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New York City reaches deal with unions on COVID-19 vaccine mandate

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered all city employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or go on unpaid leave. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
1 of 4 | New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered all city employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or go on unpaid leave. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 5 (UPI) -- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday he's now reached agreements with at least 15 unions representing municipal employees regarding the city's COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

His announcement comes one day after he reached a deal with nine unions challenging the order requiring all city workers to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 31. The mayor's office said about 9,000 municipal workers were put on leave without pay after missing the deadline Monday.

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Some 92% of workers are now fully vaccinated and about 12,000 unvaccinated workers were allowed to continue working with weekly negative tests while the city evaluates their religious or medical exemption requests.

"BREAKING NEWS: we're up to agreements with 15 unions and counting!" de Blasio tweeted Friday. "Mandates work, vaccines work and on behalf of all New Yorkers, I want to thank all the working people standing up and protecting themselves and the city they love."

Under the agreements, applications for an exemption for a religious or medical reason will be reviewed by the city. Those seeking religious exemptions must be members of a recognized religion and must have a letter from a clergy member. Their religion must have a documented opposition to vaccines.

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The new agreement gives the union members more time to apply for the exemption and ability to work while awaiting a ruling. Unvaccinated union members also will be able to keep their health benefits while on unpaid leave through June.

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