NYC’s mayor promises consequences for firefighters if they skip work to protest the vaccination mandate after 2,300 called sick

The comment came after hundreds of firefighters reported sick Monday when the vaccine mandate went into effect, bringing the total number of sick leavers in the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) to 2,300, Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro said at a news conference.

Normally, 800-1,000 firefighters report sick on any given day, FDNY spokesman Jim Long told CNN.

Members of fire and police departments and other city workers had until Friday at. 17:00 to show proof that they have received at least one vaccine dose or have been put on unpaid leave. The same mandate was already in place for the city’s health and education workers.

“The people who are sick and really not sick – the people who fake it – are doing a huge disservice to the people of this city and their other members of the service,” de Blasio said in an interview with Spectrum NY1, adding: “We want to make sure there are consequences for that.”

The FDNY-Firefighters Association, which is against the mandate, suggested firefighters could take sick leave due to reactions to receiving the vaccine over the weekend.

But the mayor said the city was investigating whether the firefighters’ union had coordinated any “sick leave”.

“If the union coordinates – in any way – a job action, it’s a violation of Taylor’s law,” de Blasio said, referring to a law in the state of New York banning public employees from striking.

The mayor said the city was willing to “go to court right away” over any alleged violation of Taylor’s law.

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“There is a certain point where responsible, decent people who say they believe in American values ​​have to acknowledge that there has been a fair process, democracy has happened,” de Blasio said of mandates. “The people spoke.”

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

“There are a lot of members of the fire department – there is a lot of redundancy,” he said, adding that scheduled training and maintenance was canceled Monday to maximize the number of firefighters on duty. “The response time has been very strong.”

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

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

“When members come to their senses and stop using medical leave unlawfully, they can help not only the citizens of the city, but also their brothers and sisters who staff these units,” Nigro added.

Union is ‘not anti-vaccine’, says the leader

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 20th. Emergency Management Services employees at FDNY have a vaccination rate of 88%, up from 61%.

Chairman of the FDNY Firefighters Association, Andrew Ansbro, said Monday morning that he did not know how many firefighters would not be allowed to work due to still being unvaccinated, and stated that FDNY does not share these numbers with them.

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“I do not have access to figures on who has become ill, but I know that hundreds of firefighters have received their Covid vaccination within the last few days. No one should be expected to work less than 100%. Everyone knows the reasons for the mild flu-like symptoms on a regular basis so that these members do not come to work with these symptoms, “said Ansbro.

He said the vaccine mandate “causes an exodus” of firefighters from the department and that the remaining firefighters “will have to work to the breaking point” to compensate for the staff shortage. Ansbro maintained that the union “is not anti-vaccine, we are anti-mandate.”

FDNY-Fire Officers Association president Jim McCarthy said Monday morning that “all we ask is extra time” regarding the city mandate so their members can have more time to decide whether to get the vaccine to file any religious or medical exceptions, or potentially decide to retire.

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

CNN’s Artemis Moshtaghian, Christina Maxouris and Ralph Ellis contributed to this report.


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