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15 Feb 2022

City issues statement on Philadelphia Fire Dept vaccine mandate lawsuit

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February 15, 2022 Category: Coronavirus Posted by:

Full city statement in response to the suit:

Since it was announced in November, the City has worked diligently with Local 22 to move forward with implementing the vaccination mandate using an arbitration process agreed upon by Local 22, a process by which the City has successfully negotiated agreements with our other labor partners. The City simply cannot afford to delay any further the implementation of a requirement that will keep both our employees and the public they serve safe. As such, the City announced earlier this month that it would move forward with implementing the vaccination mandate for all represented employees, including members of Local 22. The City has notified Local 22 that it remains ready to negotiate the impact of this policy and promptly proceed to interest arbitration to resolve any disputes, as it has been trying to do since November. Despite needlessly delaying the arbitration process for months, Local 22 finally agreed to name an arbitrator last week and the City is pushing to schedule a hearing as quickly as possible.

It is also simply untrue to say the City is massively short on firefighters and lives are at risk. The City budgets for 3,348 personnel, and those positions are filled through our current deployment firefighters, and those working overtime shifts. Mayor Kenney has made unprecedented investments in the Philadelphia Fire Department, reversing massive cuts made by previous Administrations. Funding for the Fire Department has gone from actual expenditures of $236 million in FY17 to $361 million in the FY22 budget, an increase of over 50 percent. We wish Mr. Bresnan would spend more time urging his membership to get vaccinated and protect themselves and the residents they serve instead of spreading falsehoods and attempting to engender fear.

Regarding union leadership’s claim about data provided, to date, the City has provided Local 22 with some of the information they’ve requested related to the self-reported vaccination status of their members; we are still working on the voluminous request.

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