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A deal was reportedly made between New York City and four of the city’s main unions on Thursday regarding the city’s vaccine mandate and exemptions.
The deal “reaffirms the city’s right to impose it and ends litigation intended to block it, while making some allowances for employees who filed medical or religious exemption requests by Nov. 2, City Hall said Thursday,” per NBC 4 New York.
The outlet added:
The deal is with DC 37, Teamsters Local 237, the Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association Local 831 and SEIU Local 300, which collectively represent about 75,000 public employees, nearly 20% of the city’s 378,000-member workforce.
With the agreement, “employees who have applied for exemption from the vaccine mandate for medical or religious reasons will receive an initial decision from the agency, then have the option to appeal that decision to an arbitrator, who will decide the exemption based on the same criteria used at the [Department of Education],” outlet PIX 11 reported.
Among other specifics, the local outlet noted:
Union members who signed the agreement and filed an exemption request by Nov. 2 will remain on payroll with weekly testing pending determination and appeal.
Employees who filed an exemption request between Nov. 3 and Nov. 5 will remain on payroll with weekly testing, pending initial agency determination. However, they will go on leave without pay (LWOP) if appealing that determination.
Employees who are on LWOP can choose to voluntarily separate from service and can maintain health insurance through June 30, 2022.
Employees on LWOP can also elect to extend the leave until June 30, 2022, but must agree to separate voluntarily with waiver of right to challenge, if not vaccinated, by then.
Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio reportedly spoke about the agreement on Thursday, saying, “Vaccinations are critical to our recovery and our city workforce is leading the way.”
He added, “Ninety-two percent of city employees have stepped up and gotten vaccinated, and this agreement ensures a fair process for those seeking exemptions. Thank you to these unions for working with us to keep New Yorkers safe.”
Last month, de Blasio announced the vaccine mandate for city workers in New York City, leading unions representing workers in the city to say they would bring legal action against the mayor’s requirement. The requirement took effect on Monday.
The mandate has affected many first responders as well, including police officers and firefighters.
As reported by The Daily Wire earlier this week, “In the run-up to the deadline for New York City workers to get the COVID-19 vaccine, more than 2,000 firefighters took sick days in what city officials call a protest.”
Last month, The Daily Wire reported that New York City was at risk of losing “up to 30% of its police force and fire department after October 29 over a mandate that puts officers and firefighters on unpaid leave if they have not received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.”
On Wednesday, New York City Mayor-elect Eric Adams stated that he wants to look back into the city’s vaccine mandates.
Appearing on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Adams stated that the mask mandates should be kept in place, but he seemed more open to evaluating the vaccine mandates.
“We need to revisit how we are going to address the vaccine mandates. Now, I stated I did not want to Monday-morning-quarterback the mayor. This is his time to be the mayor, and he has to make the decisions,” Adams said.
Adams added, however, that he was going to encourage de Blasio “to sit down with the unions.”
“We can work this out,” Adams noted. “This is a very difficult moment, but there’s an opportunity to sit down with the unions. I communicated with some of the union leaders yesterday and they are open to sit down, this is a good opportunity to do so and I’m going to encourage him to make that happen.”