NEW YORK — District Council 37 had attempted to compromise with the city over its return-to-work and COVID-19 vaccine mandates before it took legal action over the vaccine order, the union’s executive director said Thursday evening.
Earlier this week, a judge temporarily blocked implementation of the city’s vaccine requirement for Department of Education (DOE) staff members after DC37, one of the city’s largest municipal unions, sued. Unlike other municipal workers, DOE employees cannot test out of the mandate.
Speaking with NY1 political anchor Errol Louis on “Inside City Hall” on Thursday night, Garrido characterized City Hall’s messaging as unpredictable, which led the union to escalate legal actions against the city.
“I think the problem we had was the level of inconsistency from agency to agency, where some agencies were allowed, for instance, reasonable accommodations and others were not,” Garrido said. “Some agencies were denying outright the right to women who are pregnant, and other individuals who were applying for religious exemptions, they were outright denying them while others were accommodating them for it.”
Garrido contends that type of inconsistency could lead to inequities amongst city workers.
The union boss says he wants all his members to get the vaccine, but denied that this kind of back and forth between the city and District Council 37 could send mixed messages to those still hesitant to get the shot. Instead, he argued his union needs to protect workers who cannot receive a vaccine due to individual medical conditions.
“I have members who have letters from the CDC explicitly telling them not to get vaccinated. So should they lose their job for something that they are allergic to in the vaccine, or that they do no want in terms of harming their bodies?” Garrido said. “That is something we consider to be unfair.”
Garrido also said his union was concerned about the safety of buildings that had been not been occupied for over a year-and-a-half, and the return of all 80,000 city workers at once. Instead, DC37 preferred a gradual, phased in approach.
Did you know you can now watch, read and stay informed with NY1 wherever and whenever you want? Get the new Spectrum News app here.
Watch the full interview above.
Looking for an easy way to learn about the issues affecting New York City?