Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday blasted city union leaders as “downright unpatriotic” for opposing his COVID-19 vaccine mandate — and threatened “consequences” for FDNY firefighters who took part in an alleged sickout over it.
During an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” the day after the deadline for most city employees to get the jab or face suspension without pay, Hizzoner knocked the unspecified union bosses for “doing exactly the wrong thing.”
“There are some union leaders who have stepped up in recent days and said, ‘OK, guys, the law is the law, this went to court, it was decided it’s time to get vaccinated,’ ” the mayor said. “Some union leaders have done the right thing. I want to give them credit.
“But several unions have been, in my view, downright unpatriotic the way they’ve handled this, because they have put their own internal politics ahead of the needs of the people.”
The mayor’s comments come a day after about 2,300 firefighters called out sick, more than double the usual 1,000, leaving 18 fire and ladder companies “temporarily out of service” and many more undermanned.
“There [are] a few very, in my view, not only angry but wrongheaded folks spreading lies, spreading this information and are endangering, actually, their colleagues,” de Blasio said of mandate foes. “They’re endangering their fellow New Yorkers.”
De Blasio said Tuesday that 92 percent of the city’s workforce had gotten at least one jab. Those who hadn’t by Monday included 9,000 workers under deadline to do so.
The FDNY has an overall vaccination rate of 82 percent — with 78 percent of firefighters, 89 percent of EMS and 91 percent of its civilian employees having gotten at least one shot, according to data Tuesday.
De Blasio accused the firefighters who have called out “sick” of leaving their colleagues “in the lurch and creating a danger for all New Yorkers.”
“That is unconscionable, and I assure you, they’re going to experience some consequences for what they’ve done,” he said.
At a separate press conference Tuesday morning, Uniformed Firefighters Association president Andrew Ansbro denied smoke-eaters were staging a sickout over the mandate.
“No one on this board would condone anyone using medical leave fraudulently,” Ansbro said. “We are very worried about a tragedy happening in New York City. We want everyone to know it’s not us creating this.”
Uniformed Fire Officers Association president Jim McCarthy added, “This assertion that people are faking is incorrect. … Doctors examine people.”
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said on NY1 on Tuesday morning that the NYPD isn’t having the same issues as the FDNY.
About 5 percent of the department — both uniformed and civilian — called out sick Monday, which he called “negligible.” The normal rate is between 2 and 3 percent.
Eighty-five percent of NYPD members had been vaccinated by Monday night, he said.
Eighty-nine uniformed officers who still haven’t gotten the jab have been sent home without pay — accounting for around 0.25 percent of the NYPD’s total workforce.
“There’s no real impact at all on public safety here,” the top cop said.
Exemption requests for health or religious reasons are up to 6,000 for the NYPD, Shea said.
Meanwhile, the mayor continued to defend his mandate Tuesday, saying, “Sometimes, you’ve got to use a muscular approach to help make sure things go right.
“People respond to deadlines,” he said on “Morning Joe.”
“People respond to a firm decision. I guarantee you people don’t like to lose their paycheck,” Hizzoner said. “And [if] you say, ‘Get vaccinated or no paycheck,’ that’ll get some people moving quickly. And the proof is in the pudding. It happened with lightning speed in this city, and now it’s made us safer.”
Additional reporting by Elizabeth Rosner