Correction officers union sues NYC over COVID vaccine mandate

Local News

NEW YORK — The union representing correction officers sued New York City on Wednesday over the mandate requiring vaccination against COVID.

Workers had until Nov. 30 to meet the deadline to get vaccinated. As of Nov. 29, the city’s Department of Correction reported 77% of its uniformed staff had gotten at least one vaccine dose and that number rose to 83% by Dec. 3. Officials expected they would need to suspend hundreds of correction officers, so Mayor Bill de Blasio issued an emergency executive order authorizing a switch to 12-hour shifts from the normal 8-hour ones.

COBA President Benny Boscio accused de Blasio of treating correction officers “like expendable slave labor.”

“Our lawsuit filed today in Manhattan State Supreme Court seeks to protect our rights as essential workers by asking the Judge to stop the city’s arbitrary and capricious vaccination deadline, which we never should have been subjected to in the first place, since unlike every other city agency, we’re in the middle of a severe staffing crisis because of the mayor’s negligence in not hiring Correction Officers for three years, even as the inmate population skyrocketed and violence continued to soar,” Boscio said in an emailed statement.

Most city workers had to be vaccinated by the end of October, but Mayor Bill de Blasio gave uniformed correction officers a month-long extension due to the ongoing crisis at Rikers.

“The City is grateful for every officer who has gotten vaccinated,” a spokesperson for the city’s Law Department said. “We’re confident the mandate and the 12 hour shifts will be upheld by the court.”

Boscio called for the return of the vaccine or test option.

“We will take this fight against the mandate and this punitive policy of 12-hour tours as far as we can,” Boscio said.

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