New York City police union files suit to block COVID vaccine mandate

The largest union representing New York City Police Department officers followed through on its promise from last week and filed a lawsuit Monday seeking to stop the city from imposing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate on city workers.

The Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York (NYC PBA), which serves more than 50,000 active and retired NYPD officers, filed the suit in a Staten Island state court. Along with the suit, it also requested a temporary restraining order that would block city leaders from turning back unvaccinated workers starting next Monday.

Last week, New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi signed an order requiring all city workers – except for some uniformed corrections workers – to receive at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by 5 p.m. on Friday. Those who fail to comply and show proof of their vaccination will be placed on unpaid leave starting Nov. 1.

The city took the step after making similar requirements for its education and healthcare workforces. Uniformed corrections officers who do not work in Rikers Island’s health care department or deal with local hospitals serving inmates do not need to get vaccinated until Dec. 1.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said last week his administration would start negotiating with labor unions representing city workers to include the vaccine mandate as part of the collective bargaining agreements.

However, in a statement posted on Twitter on Monday afternoon, NYC PBA President Patrick Lynch said NYPD leaders have not responded to the union’s questions on implementing a mandate. Instead, he claims NYPD leaders are awaiting direction from the mayor’s office.

“Once again, it is clear that the NYPD is being run directly by Mayor de Blasio and his advisors, who care more about politics than public health or public safety,” Lunch said in the statement.

Also, hundreds of city workers took to the streets Monday to protest the mandate. The march took them across the Brooklyn Bridge, with many chanting and holding signs they would not comply with the mandate.

According to a memo released Thursday by New York City Chief of EMS Lillian Bonsignore, city workers can seek an exemption for “sincerely held religious belief or a medical contraindication” but must make the request by Wednesday in order for workers to avoid going on unpaid leave next week.

The city is also offering the 46,000 city workers who are currently not vaccinated but would be impacted by the order a $500 incentive to get a shot and show proof by Friday.

The mayor told reporters most city workers are complying with the mandate. He again pointed out that 3,500 Department of Education workers who were placed on unpaid leave after missing the deadline have since come back to work after getting a shot.

Other city workers will receive the same opportunity.

“There’s still a lot of misinformation,” de Blasio said about the vaccines. “Some people are being swayed by it.”

This article was originally posted on New York City police union files suit to block COVID vaccine mandate

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