Mayor Bill de Blasio insisted Thursday that municipal services will “move forward” unabated after the vaccine mandate for nearly all city workers takes effect — even as sanitation workers engage in a slowdown of trash pickup and the FDNY prepares to shutter firehouses.
During a virtual press briefing, Hizzoner stood by his order that city workers get at least one jab or else be placed on unpaid leave starting Monday, predicting more holdouts would cave in once they experience the “profound” consequences of missing paychecks.
“No, there’s no discussion of changing the deadline,” de Blasio said. “The bottom line is, can we do the things we need to do first of all to keep this city safe for the long run? Well, that means get people vaccinated. Yes, we can do that, yes we have a plan to do that.
“Then can we keep all the other services moving in a way that protects New Yorkers? Yes. The answer is yes, yes, yes there’s confidence we can make it work and we’re moving forward.”
City workers who refuse to begin their vaccine series will be terminated at some unspecified point in the future, according to the mayor, who said, “Our goal is not to fire people.”
To fill in service gaps left by unvaccinated sanitation workers, de Blasio announced the Department of Sanitation would be nixing days off, adding Sunday tours and lengthening eight-hour shifts by four hours.
“To create additional capacity, the Sanitation Department has canceled days off for sanitation workers, as needed we’ll be requiring Sunday shifts and is moving to a 12-hour schedule for its workers,” he said, adding his administration is “very confident of the contingency plans.”
Asked about disgruntled sanitation workers opting to not pick up garbage on Staten Island and in pockets of Brooklyn, de Blasio called the slowdown “unacceptable.”
“We’re definitely seeing that problem in some parts of the city, and it’s unacceptable. I just want to make it really, really clear it’s unacceptable,” he said. “People may not agree with the decision, but this decision is about the health and safety of all New Yorkers.”
“We see a problem in certain parts of the city. I’m assuming it is related to people expressing their views on this new mandate, and I’m saying again that’s not fair to your fellow workers, that’s not fair to your neighbors,” he added. “There’s one way to do things, and that’s to abide by the law. If you’re a city worker, you have to abide by the law. … So the bottom line is, the Sanitation Department has been very clear that it’s not acceptable, that there will be consequences.”
As of Thursday morning, 67 percent of sanitation workers, 74 percent of the NYPD and 68 percent of the FDNY have been vaccinated, according to data provided by the mayor’s office.
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea on Wednesday night, however, said 75 percent of the NYPD — including civilian members and police officers — had gotten the jab.
“We are very confident those numbers are going to go up a lot,” said de Blasio.
Members of the municipal workforce will be taken off the payroll on Monday if they have not received a shot. Workers have until 5 p.m. Friday to collect a $500 incentive for getting the jab.
Due to ongoing staffing shortages at problem-plagued city jails, Department of Correction employees are subject to a Dec. 1 vaccine deadline.