NEW YORK — Crowds of New York City workers spent their last Saturday before they’re expected to return to the office demanding a work from home extension.
Public workers across the five boroughs united Saturday outside City Hall because they say they’re scared to return to work.
“We fear for ourselves, our communities, our loved ones,” said one worker demonstrating.
The rally came just two days before tens of thousands of municipal workers are scheduled to report to their offices for the first time since the city shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The lack of transparency about why the return to work is scheduled the way it is makes us think that evidence doesn’t exist,” said Neil Rilly, who works in Hazards Preservation and Development.
He says a May 3 return date is too soon, the city’s still not safe and the work spaces aren’t equipped to handle the ongoing pandemic.
“I would feel most comfortable knowing everyone had been vaccinated and sharing a space with people vaccinated and also where everyone is going to eat and drink during a course of the day,” added Rilly.
Over 80,000 municipal workers will return at a time when Mayor Bill de Blasio said 180,000 city employees have been vaccinated and the city is beginning to seek normalcy.
The city has spent over $200 million to prepare the office buildings for the returns and the mayor said strict physical distancing and mask mandates will remain in effect.
“We do not find that people are more productive at home. We find that people are more productive in the workplace and we are public servants. We are here to help people to get through this crisis and to help the city recover,” said de Blasio.
This rally demanded the city put workers’ safety first by allowing city employees to participate in a reopening plan and establishing a permanent telework policy. The workers also called for the pause to remain in effect until at least September and they hope the mayor will reconsider.