employee was of the mindset “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” and commented that the township hasn’t had an opinion on the matter and it’s been a personal choice left up to employees.

Supervisor Pat Hohl said he didn’t want to impose anything on anyone and thinks people should be vaccinated but if not that’s their choice. He commented that the township has never contemplated doing any kind of mandate or making it a condition of employment but he would support whatever the board wanted to do. Hohl added he wasn’t aware of any problems or concerns and noted the township has a strong anti-intimidation policy.

Clerk Mike Dolan said different employers are requiring vaccination as a condition of employment and they owe it to staff to make the township’s position clear. He stressed the policy simply says they will not and it only applies to COVID vaccination.

Trustee Bill Hahn said he would support the policy but felt the board should be recommending that people who don’t have health or religious issues get vaccinated.

Trustee Chuck Menzies indicated he didn’t have any problem with it.

Trustee Patricia Hughes felt that some language should be included to instruct those who might have COVID protocol issues to go to the HR director. She said they have a lot of people who share space and don’t want to force people to wear masks or take the vaccine but there should be a direction for someone who is perhaps immune-compromised or anyone who feels uncomfortable sitting close in some spaces they have.

Negri and other members were in support of adding something to that effect. The policy is attached.