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Largest healthcare union in US comes out against mandatory COVID vaccination

The leader of the Service Employees International Union vowed that 'we are not going to just give in' to threats to receive the shots or lose your job.
Thu Jun 24, 2021 - 7:41 pm EST
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June 24, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) -- The largest healthcare union in the United States said that its members should not be forced to take a vaccination against COVID-19.

“Whether there is a legal challenge that we can make, or whether it's just a pure organizational challenge that we can make, we are not going to just give in,” George Gresham of SEIU Local 1199 said to New York publication Gothamist. The Service Employees International Union has been a key ally for the Democratic Party.

Gresham, president of the SEIU local, was reacting to news that New York Presbyterian Hospital would require all of its employees to receive a COVID vaccine, despite none of them having full FDA approval. Furthermore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently warned about heart inflammation risks to people under 30 who receive the vaccine.

Gresham had previously voiced his opposition to mandatory vaccinations.

“We are not in agreement with a mandate of the COVID-19 vaccine. A hard-handed approach will not work and will only create greater frustration for the healthcare heroes who have been battling this pandemic every day for the last 15 months,” Gresham, who has received the vaccine, said in a June 11 statement.

A memo from the hospital said that “all employees must take at least one COVID-19 shot by September 1st to keep their jobs,” according to Gothamist’s paraphrase of the directive. “Those seeking a medical or religious exemption must apply for one by August 1st. About 70 percent of staff at NewYork-Presbyterian have been vaccinated so far,” the website reported.

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The New York State Nurses’ Association has also come out against mandatory vaccination.

“NYSNA strongly opposes the mandatory vaccination of health care providers for COVID-19 as a condition of employment or as a state or federal mandate,” the union said. “NYSNA calls for independent scientific reviews of all vaccine trial data at both the federal and state levels to assure those who wish to be vaccinated of the safety of all FDA approved COVID-19 vaccines.”

The pushback from unions is similar to what New York Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo faced when he tried to mandate COVID vaccines at public universities.

Cuomo, who is currently under investigation relating to COVID nursing home deaths, required all students at State University of New York and City University of New York to receive the jab.

However, he exempted faculty and staff from the requirements because of union contracts.

“It will be absolutely crucial in getting back to a sense of normalcy in our campus communities,” Fred Kowal, a leader in a teachers union, said in praise of the mandate. However, Kowal does not want the vaccine mandated for his own constituents.

“It would require negotiations with (his union),” The Buffalo News reported.

Gerald Harmon, president of the American Medical Association, has said his group opposes COVID vaccine mandates, at least for the time being. 

He said such directives are “a blunt instrument and may carry the risk of eroding trust and undermining public health goals.”


  andrew cuomo, cdc, covid-19, fda, gothamist, mandatory vaccines, new york, new york state nurses' association, new york-presbyterian hospital, service employees international union

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