Contractors and unions expressed skepticism about the enforcement of New York City's vaccine mandate on all private-sector workers.
The announcement on Dec. 6 applies to employees working in person in New York City, and will go into effect Dec. 27, just days before outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio makes way for Mayor-elect Eric Adams in January.
But the requirement of all private-sector workers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 drew immediate pushback, according to the Wall Street Journal, and will likely face legal challenges before moving forward.
Gary LaBarbera, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York (BCTC), an organization that represents more than 100,000 tradesmen and tradeswomen across New York City, questioned the implementation and enforcement of the vaccine mandate.
"For months, the BCTC has worked with the City and State to encourage members to get vaccinated to protect their health and the health of fellow New Yorkers, and these efforts have been overwhelmingly successful," said LaBarbera in a statement to Construction Dive. "The new vaccine mandate does raise questions about implementation and enforcement, and it's important that they are thoughtfully addressed to ensure the city's economic recovery is not further jeopardized."
STO Building Group, a New York-based construction manager and general contractor, said via email to Construction Dive it isn't taking any immediate action, but is awaiting further guidance from the city.
John Mingione, chief operating officer at New York-based construction and development firm Omnibuild, said the city's vaccine enforcement strategies have put more onus on contractors over time.
"The larger and more organized construction managers have self-policed the COVID compliance efforts without much trouble, however the threats of fines, violations, and Department of Buildings actions are part of the continued shift of the city's administrative and enforcement responsibilities onto contractors," said Mingione. "It comes across a bit heavy-handed and punitive – more stick than carrot."
In related developments, a judge in New York state temporarily suspended the enforcement of New York City's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for municipal workers. That vaccine mandate for public employees was announced on Oct. 20.
At the national level, another judge blocked the Biden administration's federal contractor vaccine mandate.