By Liam Reilly and Artemis Moshtaghian, CNN
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration has signed agreements with 20 unions to reaffirm the city’s vaccine mandate, the mayor’s deputy press secretary said Friday.
The deal does not include the unions representing the fire department or the police department, spokesperson Laura Feyer said.
The agreements with the unions allow those city employees to seek exemptions on religious or medical grounds and require routine Covid-19 testing in the interim.
The 20 unions comprise about 96,000 city employees.
The mayor’s office offered to bargain with all 42 unions in the city, Feyer said.
The New York City Department of Education and New York City Health and Hospitals previously reached deals with unions over the vaccine mandate and were excluded from union agreements the city announced Thursday.
The city said Friday it is still negotiating with the other unions that make up the Municipal Labor Committee, a consortium of unions representing employees of the city’s various agencies.
Details of the deal — exemptions and testing
Employees in 20 unions who filed for a medical or religious exemptions before November 2 will remain on the city’s payroll and have to submit to weekly coronavirus testing, according to a statement released Thursday by the mayor’s office.
Employees granted exemptions will have to continue to submit to regular testing, while those denied exemption and seeking appeal will be kept on payroll, the announcement said.
City employees seeking religious or medical exemptions between November 3 and November 5 will also be kept on payroll while awaiting the determination of their exemption status, however, they will not be kept on payroll if they then appeal, according to the city’s statement.
Municipal employees in the 20 unions placed on leave without pay have the option to voluntarily leave their jobs while still retaining health insurance through June 30. The employees may still opt to extend their leave until June 30, though they must also agree to voluntarily leave their places of employment, thereby waiving any rights to challenge their accommodation verdict should they fail to be vaccinated by the same date.
Unvaccinated employees who decide to receive the Covid-19 vaccine are permitted to return to work after one dose, according to the mayor’s office.
The latest vaccination numbers
De Blasio’s office says as of Thursday, 92% of the city’s total workforce — including members of the NYC Department of Education and NYC Health and Hospitals — had received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine while 18,600 city municipal members were still unvaccinated.
The fie department’s EMS workers are 90% vaccinated, while the overall rate for the FDNY (including firefighters, EMS, and civilian workers) is 84%, based on data released by the mayor’s office.
Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro and the two fire unions could not be reached for comment at the time of this writing.
Both the sanitation department and police department have a vaccination rate of 86%.
A spokesman for NYC mayor-elect Eric Adams said Adams “has continually said that it is essential the mayor and unions come to the table to ensure vaccine mandate details are decided together — and so he is glad (de Blasio) and those unions reached an agreement.”
Spokesperson Evan Thies added the mayor-elect “strongly encourages the mayor to now sit down with the fire and police unions to do the same.”
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