The Post has learned that less than two hours before the Big Apple’s vaccination-mandate deadline, more than 1,000 city corrections officials had not been vaccinated on Tuesday afternoon.
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If unvaccinated officers do not receive the shot by 5 p.m., they will be placed on unpaid leave – adding to the ongoing staffing crisis at Rikers Island.
Joining the 1,095 corrections officers who had yet to receive a COVID-19 shot, 168 were unvaccinated captains, according to union officials and the city’s Department of Corrections.
The DOC said that in the agency, 23 per cent of the staff, including officers and captains, had not been vaccinated as of Tuesday afternoon. Twenty-five percent of those not vaccinated are uniformed workers, or about 2,200 workers, who must replace their shotguns, vests and shields if they choose not to vaccinate, the agency said. Uniformed staff includes officers and captains.
For months, Rikers Island has engulfed in chaos as the DOC grapples with a ballooning prisoner population, increased staff retirements and widespread worker absenteeism brought on by prison mess, dangerous conditions and forced triple and quadruple shifts.
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When Commissioner Vincent Shiraldi was appointed to head the department over the summer, he promised to end grueling work hours for employees. But on Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio paved the way for him to remain.
lame-duck mayor signed an executive order Allowing 12-hour visits from the regular 8-hour shift in anticipation of a vaccine mandate affecting prison operations, and “any other measure necessary to address the current staffing shortage”.
In a news release Monday, Shiraldi announced the transition to 12-hour tours, saying, “The officers who come to work every day have gone above and beyond to support their city.
“While we hope that every member of the service understands how important vaccination is, we also believe that we should be prepared. This is a step that other agencies in the city took and we felt were appropriate for us. Is.”
DOC has the lowest vaccination rate among the entire city workforce at 77 percent. By comparison, the NYPD has a vaccination rate of 87 percent, and the FDNY’s is 92 percent, City Hall data shows.
Benny Bossio Jr., president of the Correction Officers Benevolent Association, called the mayor’s executive order “no less than torture” and said the union was “preparing for strict legal action” to fight it.
“The same mayor who vowed in October to end triple shifts for corrections officers is now guaranteeing every officer to work 24 hours a day, along with this dreaded executive order,” Bossio Jr. told The Post in a statement. said in the statement.
“Tomorrow, proceeding to put the less staff we have on leave would be like fueling a fire, which would have a devastating effect on the safety of our officers and the thousands of prisoners in our custody.
“We strongly believe that the staffing crisis resulting from Mayor de Blasio’s failure to hire more officers for three years has made it impossible for the DOC to put officers on leave without endangering the lives of our officers and prisoners in our custody.” made,” the union chief said.
Patrick Ferraiolo, president of the Correction Captains Association, said the DoC should have been spared the vaccination mandate given the current staffing crisis.
“There’s no reason why we can’t continue to test weekly for employees who haven’t been vaccinated,” Ferraiolo told The Post.
“At the end of the day, it’s still their choice. I find it absurd that visitors who come to visit prisoners and the prisoners themselves are not mandated. What does that mean?”
When the mandate first went into effect, only 46 percent of DOC employees were vaccinated. Since then, the DOC has held town halls, hosted family days, distributed mobsters, and offered a $500 incentive to bring the numbers up.
The DoC declined to answer how many applications they have received for reasonable accommodation, including for medical and religious reasons, and how many have been approved. The agency only said that the employees would be allowed to work if their requests were still pending. If the application is denied, an appeal can be made to the agency’s Office of Equal Employment Opportunity.