New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday said all city workers will be required to get vaccinated against COVID-19, eliminating an option to get tested and building on prior mandates for teachers and health workers
The new mandate applies to roughly 160,500 workers and impacts police officers, firefighters and sanitation workers. Corrections officers in health settings will be impacted, but others won’t be subject to the mandate until Dec. 1 as the city addresses staffing issues at Rikers Island.
Workers will have until Oct. 29 at 5 p.m. to get at least one dose, and workers who refuse will be placed on leave until they can show proof of vaccination.
Roughly 71% of impacted workers have received at least one dose of a vaccine. The city will add $500 to the paycheck of any worker who comes forward for an initial dose through next week.
“It’s time for everyone to get vaccinated. Our public employees are going to lead us out of the COVID era,” Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat, told MSNBC.
New York City has some of the most stringent vaccine rules in the nation, including a “Key” program that requires proof of vaccination to enter performance halls and restaurants.
The new rules will likely set up a clash with labor unions, which have demanded a bigger seat in negotiating vaccine rules in the city and elsewhere in America.
Patrick J. Lynch, president of the Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York, said on Oct. 6 the union will “continue to protect the rights of members who are not vaccinated.”
New York City hospital workers and public school teachers have been subject to vaccine mandates since September and each sector has vaccination rates above 90%.
Mr. de Blasio said the vaccinate-or-test option he set up in July “hasn’t gotten us where we need to go.”
“You have the right to go on unpaid leave, we’re going to work with your union to figure out what happens next. But the bottom line is we’re not going to pay people unless they’re vaccinated,” Mr. de Blasio told MSNBC. “They’re not going to lose their jobs. They can correct and come back. I think that’s compassionate, I think that’s right.”