Mayor Bill de Blasio has declared one of the most sweeping vaccine mandates in the nation, requiring all city employees to get their first shot by October 29, or be placed on unpaid leave, no exceptions. The deadline for New York police and firefighters is November 1, although the PBA, New York City's police union, has pledged to fight the mandate.
Starting Wednesday, city employees will receive an extra $500 in their paycheck for receiving their first shot at a city-run vaccination site. This benefit will end at 5 p.m. on the deadline day.
Employees who do not get vaccinated will be placed on unpaid leave, and their future employment will be determined in following negotiations with individual labor unions.
Correction officers will face a later deadline of December 1.
"We said we're not firing people on the spot, we're saying in plans we came up with other unions, we said please get vaccinated by the deadline," Mayor Bill de Blasio announced. "If you do, you continue with your work. If you don't, you're going to leave without pay."
Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi will sign a Commissioner's Order on Wednesday to formalize the mandate, which will immediately apply to roughly 160,500 City workers.
Approximately 71% of employees have at least one shot, with the number shooting up to 95% in the 11 city-run hospitals and 96% in schools, where vaccinations are mandatory.
The new mandate is effective on November 1 to the whole municipal workforce, including all NYPD, FDNY, and DSNY employees.
De Blasio announced he thinks unvaccinated workers will rush to receive a shot when they have a deadline. He announced that's what happened with both teachers and health care workers.
Demonstrators heard from Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and others who spoke on personal liberty and limited government. Chants of "defund the media," "freedom," and "Let's Go Brandon" swept through the crowd.
Over the past 18 months, New Yorkers have undergone some of the most stringent pandemic measures in the nation, such as mask mandates, school closures, and total lockdowns. The latest vaccine mandates add insult to injury for numerous workers who otherwise have performed their duties adequately during the pandemic. Those workers are now faced with a choice between the vaccine or their livelihoods.
For now, demonstrations like the one in Times Square on Saturday are likely to continue. As one demonstrator's sign put it, "the people's patience is wearing thin."