City of Tucson to terminate unvaccinated employees, Arizona governor vows legal action

Gov. Doug Ducey calls City Council decision “unfathomable.”
Doug Ducey
Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey
(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The Tucson City Council decided in a 4-3 vote to terminate city employees who are not vaccinated by Dec. 1, resulting in backlash from Gov. Doug Ducey, who called the decision “unfathomable.”

City Manager Michael Ortega recommended the termination of the more than 300 unvaccinated city employees if they did not comply by Dec. 1. Those who miss the deadline will be given notice to terminate by Dec. 3 and have a pre-discharge meeting with their supervisor on Dec. 10. Supervisors will make final termination decisions by Dec. 17.

Unvaccinated Tucson employees were already subject to five-day suspensions as of Aug. 14, but mandate enforcement lapsed on Sept. 7 after Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said the policy violated state law prohibiting local governments from mandating vaccines. Suspension implementation returned when Maricopa County Superior Court judge ruled the law Brnovich claimed the city violated to be unconstitutional.

“The state Legislature has spoken on this issue – they want Arizonans and their sincerely held beliefs to be protected from overreaching mandates,” Ducey tweeted.

Tucson Mayor Regina Romero voted for the measure, as well as Councilmembers Steve Kozachik, Lane Santa Cruz and Karin Uhlich. Councilmembers Paul Cunningham, Nikki Lee and Richard Fimbres voted “no.”

Romero criticized Ducey’s threats of legal action against the city, saying it was a “politically motivated attempt to micromanage Tucson.”

“It is deeply unfortunate not just for Tucsonans, but all Arizonans that Gov. Ducey is more interested in playing politics with the vaccine than taking any action whatsoever to protect public health,” she tweeted.

Ducey said though he encourages Arizonans to get the vaccine, the law prohibits vaccine mandates in Arizona.