Philadelphia pauses plan to fire unvaccinated city workers

The city is still in arbitration with the police and firefighters' unions

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia officials have called a temporary halt to their plan to fire employees who don't comply with the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city workers, due to continued arbitration with two of its unions.

The city will put a stay on firing any employees who don't follow the mandate until it completes arbitration with the firefighters’ union and the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 5, which is the police officers' union.

Philadelphia's mandate was set to go into effect Monday after a further postponement from Jan. 14.

The city has come to an agreement over the mandate with the blue-collar District Council 33 and the white-collar District Council 47. Both those agreements came in early January.

Part of the agreement is that all unions would agree to the same terms.

Deputy Mayor for Labor Rich Lazer said that the city decided to wait to implement the vaccine mandate until an arbitration panel rules on the appeal by the Fraternal Order of Police. He is not sure when that will come, but he expects it soon.

"I think everybody’s on the same page that the vaccine is the best protection against COVID-19, and it will be best for our workforce to keep them safe and healthy," said Lazer.

"I think we’re all just trying to work together to make sure what’s best for our employees."

The percentage of COVID-19 vaccinations among city workers has risen since the announcement of the mandate. In some departments, it's 90% to 100%. Yet public safety unions have seen less than 70% of their members vaccinated against COVID-19.

Stay tuned to KYW Newsradio on-air and online for more details on this breaking story.

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