Aside from being put on unpaid leave, New York City teachers who’ve declined to get the COVID-19 vaccine won’t be allowed to keep their health benefits for another year unless they give up their right to sue the city over its vaccine mandate.
This condition was the result of an arbitration invoked by the city’s largest teachers union, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT). The union touted the arbitration verdict as a victory that forced the city to acknowledge medical and religious exemptions to the vaccination. It also allowed the teachers to take a year of unpaid leave with continued healthcare coverage or voluntarily resign with unused sick days paid out and a year of continued health insurance.
But the UFT Sept. 10 press release on the issue left out the caveat that the health benefits would only continue beyond Nov. 30 for those who sign waivers preventing them from suing the city for getting fired. It did include a link to the arbitration verdict that, on page 17, states the waiver requirement. But several teachers told The Epoch Times the DOE only explicitly told them about the condition about a week ago, right before the mandate went into effect.
Based on last week’s data, several thousand teachers and other school workers remain unvaccinated.
An official with the city’s Department of Education (DOE) distanced the agency from imposing the waiver requirement.
“This stipulation was given out by a third-party arbitrator,” the official told The Epoch Times on the condition of anonymity. “Unions and DOE both agreed to it, DOE didn’t make this decision.”
But the arbitration verdict says its rulings “reflect” what the parties agreed to before and during the mediation as well as the “language” the parties agreed to in response to the arbitrator’s interim rulings.
It suggests the conditions of the unpaid leave were in particular left to the parties to sort out.
By Petr Svab