After promising legal action in response to the city's newest vaccine mandate, the NYPD largest union followed through on Monday by suing New York City in Staten Island state Supreme Court, the union announced.
NYPD officers have had the option to get vaccinated or test out -- but as of Oct. 29, the 20,000 or so not yet dosed must get at least one or be placed on unpaid leave, the city announced last week.
The Police Benevolent Association says getting vaccinated is a “personal medical decision” that officers should make in consultation with their doctors.
“Now that the city has moved to unilaterally impose a mandate, we will proceed with legal action to protect our members’ rights,” PBA President Pat Lynch said last week.
The union announced its lawsuit on Twitter, adding that it plans to request a temporary restraining order as well while the case is pending.
Hundreds of officers, firefighters and other city workers marched and rallied in the city on Monday afternoon to voice their opposition to the mandate.
Under an executive order signed by the mayor last month, NYPD officers must either be vaccinated or show proof of a negative COVID-19 test each week but the new order means about 20,000 unvaccinated officers must get at least one dose by 5 p.m. on Oct. 29 or be placed on unpaid leave, officials said.
"We don't want that for anyone," de Blasio pleaded at his Wednesday briefing. "We just want people to get vaccinated."
The NYPD has about 34,500 uniformed personnel and about 17,700 people in non-uniformed support positions. It had a vaccination rate of 61% last month, but that number increased to 68% in less than two weeks, according to NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea.
The two commissioners who oversee the largest police and fire departments in the U.S. have already said earlier this month that they support the mandate for the members of their respective departments. Shea had even made impassioned pleas to officers in a video message, urging them to get inoculated.
More than 60 NYPD employees have died of COVID-19.
Several groups have already tried to challenge the mandate in courts -- with teachers taking their case all the way to the Supreme Court, which declined to hear it -- but for the most part, the argument of public health as justifying the rule has prevailed.
Overall, de Blasio says about 46,000 of all city employees remain unvaccinated.
"That's a lot of people, and think about their families, think about everyone they come in contact with," the mayor said. "We're fighting this war against COVID still, let's not kid ourselves. And the difference now, if we get people vaccinated, we're going to save tens of thousands of lives. If we don't, we're going to lose a lot of people who could have been saved and we're not going to get out of this morass."