NEW YORK (PIX11) — New York City announced agreements on Thursday between four of its labor unions regarding the COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Unions representing roughly 75,000 employees signed the agreement on the mandate, which includes exemption requests and leave policies.
“Vaccinations are critical to our recovery and our city workforce is leading the way,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Ninety-two percent of city employees have stepped up and gotten vaccinated, and this agreement ensures a fair process for those seeking exemptions.”
Under the agreement, as at the Department of Education (DOE), employees who have applied for exemption from the vaccine mandate for medical or religious reasons will receive an initial decision from the agency. Then, they’ll have the option to appeal that decision to an arbitrator, who will decide the exemption based on the same criteria used at DOE. The unions reportedly signed on to the agreement—DC 37, Teamsters Local 237, Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association Local 831, and SEIU Local 300—don’t represent city employees at DOE or NYC Health + Hospitals.
Employees also have the option to appeal to an internal city panel that would decide the exemption. Union members who signed the agreement and filed an exemption request by November 2 will remain on payroll with weekly testing pending determination and appeal.
Employees who filed an exemption request between November 3 and November 5 will remain on payroll with weekly testing, pending initial agency determination. However, they will go on leave without pay (LWOP) if appealing that determination.
LWOP employees can voluntarily separate from service and maintain health insurance through June 30. They can also extend leave until June 30, but must agree to separate voluntarily with waiver of right to challenge if not vaccinated by then. An employee who gets vaccinated while on leave can return to work at the same work location, according to City Hall.