The head of New York City's firefighter union is telling members to go to work whether they're vaccinated or not ahead of Friday's vaccine mandate deadline, as the police union continues to fight the rule in court.
New York could face a serious shortage of firefighters, sanitation workers and cops Friday evening - the deadline for all city workers to get their first shot or get sent home without pay on Monday.
Andrew Ansbro, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association, says that his members felt 'insulted' by Mayor Bill de Blasio's order, which was announced just last week.
'I have told my members that if they choose to remain unvaccinated, they must still report for duty,' Ansbro told a news conference Wednesday.
'If they are told they cannot work, it will be the department and 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 New York.'
Close to a third of the fire department remains unvaccinated.
On Wednesday, a Staten Island judge rejected a request by the NYPD's largest union to temporarily block the mandate from taking place. Similar court fights are taking place in Seattle and Chicago, where mayors have also instituted vaccine mandates for city workers.
NYC firefighters' union President Andrew Ansbro, above on Wednesday, is encouraging members to show up to work in defiance of Mayor Bill de Blasio's vaccine mandate
City employees have until 5pm on Friday to receive their first vaccination - and will be given a $500 bonus following Mayor Bill de Blasio's mandate. Above, de Blasio on August 3
'The response times are going to go through the roof. We're just not going to be able to get to the emergencies in time,' Ansbro, center, has said
A new hearing has been scheduled for November 12, in which the government will have to prove the mandate is not 'arbitrary and capricious and an abuse of discretion.'
'We’re pleased with this ruling, and remain confident this mandate is on solid legal ground,' said city Law Department spokesman Nicholas Paolucci after the mandate was upheld on Wednesday.
'The city’s vaccine mandates make our workplaces safer, further public health and aid the city’s recovery.'
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said Wednesday that 75 percent of his force is vaccinated, a number that has been steadily climbing ahead of tomorrow's deadline.
The NYPD, NYFD and the city sanitation department have warned New Yorkers to brace for slow emergency response times, nearly 40 percent of the city's firehouses having to close down, and mountains of garbage piling up on sidewalks
Municipal workers of the city march across the Brooklyn Bridge against vaccination mandates in New York on October 25
New York City employees have until 5pm on Friday to receive their first vaccination and a $500 bonus.
Those who refuse will be placed on leave without pay on Monday.
During a press briefing on Wednesday, Mayor de Blasio said he expects some to hold out until the last minute.
'What I expect is a surge of activity, particularly on Friday,' de Blasio said.
'We had this pattern with the health care workers. We had this pattern with everyone who works for Department of Education, which is, by far, our biggest agency – a surge of vaccination right up on the deadline.
'And then, some people who didn't get vaccinated by the deadline, but recognize that they're about to be put on unpaid leave, who would then go out and get vaccinated immediately, and then even others who get vaccinated in the days after.'
Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn was teeming with overflowing piles of trash on Thursday
About 37 percent of city sanitation employees remained unvaccinated as of last week
About 3,700 sanitation workers could be put on unpaid leave Monday if they don't get vaccinated by 5pm Friday, Mayor de Blasio's vaccine mandate deadline for city workers
The Police Benevolent Association has said it will appeal the vaccine mandate once again on Thursday, as the mayor's mandate is set to take effect on Friday.
The mandate will be enforced on Monday, allowing employees to report to work during the weekend.
At the Department of Sanitation - responsible for trash, recycling and clearing the streets of snow in the winter - about 37 percent of employees remained unvaccinated as of last week, according to WPIX.
Close to 3,700 sanitation employees could be put on unpaid leave on Monday.
On Thursday, sidewalks in Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn were teeming with overflowing piles of trash as the city prepares to temporarily lay off unvaccinated workers.
Mayor de Blasio expressed confidence that city agencies could weather the storm of furloughs on Wednesday.
'Remember, our first responder agencies, our uniformed agencies went through so much last year where they had huge numbers of members out because of COVID and they had to keep making constant adjustments to provide the services we need to keep people safe - and they did it and they did it very well,' de Blasio said.
The president of the Police Benevolent Association blamed city officials for the outcome of Wednesday's court ruling, which kept the vaccine mandate in place.
'The PBA will continue to fight the fight and will immediately appeal this ruling, but New Yorkers should know who to blame for any shortfall in city services: Mayor Bill de Blasio, Police Commissioner Shea and the other bureaucrats who are putting politics before public health and public safety.'
'Today's ruling sets the city up for a real crisis. The haphazard rollout of this mandate has created chaos in the NYPD,' the statement read.
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea encouraged officers to receive the vaccine before the time is up
'We need you out there. Please take advantage of the next few days and get vaccinated,' Shea told officers
Across Staten Island and Brooklyn, mountains of trash have already started to pile up as sanitation workers protest the mandate
In neighborhoods like Brooklyn's Bay Ridge and Staten Island's Dongan Hills, Saturday's and Wednesday's pick-ups did not take place
Sixty-six percent of the population in the US is vaccinated against COVID-19
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea has encouraged officers to receive the vaccine before the time is up.
'We need you out there. Please take advantage of the next few days and get vaccinated,' he said.
COVID-19, now the leading cause of death for law enforcement in the country, has taken the life of 63 officers in New York City.
Meanwhile, FDNY Firefighter Association President Andrew Ansbro has said that chaos will ensue as hundreds of firefighters who have not complied with the mandate will be forced to stop working.
'The staffing just is not there, there's no way to do it,' he told FOX's radio host Brian Kilmeade.
'The response times are going to go through the roof. We're just not going to be able to get to the emergencies in time.
'Fires are going to burn longer. Heart attack victims are going to be laying on the floor longer,' he added. 'People in stuck elevators are going to be stuck there for hours if not days.'
Ansbro said that 30 to 40 percent of the firehouses in the city will have to close.
'The mayor is going to be faced with either sending us home or sticking to his guns. And his guns are going to get New York City residents killed,' he said.
Meanwhile, FDNY Firefighter Association President Andrew Ansbro has said that chaos will ensue as hundreds of firefighters who have not complied with the mandate will be forced to stop working
'The mayor is going to be faced with either sending us home or sticking to his guns. And his guns are going to get New York City residents killed,' Ansbro said
Mayor de Blasio imposed a mandate starting Nov. 1 that all municipal workers receive the COVID-19 vaccine or risk losing pay. It sparked a protest of thousands on Monday, above
The mandate has sparked criticism as some city employees refuse to get the vaccine against COVID-19
Across Staten Island and Brooklyn, mountains of trash have already started to pile up as sanitation workers protest the mandate.
According to the New York Post, they are purposely taking part in a slowdown so collections are not finished.
The president of sanitation workers union Teamsters Local 831, Harry Nespoli, sided with the passive protests.
'Look, you're going to have some spots in the city that they feel very strongly about this,' he told the Post.
'I'll tell you straight out, I disagree with the mandate because of one reason. We have a program in place right now in the department, which is, you get the vaccination or you get tested once a week.'
Nespoli added that vaccination amongst workers was already going up on a regular basis.
'In the last five days, we had 300 more that got vaccinated,' he said.
In neighborhoods like Brooklyn's Bay Ridge and Staten Island's Dongan Hills, Saturday's and Wednesday's pick-ups did not take place.
Sanitation has also reported piles of garbage in Dyker Heights, Fort Hamilton, Bath Beach, Gravesend, Bensonhurst, and Flatbush, among other neighborhoods.
The are currently more than 45 million cases of COVID-19 in the US. More than 700,000 have died since the pandemic started