Mayor Bill de Blasio stood by his decision Thursday requiring all city employees get vaccinated for COVID-19 by Friday, Oct. 29, which will result in unpaid leave for some who don’t want to get the shot.
Last week, municipal workers had the opportunity to make an extra $500 in their paychecks for receiving their first shot. That incentive ends tomorrow as all city employees are required to have proof of at least one dose. Unvaccinated employees will be placed on unpaid leave indefinitely, as of Monday.
“My job is to keep people safe, my employees and 8.8 million people,” de Blasio said. “Until we defeat COVID, people are not safe. If we don’t stop COVID, New Yorkers will die. We must stop COVID, and the way to do that is vaccination. And that must include our public employees, in fact, they need to lead the way.”
According to de Blasio, about 74% of NYPD personnel have been vaccinated, EMS is at 74%, the Department of Sanitation is at 67% and the Fire Department is at 64%.
The mayor made clear that he expects these numbers to dramatically increase over the next few days as unvaccinated workers realize they won’t be receiving a paycheck come Monday.
“We expected that a lot of the vaccinations would happen toward the end of the deadline,” de Blasio said. “We also know a lot of people make the decision [to get vaccinated] once they realize they’re not going to get paid. Any need will be filled with people who are properly trained and people ready to do the job.”
The remarks came as scores of firefighters and other city workers opposed to the mandate protested outside Gracie Mansion.
The mayor reassured the city that contingency plans, such as utilizing mandatory overtime and rescheduling, will be “exceptional” in filling the gaps. However, the unions like the Police Benevolent Association (PBA) have vowed to protect its members.
PBA filed a lawsuit on Oct. 25, claiming the mandate violates officers’ “right to bodily integrity.” New York City’s firefighters’ union advised unvaccinated employees to show up to work despite the mandate. The AP reported that the mandate could close up to 20 percent of firehouses by Monday, Nov. 1.
De Blasio however is not worried and pointed to the success of mandating vaccinations for Department of Education workers.
“There was tremendous worry about what would happen, it’s almost as if there was no transition whatsoever. Ultimately, we ended up with 96% of school employees vaccinated and since the deadline, 3,500 more have gotten vaccinated.”
The courts have said the city has a right to require vaccines for its employees. A New York judge on Wednesday, Oct. 27, refused to pause the mandate set to go into effect tomorrow for all city municipal workers.