Published: Apr. 09, 2022, 5:45 p.m.
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — NYC Council Minority Leader Joseph Borelli (R-South Shore) will be introducing a resolution calling on Mayor Eric Adams to rehire city employees who were fired because they did not get the mandated coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine by the February deadline.
Borelli plans to introduce the measure, which has bipartisan backing from at least seven other councilmembers including Democrats Councilmember Farah Louis (Brooklyn) and Councilmember Kalman Yeger (D-Brooklyn), on Thursday.
“I think we will have more people signing on, there’s broader support in the council than people think,” Borelli told the Advance/SILive.com.
About 1,430 city employees were fired as a result of the mandate, however, that number could rise as thousands of city workers who applied for a medical or religious exemptions are waiting to find out if their waivers have been accepted or denied.
The overall message, Borelli said, is they believe it’s unfair that thousands of city workers remain unemployed while professional athletes and other performers are able to work because Adams made them exempt them from the mandate.
City employees who did not receive at least one dose of a COVID-19 by Feb. 11 were terminated.
The Feb. 11 deadline also applies to new hires – employees who were hired after Aug. 2 and agreed to vaccination as a condition of their employment – and unvaccinated employees who have been on unpaid leave who did not request a continuation of healthcare benefits.
“There must be rules and we must follow them. The rule is to get vaccinated if you are a city employee. You have to follow that. And if you have a reason you can’t, there’s an avenue,” Adams said at the time. “But if you didn’t do that and didn’t follow the rules, we sent a letter out to you,” he continued.
When asked during a media briefing in Queens last month if he had considered rehiring the estimated 1,400 municipal workers who lost their livelihoods over the city’s vaccine mandates, Adams said “not at this time.”
“I want to take my hat off to those countless number of New Yorkers, municipal employees that understood what we were going through as a city, and they stood up and they did the right thing,” the mayor said. “At this time we’re not entertaining it [rehiring unvaccinated workers].”
The group of councilmembers are also calling on private businesses to rehire employees who were fired for failing to get vaccinated.
“We want our people to get back to the work place, whether that be in the private sector or public,” Borelli said.
Employees in state government or New York State employees in agencies controlled by the governor were not mandated to get vaccinated– they have a weekly testing option if they’ve chosen to not get vaccinated.
POLICE BENEVOLENT ASSOCIATION SAYS POLICE ARE TREATED AS SECOND-CLASS
Police Benevolent association President Pat Lynch issued a statement saying that cops who were on the frontlines during the early days of the pandemic don’t deserve to be treated as second-class citizens.
“We have been suing the city for months over its arbitrary and capricious vaccine mandate — this is exactly what we are talking about. If the mandate isn’t necessary for famous people, then it’s not necessary for the cops who are protecting our city in the middle of a crime crisis,” Lynch, who heads the city’s largest cop union, said.
“While celebrities were in lockdown, New York City police officers were on the street throughout the pandemic, working without adequate PPE and in many cases contracting and recovering from COVID themselves.”
Harry Nespoli — the president of Local 851, the Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association and chair of the Municipal Labor Committee — also expressed disapproval of Adams’ decision, and said he hoped for a re-entry program so workers can get their jobs back.
“When New York City shut down, many workers were mandated to come in every day without vaccines to keep the city running. These workers often got sick, and when they got better, came right back to work,” he said.
“There can’t be one system for the elite and another for the essential workers of our city. We stand ready to work out the details with the mayor, as we have been throughout this process.”