Henry Garrido, executive director of the city’s largest public union, District Council 37, said he has repeatedly asked the mayor to push back the return-to-work date, but has yet to get a response. If the city moves ahead, his union will consider its legal options, he said.
New York is not the first city to mandate workers to return to the office full-time. The City of Houston, which has 22,000 office workers, brought them back full time over the summer, according to Mary Benton, a spokeswoman for the city. Chicago’s 5,500 office workers returned to the office five days a week in late spring, with some teleworking exceptions.
New York State workers were scheduled to return full time to the office earlier this week, but Gov. Kathy Hochul has pushed that back to Oct. 12; the state’s roughly 130,000 workers will be required to be vaccinated or tested weekly.
Mr. Garrido said he is concerned about workers’ ability to maintain social distancing, and he does not understand the need to bring people back to the office who are performing well while working from home.
“To me, this is crazy,” Mr. Garrido said in an interview. “Because at this point, there’s a new reality.”
Harry Nespoli, chairman of the Municipal Labor Committee, an umbrella organization of unions that includes uniformed personnel, said his organization met with city officials last Wednesday and warned them that if the mayor imposed a more robust vaccine mandate that did not include a testing option, it would take legal action.
Scientific studies show that the vaccination has prevented serious illness and death, but Mr. Nespoli said he was just voicing the concerns of his members.