New York City requiring most municipal workers to get COVID vaccine

New York City is giving most of its municipal workers until next Friday to start the COVID-19 vaccination process. Those who have will get a bonus, but workers who do not abide will stop collecting a paycheck.

City Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi was expected to sign an order Wednesday, according to a release from Mayor Bill de Blasio. The mandate will apply to more than 160,000 workers, and about 71% have already received one dose of a vaccine.

“This is a necessary step to further ensure their safety and to help protect those whom we serve,” Chokshi said during the mayor’s news briefing Wednesday morning.

Presently, the city’s education and health and hospitals workforces are already under a mandate, with 96% and 95% compliance in both departments, respectively.

The new mandate will now cover the remaining workforce except for uniformed corrections officers. Unless they work in the health care section of Rikers Island or deal with hospitals related to the corrections department, uniformed corrections workers will not face a mandate for another month as the city deals with issues at Rikers Island.

“We’re giving a few more weeks for the uniforms because we’re in the process right now of bringing back a number of uniformed officers who weren’t present, and we’re in the process of intensely lowering the (jail) population,” de Blasio told reporters.

“So, we need to finish that out. We can do that by Dec. 1.”

The mandate, though, will apply to all New York City police and fire employees as well as nonuniformed corrections staff.

In their initial statements, the labor groups were not in lockstep with de Blasio and other city leaders.

AFSCME District Council 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido said in a statement that the city’s largest public union encourages members to get a shot, but making it a requirement, he added, calls for collective bargaining.

“We expect City Hall to slow down and sit down with us,” he added.

The mayor’s statement said city officials will begin impact bargaining with unions whose members are affected by the order immediately.

The city’s largest police union was not as diplomatic. Patrick Lynch, president of the Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York, said the organization will go to court to protect its members’ rights.

“From the beginning of the de Blasio administration’s haphazard vaccine rollout, we have fought to make the vaccine available to every member who chooses it, while also protecting their right to make that personal medical decision in consultation with their own doctor,” Lynch said in a statement.

City workers who already are fully vaccinated or have started taking their shots will receive a $500 bonus if they show proof of their vaccination by 5 p.m. on Oct. 29.

Chokshi’s order will take effect on Nov. 1. Any employee who did not show proof by the Oct. 29 deadline will go on unpaid leave until they can show proof of their vaccination.

The city does not plan to terminate anyone immediately for not getting a shot. Referring to the Department of Education mandate, de Blasio said 3,500 workers who missed the deadline for vaccination ended up getting inoculated and coming back to work.

“If you’re a city worker, you need to be vaccinated,” he said.

This article was originally posted on New York City requiring most municipal workers to get COVID vaccine

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