PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The City of Philadelphia announced Friday it is broadening its vaccine requirement.
Now, all city employees and some city contractors — including union workers — must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Jan. 14, 2022.
Applicable workers must be fully immunized by mid-January and provide proof of vaccination or be granted approval for an exemption.
The latest requirement applies to all union-represented city employees, regardless of where they work or their full- or part-time status.
City employees who do not get the shot by the deadline will not be able to work and will go on unpaid status for two weeks. If they still haven’t started the vaccination process after 15 days, they will be separated from employment.
As an incentive, the city is offering all permanent workers up to a $300 bonus if they provide their proof of full vaccination by Christmas Eve, even if they have been fully vaccinated for some time now.
Up until now, the city mandate only applied to health care workers in Philadelphia, some city staff, and college staff and students.
The city’s previous order — that workers be vaccinated or double-mask — had spotty results. The Law Department was almost fully compliant, but in the Streets Department, less than half the workers are vaccinated. Even the public safety agencies — police and fire — had less than 60% compliance.
“Philadelphia has worked hard to turn back COVID-19,” Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement, “and we have had success in doing so through our shared commitment to safety protocols, including vaccinations. However, that fight is not over, and the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines remain our best weapon in this ongoing struggle.”
John McNesby, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, the police union, said he is going to the arbitration panel, which he claims has jurisdiction over mandates, and will talk to lawyers about possible legal action.
Firefighters have the same provision.