UPDATED 6:56 PM PT – Wednesday, October 20, 2021
New York City firefighters are taking a stand against Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-N.Y.). The Uniformed Firefighters Association revealed it would not be enforcing vaccine mandates on any of its members.
During a press conference Wednesday, the organization made the announcement as a response to the New York citywide mandate. This comes as Mayor de Blasio has ordered all municipal employees to be vaccinated or face unpaid leave.
UFA President Andrew Ansbro, however, made clear they would not be cutting staff, stating it would put their community at risk.
“I’ve told my members that if they choose to remain unvaccinated, they must still report for duty. And if they are told that they cannot work, it will be the department and the city of New York that sends them home and it will be the department and the city of New York that has failed to protect the citizens of the city of New York,” stated Ansbro. “The blame will not be on New York City firefighters.”
Announcement with the Uniformed Firefighters Association https://t.co/dy7Xf5iTh7
— Andrew Yang🧢⬆️🇺🇸 (@AndrewYang) June 10, 2021
Ansbro suggested the measure infringes upon his members’ rights and offered an alternative to mandatory vaccinations.
“We’ll explore all avenues to protect our members. We will work with the MLC and the other unions to fight this mandate and keep this a personal choice,” he said. “We would also like to keep the testing option in place, which it seems that the city is now abandoning. It’s working and it’s an option we can all live with. But putting people out of work for making a personal health choice is something we can never accept.”
The UFA president went a step further, questioning the effectiveness of the vaccine itself. He continued to cite that vaccines only lessen symptoms, rather than stop infections completely.
UFA Vice President Robert Eustace voiced his opinion of the disrespect leveled at unvaccinated firefighters after they have continued to serve their city throughout the pandemic. The UFA said it fears it’ll be forced to close multiple fire houses if the city moves forward with its mandate.
Meanwhile, Mayor de Blasio has given unvaccinated municipal employees until Nov. 1 to get at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Additionally, employees who comply by Oct. 29 will receive an extra $500 added onto their next paycheck.