New York, NY – The largest public employees union in town says it has reached an agreement with the de Blasio administration allowing workers who have not yet been vaccinated against Covid-19 to take an unpaid leave of absence this month to think it over.
“We have reached an agreement that gives our member options,” District Council 37, AFSCME Executive Director Henry Garrido said in a statement. “Individuals can now make choices based on what is best for them and their families and know they will have health benefits available during this critical time.”
The city’s vacation mandate introduced last month, impacting all NYPD, FDNY and DSNY employees, as well as civilian employees of the Department of Correction [DOC] and uniformed members assigned to healthcare settings, took effect Nov. 1. Other uniformed members at the DOC will be subject to the mandate effective December 1.
According to the new agreement with the de Blasio administration, District Council 37 members who have not been vaccinated can now be placed on unpaid leave and still be eligible for health benefits through November 30. Those who provide proof of vaccination during the leave time may return to their same job. Employees will be eligible to be reimbursed for unused sick leave on a one-for-one basis, up to 100 days, the union says.
Workers can still apply for a medical or religious exemption through their normal agency procedures. Employees who submit requests after November 5, will be placed on leave without pay for the duration of the process. If the worker is placed on leave without pay and their accommodation request is granted, they will be eligible for retroactive pay.
Those who choose to quit instead of complying with the vaccine mandate will remain eligible for health benefits through June 30, 2022.
The overwhelming majority of DC37 members working for the city have already been vaccinated.
Thousands of other municipal employees opposed to the city’s vaccination mandate marched across the Brooklyn Bridge in protest on October 25.