FDNY union tells members to show up for work and defy mayor’s Friday deadline

Daily Mail

The head of New York City’s firefighter union is telling members to go to work whether they’re vaccinated or not ahead of Friday’s mandate deadline, as the police union continues to fight the rule in court.

New York could face a serious shortage of firefighters, sanitation workers and cops Friday evening – the deadline for all city workers to get their first shot or get sent home without pay on Monday.

Andrew Ansbro, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association, says that his members felt ‘insulted’ by Mayor Bill de Blasio’s order, which was announced just last week, and warns that 30 to 40 percent of firehouses may have to close.

‘I have told my members that if they choose to remain unvaccinated, they must still report for duty,’ Ansbro told a news conference Wednesday.

‘If they are told they cannot work, it will be the department and city of New York that sends them home. And it will be the department and the city of New York that has failed to protect the citizens of New York.’

Mayor de Blasio responded on Thursday: ‘Their supervisors will address that as with any agency and it means, of course, they’re not getting paid at that point.’

More than a third of the fire department remains unvaccinated as of Thursday.

On Wednesday, a Staten Island judge rejected a request by the NYPD’s largest union to temporarily block the vaccine mandate. Similar legal battles are taking place in Seattle and Chicago, where mayors have instituted mandates for city workers.

A new court hearing has been scheduled for November 12. The city will have to prove the mandate is not ‘arbitrary and capricious and an abuse of discretion.’
‘We’re pleased with this ruling, and remain confident this mandate is on solid legal ground,’ said city Law Department spokesman Nicholas Paolucci after the mandate was upheld on Wednesday.
‘The city’s vaccine mandates make our workplaces safer, further public health and aid the city’s recovery.’
Judge Lizette Colon previously ruled against Mac’s Public House in their lawsuit to block the city’s bar and restaurant vaccine mandate, according to the New York Daily News.
Colon harked back to a 2019 state appellate ruling that upheld a vaccine mandate for measles, according to Bloomberg.
About 36 percent of employees at the New York City Fire Department remain unvaccinated, according to the city’s latest tally. That’s down from 40 percent on October 19.

NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said Wednesday that 75 percent of his force is vaccinated, a number that has been steadily climbing ahead of tomorrow’s deadline.

Throughout the city, 86 percent of the 300,000 municipal employees are jabbed, including teachers and health care workers who were subject to previous mandates.

New York City employees have until 5pm on Friday to receive their first vaccination and a $500 bonus.Those who refuse will be placed on leave without pay on Monday.

Thousands of New Yorkers marched across the Brooklyn Bridge on Monday in protest.

The Manhattan-bound lanes on the Brooklyn Bridge were closed between 12.30 and 3pm due to the protest, according to an NYPD report.

During a press briefing on Wednesday, Mayor de Blasio said he expects some workers to hold out until the last minute.

‘What I expect is a surge of activity, particularly on Friday,’ de Blasio said.

‘We had this pattern with the health care workers. We had this pattern with everyone who works for Department of Education, which is, by far, our biggest agency – a surge of vaccination right up on the deadline.

‘And then, some people who didn’t get vaccinated by the deadline, but recognize that they’re about to be put on unpaid leave, who would then go out and get vaccinated immediately, and then even others who get vaccinated in the days after.’

The Police Benevolent Association has said it will appeal the vaccine mandate once again on Thursday, as the mayor’s mandate is set to take effect on Friday.

The mandate will be enforced on Monday, allowing employees to report to work during the weekend.

At the Department of Sanitation – responsible for trash, recycling and clearing the streets of snow in the winter – about 33 percent of employees remained unvaccinated.

Close to 3,300 sanitation employees could be put on unpaid leave next week.

Sidewalks in Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn were teeming with overflowing piles of trash on Thursday as the city prepares to temporarily lay off unvaccinated workers.

Mayor de Blasio is confident that city agencies could weather the storm of furloughs.

‘Remember, our first responder agencies, our uniformed agencies went through so much last year where they had huge numbers of members out because of COVID and they had to keep making constant adjustments to provide the services we need to keep people safe – and they did it and they did it very well,’ de Blasio said Wednesday.

The president of the Police Benevolent Association, the NYPD’s largest union, blamed city officials for the outcome of Wednesday’s court ruling, which kept the vaccine mandate in place.

‘The PBA will continue to fight the fight and will immediately appeal this ruling, but New Yorkers should know who to blame for any shortfall in city services: Mayor Bill de Blasio, Police Commissioner Shea and the other bureaucrats who are putting politics before public health and public safety.’

‘Today’s ruling sets the city up for a real crisis. The haphazard rollout of this mandate has created chaos in the NYPD,’ the statement read.

Police Commissioner Dermot Shea has encouraged officers to receive the vaccine before the time is up.

‘We need you out there. Please take advantage of the next few days and get vaccinated,’ he said.

COVID-19, now the leading cause of death for law enforcement in the country, has taken the life of 63 officers in New York City.

Meanwhile, FDNY Firefighter Association President Andrew Ansbro has said that chaos will ensue as hundreds of firefighters who have not complied with the mandate will be forced to stop working.

‘The staffing just is not there, there’s no way to do it,’ he told FOX’s radio host Brian Kilmeade.

‘The response times are going to go through the roof. We’re just not going to be able to get to the emergencies in time.

‘Fires are going to burn longer. Heart attack victims are going to be laying on the floor longer,’ he added. ‘People in stuck elevators are going to be stuck there for hours if not days.’

Ansbro said that 30 to 40 percent of the firehouses in the city will have to close.

‘The mayor is going to be faced with either sending us home or sticking to his guns. And his guns are going to get New York City residents killed,’ he said.

On Thursday, Mayor de Blasio pushed back on claims that vital city agencies will face staffing shortages.

He said people will continue to get vaccinated as the prospect of losing their paycheck nears, and that agency heads will use mandatory overtime, schedule changes and private contractors to deal with any shortages.

‘They will be safe,’ he said of New Yorkers. ‘This has been something under discussion not just for weeks, for months.

‘My job is to keep people safe. My employees and 8.8 million people. Until we defeat COVID, people are not safe. If we don’t defeat COVID, people will die.’

Across Staten Island and Brooklyn, mountains of trash have already started to pile up as sanitation workers protest the mandate.

According to the New York Post, they are purposely taking part in a slowdown so collections are not finished.

The president of sanitation workers union Teamsters Local 831, Harry Nespoli, sided with the passive protests.

‘Look, you’re going to have some spots in the city that they feel very strongly about this,’ he told the Post.

‘I’ll tell you straight out, I disagree with the mandate because of one reason. We have a program in place right now in the department, which is, you get the vaccination or you get tested once a week.’

Nespoli added that vaccination amongst workers was already going up on a regular basis.

‘In the last five days, we had 300 more that got vaccinated,’ he said.

Mayor de Blasio addressed the trash pick-up protests on Thursday, calling them ‘unacceptable.’

‘Anyone who is not doing their job, you’re harming your fellow sanitation workers and you’re harming your neighbor and you’re harming the people of NYC and it’s time to stop,’ he said.

He also added that employees will be given time to comply with the mandate.

‘Our goal is not to fire people,’ he said Thursday.

In neighborhoods like Brooklyn’s Bay Ridge and Staten Island’s Dongan Hills, Saturday’s and Wednesday’s pick-ups did not take place.

Sanitation has also reported piles of garbage in Dyker Heights, Fort Hamilton, Bath Beach, Gravesend, Bensonhurst, and Flatbush, among other neighborhoods.

City workers are suing to stop mandates from taking place across the country.

In Chicago, a federal judge is expected to rule Friday on a lawsuit from 130 employees, mostly firefighters, challenging Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s vaccine mandate for city workers, according to WLS.

That mandate went into effect on October 15 and, unlike New York’s, it includes a twice-weekly test-out option at employees’ expense.

On October 15, US District Court Judge Barbara Rothstein ruled against Seattle firefighters and other Washington state workers who claimed Gov. Jay Inslee’s vaccine mandate would result in the ‘disproportionate dismissal of people of color from civil service and health care,’ according to KIRO.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan instituted similar rules for employees of her city at the same time that Gov. Inslee did.

Both mandates went into effect on October 18.


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