NYC Teachers Union Fights For Medical And Religious Exemptions To COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

The New York Metropolis academics union has formally requested the state to intervene towards Mayor Invoice de Blasio’s vaccine mandate for all metropolis Division of Schooling staff, calling it “draconian” and a violation of due course of with lower than two weeks to go till the primary day of public college September thirteenth.

The union mentioned town will not be cooperating in carving out medical and spiritual exemptions to the vaccination mandate, which works into impact September twenty seventh for 148,000 DOE staff. That features academics, directors, cafeteria staff and custodians who should present proof of not less than one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by the efficient date.

The vaccine mandate “eviscerates the due course of and collective bargaining rights of educators who might lose their livelihoods, well being advantages and pensions, and disregards those that for whom vaccination is medically contraindicated or violates a sincerely-held spiritual perception of staff,” the union mentioned in a submitting with the state Public Employment Relations Board Wednesday. They added that in current bargaining periods town has proven it “has no intention of budging from its rigid stance or together with the UFT in any significant bargaining regarding the implementation of the Metropolis’s vaccination coverage.”

In an announcement, DOE spokesperson Danielle Filson mentioned, “The well being and security of New York Metropolis youngsters and the safety of our staff is on the core of the vaccine mandate. We are going to proceed to barter with the UFT to succeed in a profitable settlement as a result of that’s what’s greatest for our college communities.”

The PERB will mediate a session between the union and town, in keeping with Chalkbeat. If there isn’t a settlement, the UFT and town will then head to arbitration.

The vaccine mandate for the DOE staff is likely one of the strictest for a metropolis company, with no choice to supply detrimental COVID check outcomes as a substitute to proceed working inside a college constructing.

De Blasio’s mandate goes additional than the coverage that he had introduced earlier this summer time for all metropolis staff, together with academics, that requires vaccination or weekly testing. It applies to town’s conventional public colleges and consists of any constitution colleges which might be co-located with them. The mandate doesn’t apply to pre-Ok academics at community-based organizations exterior town’s college buildings, bus drivers or personal colleges. The latter can set their very own guidelines and are ruled by the state.

Town hasn’t specified what is going to occur to non-compliant DOE staff, with de Blasio saying on August twenty third that Metropolis Corridor can be working “via the penalties” and that “there’ll clearly be penalties if somebody would not comply.” De Blasio additionally mentioned town would deal with DOE staff’ medical considerations on a case-by-case foundation. “If somebody has a severe medical situation, that’s one thing we’ll work with medical doctors to handle,” he mentioned.

However the UFT mentioned negotiations with town have now stalled over whether or not staff with medical points or staff with spiritual objections to the vaccination mandate might work remotely.

“In line with metropolis negotiators, these with medical points might keep on the payroll till their sick days are used up, after which go on unpaid depart, whereas these with spiritual objections would instantly go on unpaid depart. In each instances these on depart would lose not solely their salaries but in addition their medical health insurance,” the union mentioned in an announcement Thursday.

The UFT mentioned unvaccinated DOE staff must be granted permission to work remotely, noting that there might be hundreds of scholars anticipated to enroll in a distant studying program for medically-vulnerable youngsters in addition to different administrative duties that may very well be performed exterior colleges.

“There are estimated to be not less than 5,000 college students on ‘house instruction’ this upcoming college 12 months and there are a selection of different duties – amongst them curricular improvement, tutorial and social screening in addition to college information administration and evaluation – that may be performed exterior the classroom setting,” the union’s submitting with the state mentioned.

The UFT mentioned it helps vaccination and protected COVID-19 classroom practices on the whole, noting that almost 80% of its union membership have gotten vaccinated. The union additionally agreed with metropolis officers that the DOE’s COVID-19 protocols “up to now have resulted in colleges being among the many most secure public areas in New York Metropolis,” the union submitting mentioned.

New York state banned spiritual exemptions for scholar vaccinations in 2019. Scientific trials and real-world evaluation of the vaccines thus far have proven that the one medical situation that might forestall folks from getting the shot is a extreme allergy, which has solely occurred in 2 to five folks per million who take the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines. Even in these instances, medical doctors can reverse the results with allergy meds.

The UFT submitting additionally famous that Governor Kathy Hochul has spoken about the opportunity of weekly testing in absence of a vaccination mandate for varsity districts throughout the state.

Different labor teams have filed authorized actions towards the vaccine mandate: “DC 37 — which represents college aides, lunchroom staff and different staffers together with hundreds of different metropolis staff — mentioned it will file an unfair labor practices criticism with the state,” the Related Press reported. The Municipal Labor Committee additionally voted to take authorized motion and drive town to barter particulars of implementation, together with penalties and medical exceptions.

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