NYC firefighters union leader tells unvaccinated members to defy mandate

NYC firefighters union leader tells unvaccinated members to defy mandate
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The head of New York City's firefighters union said on Wednesday that he has advised unvaccinated members to disregard Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioOvernight Health Care — Presented by March of Dimes — Biden's winter COVID-19 strategy Five omicron cases detected in New York Third US omicron case detected in Colorado MORE's (D) order placing city workers on unpaid leave if they didn't get vaccinated.

"I have told my members that if they choose to remain unvaccinated, they must still report for duty," Andrew Ansbro said during a news conference, according to Reuters.

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"If they are told they cannot work, it will be the department and city of New York that sends them home. And it will be the department and the city of New York that has failed to protect the citizens of New York," he added. 

According to Ansbro, New York City firefighters felt "insulted" by de Blasio's order as they had risked their health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last week, de Blasio expanded the city's vaccine mandate to include all public employees and ended the weekly COVID-19 testing opt-out option. De Blasio's order required workers to provide proof of vaccination by Oct. 29. A vaccine mandate was previously in place for health care and education workers.

Ansbro's remarks come shortly after New York City public employees staged a protest march against de Blasio's vaccine mandate on Monday. As Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported, protesters carried signs reading "Do we ask your vaccine status when you call 911?" and "Essential yesterday, unemployed today."

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AFP noted that 60 percent of the New York City Fire Department's roughly 17,000 staff members are believed to be vaccinated at this point.

Another union representing New York City public workers, the New York City Police Benevolent Association (PBA), announced on Monday that it had filed a lawsuit against the city over its vaccine mandate.

PBA President Patrick Lynch said the organization planned on requesting a temporary restraining order on the implementation of the vaccine mandate while the suit is pending.