LOWER MANHATTAN (WABC) -- With 48 hours to go before the vaccine mandate deadline for all NYC municipal workers, the union leaders representing New York's Bravest sent a clear message.
They oppose the mayor's order and they will express that opposition with a major rally outside Gracie Mansion on Thursday.
"11 a.m. in front of Gracie Mansion, we've heard from a lot of other municipal unions that they are going to be attending in support of us, as well as many elected officials from around New York State and the city," said Jim McCarthy with the FDNY Fire Officers Association.
On Wednesday morning, Mayor Bill de Blasio said he anticipated a surge of vaccinations in the next two days.
He said that's exactly what happened with city health care workers and Department of Education employees when they faced a late September vaccination deadline.
And he reiterated what's at stake for those who still haven't rolled up their sleeve.
"Look, I'd like everyone who is not yet vaccinated to get vaccinated by the end of Friday," De Blasio said. "If they don't, they're going off payroll."
The mayor remains confident that public safety will not be jeopardized if thousands of city police officers and firefighters are suddenly absent from precincts and firehouses.
The police commissioner acknowledged that's a very real possibility.
The NYPD vaccination rate currently stands at 75%, with close to 750 vaccinations given out Wednesday.
"Thank you for all the work Medical Division, because of your efforts the NYPD is now 75% vaccinated," Commissioner Dermot Shea said.
He says the department will be sending notifications again to people that don't have the vaccine yet.
A state Supreme Court judge denied the the Police Benevolent Association's request for a temporary restraining order to halt the implementation of the vaccine mandate for police officers while the PBA's lawsuit moves forward.
"Today's ruling sets the city up for a real crisis. The haphazard rollout of this mandate has created chaos in the NYPD. City Hall has given no reason that a vaccine mandate with a weekly testing option is no longer enough to protect police officers and the public, especially while the number of COVID-19 cases continues to fall," said PBA President Patrick J. Lynch. "Instead, police officers are being told to make a possibly life-changing decision in a matter of days to meet a completely arbitrary deadline, while the NYPD's leadership spins its wheels and offers no guidance. This not only violates police officers' rights - it will inevitably result in fewer cops available to protect our city. The PBA will continue to fight the fight and will immediately appeal this ruling, 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."
Meanwhile the FDNY says their vaccination rate is now 68%.
"There is going to be a catastrophic manpower shortage if 3,500 firefighters that are currently unvaccinated are told to not to go to work," said Andrew Ansbro with FDNY Firefighters Association.
Unvaccinated firefighters will be placed on leave for at least 30 days will not have medical or union benefits taken away from them. Ansbro said that was "a relief to a lot of our members who are still struggling with making this decision"
McCarthy said setting the Friday afternoon deadline gave their members just nine days to determine if they were going to get vaccinated, was "not enough time to make a retirement decision if you are going to retire from this job."
"These are the same people who responded to these towers," McCarthy said outside the World Trade Center site. "These are the same people that responded during sandy. They were here during COVID, before there were masks, before there was vaccination, before there was testing."
"Nine days to make a decision on what is going to affect the rest of their life," he said.
Ansbro said 10 pregnant firefighters are "asking about their medical exemptions. Their medical exemptions have to be dated today."
Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro released the following statement:
"The Department must manage the unfortunate fact that a portion of our workforce has refused to comply with a vaccine mandate for all city employees. We will use all means at our disposal, including mandatory overtime, mutual aid from other EMS providers, and significant changes to the schedules of our members. We will ensure the continuity of operations and safety of all those we have sworn oaths to serve."
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