A Manhattan judge on Friday threw out a case by a prison guards’ union trying to overturn the city’s vaccination mandate — saying it was “ruthless” to not have mandatory vaccinations at lockups.
Manhattan Superior Court Justice Shlomo Hagler said while acknowledging the seriousness of city employees and correctional officers losing their jobs, “this does not overcome the city’s efforts to prevent the spread of this deadly virus.”
The spread is even more potentially damaging in prisons, where people are involuntarily and in confined spaces, Hagler said during oral arguments, held via video on Friday.
“Can you imagine the outbreak that can occur in Rikers and other prisons in New York?” said the judge. “It would be ruthless and cause great harm to inmates and others if allowed to do so.
“Therefore, this court dismisses the motion for preliminary and injunctive relief and denies the motion,” Hagler concluded.
While acknowledging that an exemption for professional athletes, including Brooklyn Nets player Kyrie Irving, was unfair, the judge said it was ultimately irrelevant to the Correction Officers Benevolent Association’s case because those athletes are not city employees.
The prison guards’ union filed the lawsuit in December, calling the mandate “draconian.”
At Friday’s hearing, union attorney John Burns said the mandate resulted in 65 correctional officers and 1,700 city employees losing their jobs for not getting the jab.
“The extension of the mandate to permanent civil servants is wrong,” Burns said.
Burns said fears about the side effects of the vaccine were “well founded”.
“The whole concept of this vaccination order – either you take the shot or you’re going to leave and you’re going to be unemployed and you’re going to lose the time you’ve given to the people of New York. If you lose your pension, you lose your time on the job,” Burns said. “It doesn’t have to be.”
Meanwhile, city attorney Bilal Haiden argued that a test or vaccination alternative would be insufficient because home testing is unreliable and some strains of the virus do not register well with tests.
“Vaccination requirements have been shown to reduce hospitalizations and reduce infection rates … you’re not just dealing with staff, you’re dealing with inmates who aren’t there voluntarily,” Haiden said. “There is regular close contact with the inmates.”
Burns did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
https://nypost.com/2022/07/29/judge-tosses-nyc-guard-union-suit-opposing-vaccine-mandate/ Judge throws out NYC Guard Union lawsuit against vaccination mandate