New York City police and firefighter unions prepare to fight vaccine mandate

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NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- New York City's municipal unions are gearing up for a fight over Mayor Bill de Blasio's new vaccine mandate, which requires proof of at least one shot by October 29.

The city says it will begin impact bargaining with affected unions immediately, but several have already vowed to battle it out in court.

"From the beginning of the de Blasio administration's haphazard vaccine rollout, we have fought to make the vaccine available to every member who chooses it, while also protecting their right to make that personal medical decision in consultation with their own doctor," PBA President Pat Lynch said. "Now that the city has moved to unilaterally impose a mandate, we will proceed with legal action to protect our members' rights."

And the FDNY union is threatening to shut down fire houses.

"It's very hard to staff the fire houses as it is," said union president Andrew Ansbro. "We will definitely be closing fire houses if the amount of people who have told me they're not going to get vaccinated get sent home. There's going to be a serious operational problem, and that's why I fear for New York City residents."

The correction officers union president, Benny Boscio Jr., also spoke out against the mandate.

"Throughout the pandemic, COBA fought vigorously to provide our members with PPE, free COVID-19 testing and access to the vaccines if our members wished to be vaccinated," he said.

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The latest statistics show why Mayor Bill de Blasio says he is resorting to a vaccine mandate.

Police, fire and sanitation workers all have lower vaccination rates than the New Yorkers they serve.

De Blasio is sweetening the pot with a $500 bonus to city workers who get their first shots at a city-run site by October 29.

He says the mandate for teachers and healthcare workers came first because of their daily interactions with the public - and he points to that mandate's success.

"We had many, many people with real, valid concerns about schools, about hospitals," the mayor said. "In both cases, we saw overwhelming compliance. Now you could say, well, this is a different workforce. Yeah. But in the end, people go to work out of a combination of believing in what they're doing, and also wanting to get paid."



This all comes as major news is expected today from a CDC advisory panel, which is scheduled to vote on booster shots for the Johnson and Johnson and Moderna vaccines.

That's after the FDA official authorized booster shots on Wednesday, even allowing people to mix and match vaccines.

The final authorization on boosters will come from the CDC director. That could happen tomorrow, paving the way for millions of Americans to get boosters by this weekend.

That includes people over the age of 65 and those with underlying health issues.

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