Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Thursday agreements with four labor unions regarding the city’s vaccination mandate, including on exemption requests and leave policies. Currently, more than 92% of city workers under the mandate are vaccinated.
The unions who have signed the agreement are: DC 37, Teamsters Local 237, Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association Local 831 and SEIU Local 300, who collectively represent 75,000 employees (excluding members employed at DOE or H+H).
“Vaccinations are critical to our recovery and our city workforce is leading the way,” the mayor said. “Ninety-two percent of city employees have stepped up and gotten vaccinated, and this agreement ensures a fair process for those seeking exemptions. Thank you to these unions for working with us to keep New Yorkers safe.”
Under this agreement, as at the DOE, employees who have applied for an exemption from the vaccine mandate for medical or religious reasons will receive an initial decision from the agency, then have the option to appeal that decision to an arbitrator who will decide the exemption based upon the same criteria used at the DOE. Employees also retain the option of appealing to an internal city panel who would decide the exemption as required by applicable law. This process ensures that those with appropriately justified medical or religious reasons have multiple options for their claim to be adjudicated.
Members of unions who have signed this agreement, who filed an exemption request by Nov. 2 will remain on payroll with weekly testing pending determination of the agency and any appeal. An employee who files an exemption request between Nov. 3 and Nov. 5 will remain on payroll with weekly testing pending initial agency determination, but go on leave without pay if appealing that determination.
This agreement confirms the city’s right to place unvaccinated employees without an exemption on leave without pay with health benefits effective Nov. 1, or after denial of exemption request depending on the date exemption request was submitted.
Employees on leave without pay may choose to voluntarily separate from service and can maintain health insurance through June 30, 2022. Employees on leave without pay may also elect to extend the leave until June 30, 2022, but agree to separate voluntarily with waiver of right to challenge if not vaccinated by June 30, 2022. In addition, any employee who gets vaccinated while on leave can return to work at their same work location.
As part of this agreement, these unions have agreed to withdraw litigation filed last month which challenged the city’s right to implement the mandate.