9,000 NYC workers on unpaid leave for not complying with vaccine requirement

Nov 2, 2021, 6:48 AM | Updated: 6:51 am
Firefighters rally outside Mayor Bill De Blasio's residence Gracie Mansion to protest COVID-19 vacc...
Firefighters rally outside Mayor Bill De Blasio's residence Gracie Mansion to protest COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city workers, Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021, in New York. The city is bracing for a worker shortage as tens of thousands of municipal employees remain unvaccinated. (AP Photo/Jeenah Moon)
(AP Photo/Jeenah Moon)

   (CNN) — About 9,000 of New York City’s 378,000 municipal employees were on leave without pay as of Monday because they haven’t complied with a Covid-19 vaccine mandate for city workers, the mayor said Monday.

Members of the fire and police departments and other city workers had until 5 p.m. Friday to show proof they have received at least one vaccine dose or request an exemption; otherwise, they would be placed on unpaid leave. The same mandate was already in effect for city health care and education workers.

About 91% of the city’s employees have received at least one dose, including large percentages of first responders, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday.

The number of city employees on leave appears to be less than 3% of the municipal workforce. About 12,000 other employees, meanwhile, have applied for a religious or medical exemption, and the city will decide those cases in coming days, De Blasio said.

De Blasio said Monday the mandate has not resulted in service interruptions for the city police, fire and sanitation departments. However, hundreds of firefighters called in sick Monday as the vaccine mandate went into effect — and the city’s fire commissioner said he believed many called in sick to protest the mandate.

As for city police, the NYPD has an 84% vaccination rate, up from 70% when the citywide vaccine mandate was announced October 20, de Blasio said.

NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said the department’s vaccination percentage was 85%, with the vast majority of the remaining unvaccinated requesting accommodations for religious or medical reasons.


Mayor vows consequences for firefighters if they skipped work to protest vaccine mandate


About 2,300 city firefighters have called in sick since the vaccine mandate went into effect, fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro said at a news conference Monday.

Nigro said he believed many people calling in sick were protesting the vaccine mandate.

“If you’re sick, you’re sick, it’s a dangerous job. I get it. If you’re not sick, I want to see you back at work,” Nigro said.

Normally, 800-1,000 fire department employees call in sick on any given day, FDNY spokesperson Jim Long told CNN.

De Blasio said Monday that any firefighters feigning illness to protest the vaccine mandate are “doing an immense disservice” to the city,.

“The folks who are out sick and really aren’t sick — the folks who are faking it — are doing an immense disservice to the people of this city and to their fellow members of service,” de Blasio said during an interview on Spectrum NY1, adding, “We will make sure there are consequences for that.”

The FDNY-Firefighters Association, which opposes the mandate, suggested firefighters could be taking sick leave due to reactions to receiving the vaccine over the weekend.

But the mayor said the city was looking into whether the firefighters’ union had coordinated any “sick-out.”

“If the union coordinates — in any way — a job action, that is a violation of the Taylor Law,” de Blasio said, referencing a New York state law that prohibits public employees from striking.

The mayor said the city was willing to “go to court immediately” over any alleged Taylor Law violation.

“There’s a certain point where responsible, decent people who say they believe in American values need to recognize there’s been due process, democracy has happened,” de Blasio said of the mandates. “The people spoke.”

Despite the large number of firefighters calling in sick, de Blasio said New Yorkers remained safe.

“There’s a lot of members of the fire department — there’s a lot of redundancy,” he said, adding that scheduled training and maintenance was canceled Monday in order to maximize the number of on-duty firefighters. “Response time has been very strong.”

Nigro, the FDNY commissioner, said at a news conference earlier Monday that 18 fire units were out of service out of 350, though no firehouses had closed.

“If you’re sick, you’re sick, it’s a dangerous job. I get it. If you’re not sick, I want to see you back at work,” Nigro said.

“Once the members come to their senses and stop using medical leave improperly, they can help out not only the citizens of the city but their brothers and sisters who are staffing these units,” Nigro added.


Union is ‘not anti-vaccine,’ leader says


According to city figures Monday morning, 77% of FDNY firefighters had received a vaccine, up from 58% when the vaccine mandate was announced on October 20. Emergency Management Services employees within the FDNY have an 88% vaccination rate, up from 61%.

FDNY-Firefighters Association President Andrew Ansbro said Monday morning that he didn’t know how many firefighters would not be permitted to work due to still being unvaccinated, stating the FDNY does not share those numbers with them.

“I don’t have access to numbers of who’s gone sick, but I do know that hundreds of firefighters have received their Covid vaccination in the last several days. No one should be expected to work less than 100%. Everyone knows the vaccine causes mild flu-like symptoms regularly, so these members are not coming to work feeling those symptoms,” Ansbro said.

He said the vaccine mandate is “causing an exodus” of firefighters from the department and the remaining firefighters are “going to have to work to the breaking point” to make up for the staffing shortages. Ansbro maintained the union is “not anti-vaccine, we are anti-mandate.”

FDNY-Fire Officers Association President Jim McCarthy said Monday morning “all we are asking for is extra time” regarding the city mandate, so their members can have more time to make decisions on whether to get the vaccine, to file any religious or medical exemptions, or potentially decide to retire.

McCarthy said the department’s previous policy of testing unvaccinated FDNY members for Covid-19 was working.

™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

Today’s Top Stories


Mosquitos at a Utah lab are pictured....
Britt Johnson

Uptick in mosquitos in Utah caused by recent weather and temperatures

Mosquitos in Utah have seen a growth in population thanks to recent weather. While aggressive, they are not the disease-carrying breed.
1 day ago
Turkey and cattle farms near Moroni, Utah. Three additional cases of avian influenza have been conf...
Mark Jones

Three additional cases of avian influenza confirmed in Sanpete County

The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food announced Friday that three additional cases of avian influenza have been confirmed on turkey farms in Sanpete County.
4 days ago
A sign for the Food and Drug Administration is seen outside of the headquarters in July 2020 in Whi...
Jacqueline Howard, CNN

ALS drug gets FDA approval despite uncertainty about effectiveness

The US Food and Drug Administration approved a new treatment for ALS on Thursday.
4 days ago
university of utah...
Mark Jones

University of Utah Health among the nation’s top 10 for 13th year in row

The 2022 Vizient Bernard A. Birnbaum, MD, Quality Leadership Award has ranked University of Utah Health in the top 10 for the 13th straight year.
5 days ago
intermountain healthcare...
Mark Jones

Name change coming to Intermountain Healthcare next year

In 2023, Intermountain Healthcare will change its name to Intermountain Health.
7 days ago
ovarian cancer...
Simone Seikaly

A new chance for a fighting chance against ovarian cancer

What may be most alarming about ovarian cancer is that the symptoms are there, but they are quiet and can be mistaken for something else.
7 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Young woman receiving laser treatment...
Form Derm Spa

How facial plastic surgery and skincare are joining forces

Facial plastic surgery is not only about looking good but about feeling good too. The medical team at Form Spa are trained to help you reach your aesthetic outcomes through surgery and through skincare and dermatology, too.
large group of friends tohether in a park having fun...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

What differentiates BYU’s MBA program from other MBA programs

Commitment to service is at the heart of BYU’s MBA program, which makes it stand out among other MBA programs across the country.
a worker with a drill in an orange helmet installs a door in the house...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

Home improvement tip: Increase the value of your home by weatherproofing doors

Make sure your home is comfortable before the winter! Seasonal maintenance keeps your home up to date. Read our tips on weatherproofing doors.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
A paper reading IRS, internal revenue service is pictured...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
9,000 NYC workers on unpaid leave for not complying with vaccine requirement