NYC COVID vaccine mandate survives another challenge ahead of school deadline

Coronavirus update for NYC

Wednesday, September 29, 2021
Vaccine mandate for NY health care workers faces legal challenges
Derick Waller reports on the vaccine mandates in New York.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- New York City's vaccine mandate survived another challenge Wednesday afternoon, this one brought by a coalition of municipal worker labor unions.

Judge Lawrence Love had first issued, then lifted, a temporary restraining order on the city instituting a vaccination mandate on school staff.

The judge on Wednesday ruled for the city and against the group of unions that make up the Municipal Labor Committee

RELATED | Vaccine mandate for NY health care workers faces legal challenges with federal court appeals panel

Nurses from Long Island who say their religious liberties are being harmed by this vaccine mandate will appeal to a three-judge panel Wednesday.

The mandate for New York City school employees is set to take effect on Friday at 5 p.m. after a court dismissed a temporary hold earlier this week.

The federal appeals court not only ruled in favor of the city, but the panel of three judges also didn't even bother to hold a court hearing.

"Vaccinations are our strongest tool in the fight against COVID-19," the city's Department of Education said in a statement. "This ruling is on the right side of the law and will protect our students and staff."

New York City announced 90% of teachers and 97% of principals have gotten at least one shot, but the number is lower for other school staff at 87%.

Mayor Bill de Blasio says he's not worried.

"These vaccination mandates work, these deadlines work, they get people to move," he said. "We talked about this last Friday into Saturday, we saw 7,000 more vaccinations in the Department of Education."

United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew, who is one of the members of the Municipal Labor Committee, said a survey of some of its members found that only a third thought their schools could open without disruption.

"The city has a lot of work before it to ensure that enough vaccinated staff will be available by the new deadline," he said.

ALSO READ | NY COVID vaccine mandate for health care workers begins; unvaccinated workers face termination

Two major showdowns loom over COVID vaccine mandates in New York -- one for health care workers and another for public school teachers and staff.

Lawyers for teachers argued earlier this week in papers submitted to the 2nd Circuit that teachers who are placed on unpaid leave because they have not complied with the order will be irreparably harmed if the appeals court failed to block the mandate.

The lawyers wrote that the city's order will "leave teachers and paraprofessionals without the resources to pay rent, utilities, and other essentials. The harm is imminent."

They said the mandate would leave thousands of New York City children in the nation's largest school district without their teachers and other school workers.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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