NYC lays off more than 1,000 workers over vaccine mandate

through By MICHELLE L. PRICE

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City has fired more than a thousand workers who failed to comply with the city’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate, the mayor’s office announced Monday.

The 1,430 workers who lost their jobs represent less than 1% of the city’s 370,000 employees and are being laid off far fewer than expected before Friday’s deadline to get vaccinated.

The city sent notices in late January to up to 4,000 workers, saying they had to prove they had received at least two doses of the vaccine or they would lose their jobs. Three-quarters of these workers had already been on unpaid leave for months, having missed an earlier deadline to get vaccinated in order to stay on the job.

Mayor Eric Adams’ office said hundreds of workers produced proof of their vaccines or got vaccinated after being told they would be fired.

“City workers have served on the front lines during the pandemic, and by getting vaccinated, they are once again showing how they are prepared to do what it takes to protect themselves and all New Yorkers. “Adams said in a statement. “Our goal was always to vaccinate, not eliminate, and city workers stepped up and achieved their assigned goal.

Of the 1,430 laid off workers, about 64 percent worked for the city’s education department. The United Federation of Teachers, the union for public school teachers, said last week that around 700 of its members had been told they would be made redundant. The union joined others in filing a lawsuit to block the layoffs, but a judge ruled in favor of the city on Thursday.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday dismissed an appeal by a group of Department of Education employees.

New York City has imposed some of the most sweeping vaccination mandates in the nation, requiring nearly all city workers to be vaccinated and forcing private employers to ensure their workers are also vaccinated. Patrons of restaurants, gyms and entertainment venues must also show proof of vaccination to enter.

The United Federation of Teachers had reached an agreement with the city to allow its members to choose to remain on unpaid leave until September 5. But about 700 members chose not to extend their leave or provide proof of vaccination. The union argued the workers deserved due process that involved a hearing before they were fired.

The United Federation of Teachers did not immediately comment Monday on the numbers released by the city.

Last week, New York City averaged about 1,700 new cases of the virus per day, according to state statistics. That’s down from nearly 41,000 cases per day at the height of the omicron wave in early January, but still about 56% higher than when the vaccination mandate was announced for city workers in October.

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