After much criticism from leaders at District Council 37, the union and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio reached a new HYPERLINK “https://www.dc37.net/wp-content/uploads/news/headlines/pdfs/Summary_of_Agreement_DC37_NYC_11_04_2021_COVID_vaccine.pdf” agreement concerning 55,000 city employees and a COVID-19 vaccine.

As of this week, union members who don’t have, or can’t show proof of at least one vaccination dose can either take a leave of absence or resign.

But they would keep their health benefits.

“Now, the labor unions have continued to come forward and reach agreement with us on the implementation of the mandate,” said de Blasio during a news briefing this week. “We’ve now got 20 labor unions, all of whom had members of the workforce for that October 20th announcement. Twenty labor unions that have come to an agreement.” 

The vaccination rate among DC 37 members is 92%, which was the number for all municipal employees combined as of last week.

“We have reached an agreement that gives our member options,” said Henry Garrido, Executive Director of DC 37, in a statement. “Individuals can now make choices based on what is best for them and their families and know they will have health benefits available during this critical time.” 

As of last week, all public workers were mandated to get the COVID-19 vaccine or go on unpaid leave.

According to the terms of the agreement, employees can apply for medical or religious exemption through the usual procedures that are used to ask for accommodations. If denied, workers have three days to appeal. Those who submitted exemptions before last week can keep working while the rest will be subjected to weekly testing throughout the length of the exemption.

But if a worker is denied exemption, hasn’t applied for one, and/or hasn’t provided proof of vaccination, they will be put on unpaid administrative leave for the rest of November.

But union leaders did understand the nature of the COVID threat and pushed for all its members to get vaccinated. Before the negotiations ended Garrido told his constituents in an email: “We encourage all our members to get vaccinated to protect themselves and their families. The proposed mandate must be collectively bargained and we expect City Hall to slow down and sit down with us.”

The City had other issues with public unions HYPERLINK “https://amsterdamnews.com/news/2021/11/04/will-they-be-missed-unvaccinated-city-workers-take-their-last-stand/” last week after getting pushback on the mandate from the police, firefighters, EMS workers and correction officers. At the time, according to the city, 84% of fire department workers are vaccinated, 63% of the city’s correction officers are vaccinated, 85% of the police force is vaccinated, 83% of sanitation workers are vaccinated and 90% of FDNY paramedics are vaccinated.

Some, however, have called out sick in protest of the vaccine mandate.

De Blasio didn’t mention them during his remarks on the DC 37 deal.

“They represent almost 100,000 employees,” said the mayor about the union. “So, people are moving forward together, and our door remains open, always. Any other unions that want to have that discussion on how to come to an agreement, we’re ready. We’ve proven we can do it with some of the unions already. And for the good of New York City, look, in the end, this is what matters, every day more and more people getting vaccinated, including folks who we depend on to do such important work.”

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