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The City Hall of Philadelphia.

Credit: Kylie Cooper

Philadelphia unionized city workers currently have until May 31 to receive at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or apply for an exemption, but this mandate may be further delayed. 

The vaccine mandate for unionized workers was originally set for Jan. 14, but was subject to agreement by unions, including two American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees district councils — AFSCME District Council 33 and AFSCME District Council 47 — as well as the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, and Local 22 of the International Association of Fire Fighters, according to WHYY

Several delays have occurred in mandating vaccination for these union employees. District Councils 33 and 47, which includes non-uniformed city employees and Department of Public Health employees, reached agreements with the city to move forward with the mandates. However, this included a provision that the compliance date would be pushed back if other unions secured later deadlines, the Inquirer reported

A December deadline was set for the 2,000 non-unionized employees, which led to 13 firings for non-compliance. 

Once the mandate takes effect, workers not receiving one dose of the vaccine, without a religious or medical exemption, will be placed on a 30-day leave, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. If they are not compliant after the leave, workers may be fired. 

The International Association of Fire Fighters Local 22 is working against the wording in the mandate that would allow its non-compliant members to be fired. 

Mayor Jim Kenney has been met with opposition from Local 22 leaders over the mandate, especially due to Kenney’s connection with the Fire Department. 

“The mayor of Philadelphia, the son of a Philadelphia Fire Department battalion chief, is willing to terminate firefighters over his mandate, and that’s sad,” Mike Bresnan, the president of Local 22, told the Inquirer. 

Philadelphia currently has a vaccine mandate for health care workers and higher education students, faculty, and staff. Penn has a similar mandate, and the University also requires all eligible individuals to have a COVID-19 booster shot as well.