NYC reaches deal with four unions over COVID-19 vaccine exemptions

NYC reaches deal with four unions over COVID-19 vaccine exemptions
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New York City (NYC) Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioWatershed moment in NYC: New law allows noncitizens to vote Hochul calls for permanent legal to-go cocktails in NY Andy Cohen blasts de Blasio during Times Square NYE MORE announced in a statement Friday that New York has reached an agreement with four labor unions over the city's vaccine mandate. 

The agreement would cover 75,000 workers represented by DC 37, Teamsters Local 237, Uniformed Sanitationmen's Association Local 831 and SEIU Local 300, according to the statement.

It would keep the mandate while allowing for some workers to ask for exemptions, and sets up rules for those workers pending appeals of decisions on their exemptions.

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“Vaccinations are critical to our recovery and our city workforce is leading the way,” de Blasio said in the statement. “92 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.”

The agreement allows employees who have applied for a medical or religious exemption from the vaccine to appeal a decision by an arbitrator.

Union members covered by the deal who filed a request for an exemption by Nov. 2 will remain on payroll and be eligible for a weekly COVID-19 testing option as they appeal an arbitrator's decision.

Employees who request an exemption between Nov. 3 and Nov. 5 can stay on payroll and have weekly testing pending a decision on their exemption. However, these employees must take paid leave if they appeal a decision.

The agreement between NYC and the unions still gives the city the right to put unvaccinated employees who do not have an exemption on unpaid leave or health benefits, which became effective the first of the month, according to the mayor's statement. 

On Wednesday, 2,000 firefighters in NYC took medical leave in a so-called "sickout" despite accusations from other officials that they are abusing their sick time and neglecting their duties and oath to protect New Yorkers.

In addition, NYC's Mayor-elect Eric Adams stated he wants to "revisit" the city's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city workers, while de Blasio has consistently defended the mandate, reiterating that it has helped raise the vaccination rate among the city's workers.