By Mara Gay
Ms. Gay is a member of the editorial board.
As New York pushes forward with some of the toughest and farthest-reaching vaccine mandates in the nation, thousands of health care workers in the state appear to be willing to be fired rather than get vaccinated.
So, too, do thousands of people who work in New York City’s public schools.
How sad that many of these vaccine holdouts are supported by their unions. Talk about a lack of solidarity.
For years, these unions defended the health and safety of their members. They fought for better wages and protected workers’ rights. They built the middle class. Now they are fighting state and city vaccine mandates aimed solely at keeping workers and communities safe and healthy. So much for the old union idea that an injury to one is an injury to all.
At least city and state government officials have the best interests of the public in mind, even if some in the labor movement have forgotten which side they’re on.
The state’s mandate, requiring vaccination of health care workers, went into effect at midnight on Monday. The city’s, which requires the same of all Department of Education employees, goes into effect at 5 p.m. on Friday. A court upheld the mandate on Monday.
Some unions, like New York’s nurses’ union, took a reasonable approach, expeditiously negotiating over the vaccine mandate and fighting for other workplace safety measures related to the pandemic, like proper protective gear. Local 32BJ, a New York unit of the Service Employees International Union, which represents health care aides, janitors and many other lower-wage employees, has taken a similar approach and pushed hard to vaccinate its members.
But other New York unions have sought to stymie or delay the vaccine mandates. Some have argued that vaccination shouldn’t be a condition of employment at all.
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