Mayor Bill de Blasio has struck a deal with four city unions — including the largest in the Big Apple and sanitation workers — to allow more time for unvaccinated workers to apply for exemptions from his COVID-19 vaccine mandate, city officials announced.
Notably absent from the deal are the unions that represent the FDNY and EMS workers, which have vehemently opposed de Blasio’s executive order requiring city employees to get the jab or go out on unpaid leave.
The deal — announced Thursday afternoon and signed by the DC 37, Teamsters Local 237, Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association Local 831 and SEIU Local 300 — allows workers to apply for a special accommodation from the vaccine for religious or medical reasons until the end-of-day Friday.
Those employees will be allowed to work with pay while those applications are pending. But if they are denied, they will be placed on unpaid leave if they choose to appeal, the city officials said.
Anyone who applied for an exemption before Tuesday is able to remain on the job with pay until their application is reviewed and any appeal is determined.
Both groups will have to be tested weekly while working.
The deal is similar to how the NYPD, whose unions actively pushed their vaccine-hesitant members to apply for an exemption before the deadline, handled the mandate.
The unions repping the FDNY members have not signed on to the deal but said at a press conference Thursday afternoon that their attorneys were reviewing the agreement.
Union heads did say they responded with a counteroffer — lift the mandate and go back to the vaccine-or-test policy that was in place before then mandate.
But they also have been telling their members to prepare to file for exemptions.
As of Thursday, 92 percent of all city workers are vaccinated.
Within the FDNY, 79 percent of firefighters and 90 percent of EMS have gotten the jab.
Commissioner Daniel Nigro said Thursday morning that between firefighters calling out sick and others placed on unpaid leave four units were out of service.
Response times for fire and EMS have held steady, despite the staffing shortage.
For sanitation workers, the deal comes as about 500 department employees remained on unpaid administrative leave for failing to comply with the mandate.
City officials said 85 percent of sanitation workers have received at least one shot.
The agreement came as a relief for New Yorkers weary of the massive piles of trash that have been accumulating on their sidewalks.
“It makes the neighborhood look bad,” said a man who would only give his name as Alonza, 64, as he sat at the corner of 51st Street and 43rd Avenue in Sunnyside Gardens.
“It makes me angry, oh yeah,” the former US Marine said. “You take a shower, you come out, sit on the bench and you smell garbage. You don’t want to come out in the morning smelling that crap.”
Down the street, building superintendent Denis Ventura said tenants have been griping over a week-old pile of garbage out front.
“If they don’t come, I just have to keep putting more out,” he said. “One tenant told me, ‘In the night I see the rats.’”
Additional reporting by Georgett Roberts, Elizabeth Rosner and Jorge Fitz-Gibbon