Staten Island, NY – A Staten Island judge backed New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate on Wednesday, ruling it is perfectly legal for the city to put its workers on unpaid leave if they refuse to get the shot.
Richmond County Supreme Court Judge Lizette Colon issued the ruling on Oct. 27 in response to the Police Benevolent Association’s (PBA) attempt to shut down the mandate before it goes into effect on Friday night, the New York Post reported.
All city employees who have not received their first dose of the vaccine by 5 p.m. on Oct. 29 will be taken off the payroll, the mayor has warned.
The city currently has approximately 160,500 workers, according to WABC.
The PBA contended the practice of regularly testing unvaccinated employees has been sufficient, but Colon disagreed, the New York Post reported.
New York Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said those who refuse vaccination will be prohibited from doing their jobs come Monday morning, the New York Post reported.
New York Police Department (NYPD) officers who aren’t vaccinated are still expected to work over the weekend, the commissioner noted.
“On Monday, when this thing starts being enforced, and if you’re not vaccinated, no pay and you won’t be able to work,” Commissioner Shea said. “I don’t think anyone wants that to happen…We need you out there. Please take advantage of the next few days and get vaccinated.”
Approximately 22 percent of NYPD officers remained unvaccinated as of Friday morning, WABC reported.
But in multiple precincts across the city, less than half of officers have gotten the jab.
“You gotta do it now,” Commissioner Shea said, according to WABC. “To help me, to help the city and keep you and your families and your partners safe from this.”
Nearly 30 percent of the New York Fire Department remained unvaccinated on Friday morning, WABC reported.
A two-day NYPD retirement fair got underway just hours before the mandate deadline.
A large number of veteran officers are expected to retire as opposed to being forced to get the vaccine, WABC reported.
PBA President Patrick Lynch said the PBA is trying to appeal Colon’s ruling at that the union will continue to fight the mandate, according to the New York Post.
“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,” Lynch declared. “Today’s ruling sets the city up for a real crisis. The haphazard rollout of this mandate has created chaos in the NYPD.”
De Blasio announced the mandate on Oct. 20, noting that the city had eliminated the testing option that city workforce had previously been given and would require everyone to show proof they had been vaccinated, WABC reported.
“We need to save lives, and we do it with vaccinations,” the mayor said at a press briefing.
He said employees would receive an extra $500 in their paycheck if they get their first shot at a city-run vaccination clinic between Oct. 20 and 5 p.m. on Oct. 29, WABC reported.
De Blasio said that city employees who did not comply with the order to get at least their first shot before the deadline would be put on unpaid administrative leave.
He said their future employment with the city would depend on what happened in negotiations with labor unions, WABC reported.
Despite pushback on vaccinate mandates by law enforcement officers nationwide, the mayor said it was the responsibility of public employees to get vaccinated to protect citizens, WNBC reported.
“The vaccine is what has allowed us to fight back against COVID and save tens of thousands of lives. And there’s still a lot of city employees who are not vaccinated,” de Blasio said. “I want to protect them. I want to protect their families. I want to protect all the people that they come in contact within this city.”
“Law enforcement has borne the brunt of COVID,” the mayor continued. “In this nation in the last two years, 460 law enforcement officers have been lost to COVID. We’ve got to protect them.”
“This vaccine mandate allows us to do that,” he added.