NYC’s largest city workers’ union wants to ‘bargain’ after the mayor announced a vaccine mandate

Bill de blasio
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Associated Press
  • NYC’s ​​largest municipal workers’ union said that Mayor Bill de Blasio must negotiate over his vaccine mandate.
  • De Blasio announced that the entire city workforce will need to get the COVID-19 vaccine or be tested weekly.
  • “If City Hall intends to test our members weekly, they must first meet us at the table to bargain,” said the executive director of District Council 37.
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New York City’s ​​largest municipal workers’ union said Monday that Mayor Bill de Blasio must “meet us at the table to bargain” after he announced that the entire city workforce will soon be mandated to get vaccinated against the coronavirus or be tested weekly.

“If City Hall intends to test our members weekly, they must first meet us at the table to bargain,” Henry Garrido, the executive director of District Council 37, which represents 150,000 workers, said in a statement.

Garrido added, “While we encourage everyone to get vaccinated and support measures to ensure our members’ health and wellbeing, weekly testing is clearly subject to mandatory bargaining. New York City is a union town and that cannot be ignored.”

De Blasio, citing the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus, announced earlier Monday that the Big Apple’s some 340,000 city workers will be required to get inoculated or be tested once a week as of Sept. 13.

“This is about our recovery. This is about what we need to do to bring back New York City. This is about keeping people safe,” de Blasio said during a press briefing.

The mayor responded to Garrido’s comments during the briefing, saying “I think when it comes to the health and safety of our workers in the middle of a global pandemic, we have the right as employers to take urgent action to protect people’s health, to protect their lives.”

The city’s labor relations commissioner, Renee Campion, explained, “Under the New York City collective bargaining law, we do have to negotiate the safety and impact with the unions of these policies, so we will be doing that.”

However, Campion said, the COVID-19 vaccine or test mandate “is a requirement of the employees and we do have the right to do that.”

The United Federation of Teachers union said it supported the new city requirement.

“Vaccination and testing have helped keep schools among the safest places in the city,” a UFT spokesperson said. “This approach puts the emphasis on vaccination but still allows for personal choice and provides additional safeguards through regular testing. There are still many things to do before we are prepared to safely open our schools in September.”

Representatives for the city’s fire and police unions did not immediately comment when reached by Insider.