New York City's largest police union said Wednesday it will initiate legal action in response to Mayor Bill de Blasio's mandate that all city employees get vaccinated for COVID-19 or be placed on unpaid leave.
The mayor announced the requirement Wednesday, pitting himself against public employees, including police officers and firefighters who have refused to get the shots. De Blasio gave municipal employees until Nov. 1 to get their first vaccine shot.
As an incentive, he said those who receive a dose by Oct. 29 would get an extra $500 in their paycheck.
"My job as your mayor is to keep this city safe, keep this city healthy," he said. "And vaccination is the way."
The Police Benevolent Association, which represents rank-and-file officers, said it will proceed with legal action to "protect our members' rights."
"From the beginning of the de Blasio administration's haphazard vaccine rollout, we have fought to make the vaccine available to every member who chooses it, while also protecting their right to make that personal medical decision in consultation with their own doctor," PBA President Pat Lynch said in a statement.
He said the city was now unilaterally imposing a mandate. Nearly 70% of the New York Police Department is vaccinated. More than 60 NYPD employees have died of COVID-19.
Fox News has reached out to De Blasio's office and the union.
The New York Fire Department has lost 16 workers to the virus. During a press conference after the mayor's announcement, the FDNY Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York said it was also against a vaccine mandate.
"We in the UFA have always been pro-vaccine, but we are also pro-choice and anti-mandate," said union President Andrew Ansbro, AMNY reported. "Since the pandemic has started, we were all told that our salvation would come when we reached herd immunity. I’m here to say that after 55% of all members have been vaccinated 75-70% have been sick, New York City firefighters have reached herd immunity."
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea and Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro have said they support a vaccine mandate.
"The science, to health, the emergency situation that we're in, it makes sense," Shea said during a press briefing earlier this month.
De Blasio previously mandated public school teachers get vaccines.
Elsewhere in the city, everyone must show proof of vaccination to eat inside restaurants and attend and play in sporting events. That provision has pitted Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving against the team. He has been banned from playing or practicing over his refusal to get vaccinated.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.