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New York City, union reach agreement on vaccine mandate


FILE PHOTO: A woman holds a small bottle labelled with a “Coronavirus COVID-19 Vaccine” sticker in this illustration taken, October 30, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

By Kanishka Singh

(Reuters) -New York City’s public-sector employee union District Council 37 and the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday reached an agreement on a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for over 55,000 city workers.

District Council 37 members who have not provided proof of at least one dose of the vaccine will have the option to resign or take a leave of absence and in both cases, employees will maintain their health benefits, the union said in a statement.

Employees without proof of vaccination who have either not submitted an application for an exemption or who have been denied an exemption may be placed on unpaid leave beginning Nov. 1 through Nov. 30, the union said.

It added that employees will remain eligible for health benefits during this time. District Council 37’s vaccination rate among city employees is now 92%.

The New York City mayor had declared his coronavirus vaccination order for emergency responders a success on Monday, with no disruption to city services, despite a sickout by some firefighters who officials said were protesting the mandate.

The mayor’s Oct. 20 order, which police and firefighter union leaders said would cause staff shortages, led to an 11th-hour rush of inoculations that shrank the ranks of the unvaccinated as officials in the largest U.S. city began enforcing the mandate on Monday morning.

Mandate disputes also have erupted in other cities as political leaders, including President Joe Biden, have sought to stem the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus.

New York City police and firefighter unions also have challenged the mandate. But the Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York said late last month that courts rejected its requests for an emergency order to halt the mandate’s enforcement.

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