Vaccine mandates hit educators, nurses


They may not have gotten along while he was still governor, but Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio had one cause in common: coronavirus vaccines.

The problem? Not everyone agrees with them about making the vaccine mandatory.

In fact, the Communications Workers of America Local 1180 union says its filing an unfair labor practices complaint.

Union president Gloria Middleton says the mayor’s recent edict requiring all education department employees to get at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine by Sept. 27 — teacher or not — says bypassing the negotiating table is not an option.

“While education department workers are the first group of municipal workers in New York City to face a full vaccine mandate, they certainly won’t be the last,” Middleton said, in a statement. “Out of courtesy to — and respect for — the hundreds of labor unions that keep this city operational, it would have been appropriate for the mayor to have discussed his plans with labor leaders before just announcing them. Our job is to protect the rights of our members, and while his job is to protect all New Yorkers, our members are New Yorkers, too.”

CWA Local 1180 represents more than 8,000 workers.

The New York State Nurses Association has its own beef with Cuomo’s vaccine mandate effective for all health care workers to get at least one dose of the vaccine by Sept. 27. And that group hopes new governor Kathy Hochul might do something more to protect those on the front line of a continuing pandemic.

“With the sharp increase in primarily unvaccinated patients entering hospitals around the state, we understand more must be done to keep our communities safe,” the group said, in a statement. “More must be done to prepare our hospitals for another COVID surge.”

The state health department must take a strong role in ensuring health care facilities meet health and safety protocols that fully recognize airborne transmission, the group added. The department also needs to ensure medical facilities are staffed with enough front line health care workers, especially intensive care unit nurses.

And, of course, there needs to be more than enough personal protective equipment supplies for everyone.

“Overall, we are seeing a crisis in hospital emergency departments that indicates a general lack of preparedness,” the nurses association said. “Our health care workers are exhausted and traumatized. Their voices should be heard — not denied or characterized as vectors of infection — which is exactly what we’re trying to avoid.”