Police Union Prepares for Court As New York Mandates Vaccines for All City Employees

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced today that effective November 1 all city workers who have not received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine will lose their paychecks without the option for regular testing.

With this mandate, New York City emerges with one of the nation's strictest vaccination enforcement policies, paving the way for the 46,000 unvaccinated employees to receive the shot, The New York Times reports.

New York City's previous mandate on worker vaccinations applied to 160,000 of its 300,000 workers, according to the Times. Under the new mandate, police officers, firefighters and sanitation workers will all have to get the shot, and one of the city's largest police unions is not happy.

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As of now, 69 percent of the city's officers have received the shot. Here, NYPD Police officers listen as Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York President Patrick Lynch and representatives from other NYPD and law enforcement unions holds a news conference at the Icahn Stadium parking lot on June 9, 2020. Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images

"From the beginning of the de Blasio administration's haphazard vaccine rollout, we have fought to make the vaccine available to every member who chooses it, while also protecting their right to make that personal medical decision in consultation with their own doctor," Patrick Lynch, president of the New York City Police Benevolent Association, wrote in a statement. "Now that the city has moved to unilaterally impose a mandate, we will proceed with legal action to protect our members' rights."

This statement comes in contrast to the stance of the city's police commissioner, Dermot Shea who has supported an officer mandate, going so far as to say that he was "100 percent" behind a vaccine requirement for the city's officers.

As of now, the Times reports that 69 percent of the city's police force have received the shot. New York City's Department of Corrections holds the lowest rate at 50 percent, and the housing authority holds the second lowest rate at 58 percent. The rate of sanitation worker vaccinations stands at 60 percent.

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The new mandate follows one issued by Mayor Bill de Blasio earlier this year. Here, de Blasio speaks to the media during a press conference at City Hall on January 3, 2020 in New York City. Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

The stance taken by the Police Benevolent Association mirrors that of other police unions across the country. In Chicago, Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara told union members to defy the city's request for officers to report their vaccine status. Seattle Police Officers Guild President Mike Solan criticized the city's handling of the mandate and exemption process.

Despite objections from police, de Blasio remains firm in his position.

"It's a mandate now for all city agencies, all city workers. It's time for everyone to get vaccinated," de Blasio said during an interview Wednesday morning on MSNBC. "We need to reassure all New Yorkers that, if you're working with a public employee, they're vaccinated, everyone is going to be safe."

Newsweek contacted the Police Benevolent Association and the New York mayor's office for comment but did not hear back in time for publication.