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FDNY unions are questioning New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ decision to lift vaccine mandates for celebrities and athletes while unvaccinated first responders in the city continue to lose their jobs because of their COVID-19 vaccine status.
FDNY-Firefighters Association President Andrew Ansbro and FDNY-Fire Officers Association President Lt. James McCarthy held a joint press conference on Saturday and called for Adams to rescind vaccine mandates for firefighters in the city and “sit down with the unions” for a discussion.
“We’re here to say that we support the revocation of the vaccine mandate that the mayor announced on Thursday,” McCarthy said. “We think that it should be extended, as well. We support the revocation of the mandate for the athletes and performers that work in New York City. We think that the people that work for New York City should also have the mandate relocated for them.”
McCarthy, noting how “essential” firefighters are to the Empire State’s economic recovery, touted the work New York firefighters were tasked with throughout the pandemic.
“We were here responding to COVID emergencies without masks, without testing, without vaccines,” McCarthy said. “We were exposed, we eventually exposed our families, many of our members came down with COVID. But we still made the city safe for everybody, and we want to be treated now like these new guests are.”
Without first responders, many of whom have been forced out of their jobs due to their unwillingness to get vaccinated, the events responsible for revenue in the city would not be taking place, McCarthy said.
“If we’re not here – the police, the fire – making the city safer, no one can come in and attend these games and eat, attend theater productions,” McCarthy said, adding that the firefighters are asking to be treated “at least as well” as the athletes and celebrities performing in the city.
Speaking on behalf of firefighters who were forced to get vaccinated, and even those who have yet to get vaccinated in hopes that a “reasonable accommodation” is met, Ansbro said the “science has changed” since the mandate was imposed and insisted it should be done away with.
“If you’re going to remove the vaccine mandate for certain people in the city, you need to remove it for everybody in the city,” Ansbro said. “If you’re gonna follow the science, science is gonna tell you there isn’t any danger right now and putting hundreds of firefighters, police officers, and other emergency workers out of work is not in the best interest of the city. It’s not safe.”
Ansbro urged Adams to “remember where he came from” as he makes mayoral decisions.
“He came from working as a transit cop below that stadium in Penn Station” looking after New Yorkers, Ansbro said of Adams.
“We are both calling on the mayor to sit down with the unions, sit down with us, and discuss what’s going on with this mandate, where we are now and how this affects the city going forward,” Ansbro said. “When he was mayor-elect he told de Blasio to sit down with the unions. Now it’s his turn to follow through…”
“Mayor Adams, please sit down with us,” Ansbro said as he called for the mayor to implement “one rule for all.”
On Thursday, Adams officially exempted athletes and performers from the city’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate, making the announcement at Citi Field alongside Mets general manager Sandy Alderson.
“I’m going to make some tough choices. People are not going to agree with some of them,” Adams said. “I must move this city forward.”
Adams also said his administration has no plans as of now to rehire unvaccinated city workers.
Ansbro estimated around 400 to 500 firefighters are at risk of losing their jobs because they remain unvaccinated.
Around 1,400 city employees were fired earlier this year for failing to comply with the city’s coronavirus vaccine mandate.