Winston-Salem to offer bonuses up to $1,000 to vaccinated city employees

Winston-Salem to offer bonuses up to $1,000 to vaccinated city employees

4:22pm Oct 19, 2021
Just 34% of Winston-Salem's city employees have been vaccinated. GERRY BROOME/AP

The city of Winston-Salem is offering up to $1,000 to city employees who get their COVID-19 shots. 

City Council voted unanimously Monday to approve the policy, which gives employees six weeks to submit proof of full vaccination to qualify for the bonuses. Those who do not will be required to submit to weekly testing or get an approved medical or religious exemption. 

The measure only passed after it had been revised in response to protests from some city workers, who called the initial proposal too punitive. Under the original policy, those who failed to get vaccinated or get tested could face consequences including termination or loss of promotion eligibility. 

Councilmember Robert Clark called the new measure “a carrot” to motivate people to get their shots. 

“I want us not to lose sight of what our true goal is and that is to get back to normal and to get this terrible pandemic behind us," said Clark. "And the best way to do that is for folks to get vaccinated.”

Just 34% of the city’s employees have been vaccinated. Raleigh, Durham, and Cary all have rates in the 70s. 

Council plans to review the policy’s efficacy in December.

Separately during Monday’s meeting, the council approved plans to purchase land along Peters Creek Parkway in hopes of turning it into affordable housing.

The council voted unanimously to authorize the $235,000 purchase. The five-acre lot is undeveloped and was zoned for commercial use.

Councilmember John Larson said the city’s purchase will result in outcomes more in line with the community’s needs. 

“So I'm interested in trying to get a little skin in the game here and provide some control to what happens in the neighborhood,” said Larson. “And I think we have the potential for doing something creative and innovative here that maybe we haven't done before in our affordable housing objectives.”

Concrete plans for the lot’s development weren’t discussed in the meeting, but council members said the focus will be on single-family housing, rather than multi-family complexes. 

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