NEW YORK – Approximately 9,000 New York City public workers were put on unpaid leave for choosing to defend their civil liberties over the Mayor’s “No Jab, No Job” COVID-19 vaccine mandate that took effect Monday and thousands of city firefighters have called out sick as a potential protest. Mayor Bill De Blasio expressed his joy for some additional 3,500 employees that opted to get the vaccine before losing their livelihood.
Thousands of city workers took to the streets in various protests against the vaccine mandates last week. On Tuesday, October 26th, a rally of thousands of city workers shut down the Brooklyn Bridge as they made their way from Brooklyn to City Hall in Manhattan. Another large protest gathered in front of Gracie Mansion where sanitation workers dump and left garbage. But the mayor is counting on workers “to do the right thing” by getting vaccinated as he strips them from their jobs.
“This is how communism works, we are living the final days of our democracy and next they’re coming for our children… I made a big mistake during the last elections,” said a protestor who identified himself as Juan Garcia during the Brooklyn Bridge rally.
Pfizer and other vaccine manufacturers have seen positive gains since the vaccine rollouts, and government enforcement has helped boost shares even further. Although, Moderna stock drop from FDA concerns of potential side affects of the mRNA vaccine in children which will delay its approval for ages 12 to 17 rollout. This provides Pfizer a clear advantage over the distribution of the mRNA vaccines, despite having similar technology. Pfizer projects to profit $65 billion from the total sales of COVID-19 vaccines as New York City looks to start mandating children ages 5 to 11 to also get vaccinated. Effects of COVID-19 are often mild and rare.
De Blasio told reporters at his daily news briefing that the majority of municipal workers covered have gotten vaccinated and there have been no disruptions to city services as a result of staffing shortages.
Firehouses remained open but 18 of the department’s 350 units were out of service and “many units are understaffed,” Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said. Sanitation workers made an extra pickup on Sunday to ensure trash wouldn’t pile up, the mayor said.
“I want to thank everyone who got vaccinated,” de Blasio said. “Thank you for getting vaccinated. Thank you for doing the right thing. Thank you for moving us forward.”
Various police officers and firefighters are doing a strong stand against city officials for they consider an over reach of government use power and violation , as well as a pending legal challenge to the mandate by the city’s largest police union.
As of Sunday, 1 in 4 of the city’s uniformed firefighters still hadn’t gotten a first dose of the vaccine, as required. About 1 in 6 police personnel and 1 in 6 sanitation workers were still unvaccinated.
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said the vast majority of unvaccinated workers in his department have applied for religious or medical exemptions to the vaccine mandate. So far, just 34 police officers and 40 civilian police employees have been placed on unpaid leave he said.
More than 3,500 city workers were vaccinated over the weekend. That was after a 5 p.m. Friday deadline to collect a $500 bonus for showing proof they’d gotten a dose of the vaccine but before they were to be put on unpaid leave.
About 12,000 workers have applied for religious or medical exemptions. They can remain on the job while city officials review those applications.
About 2,300 firefighters were out sick, up from what’s normally about 1,000 per day, in what Nigro said appeared to be a protest against the vaccine mandate. The fire department’s medical office normally sees about 200 people a day, Nigro said. The past week, it has been 700 a day, the majority unvaccinated.
De Blasio said the city is watching to see if the firefighters union is coordinating the sick outs and would take them to court if there’s evidence of an illegal strike. He said firefighters who are found to be faking illness are “AWOL effectively” and will face internal department discipline.
“People get really troubled really quick when people don’t show up to do their jobs if they’re not really sick,” de Blasio said. “And we have every reason to believe there’s a lot of people out there claiming to be sick, who are not. It’s not acceptable.”
City officials have said they are prepared for possible staffing shortfalls, calling in vaccinated employees for overtime shifts.
The head of the union that represents New York City firefighters, which has fought the vaccine mandate, warned that public safety could be at risk. The fire department has said it was prepared to take up to 20% of its fire companies out of service and and have 20% fewer ambulances on the road.
“We’re here today because of a mandate that was put not only on our members, but also all New York City employees, given nine days to make a life-changing decision on their career or whether or not they’re going to take a vaccine,” Uniformed Firefighters Association President Andrew Ansbro said at an early morning news conference.