NJ police and firefighters fight vaccine mandates/protest in Newark, NJ
Police and fire departments in New Jersey continue to push back against vaccine mandates. .
The Newark Firefighters Union will lead a protest along with other police and fire unions in Newark on Wednesday, September 8. The protest comes after Mayor Ras Baraka signed an executive order two weeks ago mandating a COVID vaccine for all city employees, including police and firefighters.
"It goes without saying that much of city government explicitly exists for the sole purpose of keeping our residents safe, which is why it is confounding to me that we are getting push back from certain public employee unions about our mandate," Baraka wrote in an op-ed published on NJ.com.
Early challenges to vaccine mandates for police officers have largely failed.
After Wayne imposed a vaccine mandate on all municipal employees, the police union challenged it in court. A judge sided with the town saying the mandate was in the interest of public health. The union then went to the Public Employee Relations Commission, arguing the mandate should have been collectively bargained. After first blocking the mandate, PERC will now allow it to stand.
Wayne Mayor Chris Vergano told NorthJersey.com, "We have to make sure that when we're going into somebody's house, we protect ourselves and we protect the public that we're going to visit. They're counting on us to take care of them."
State and local vaccine mandates have largely included exemptions for medical and/or religious reasons and the option for weekly testing.
Not all towns and cities have gone the route of a mandate. In Hoboken, where a third of municipal employees are unvaccinated, the city is considering paying $1,000 to workers who get the jab.