Lawsuits against vaccine mandate proliferate as Monday deadline looms
Brendan J. Lyons is reporting for the Times Union the state Civil Service Employees Association, or CSEA, has filed a petition seeking an injunction to halt the vaccine mandate that is scheduled to go into effect on Monday. The union represents roughly 5,600 people who work in the state's court system. A similar petition was also filed in state Supreme Court in Albany this week on behalf of a group of Buffalo-area physicians, nurses and a nursing home administrator. And Kate Lisa is reporting for the Johnson Newspaper Corp a U.S. district judge September 23, dismissed a request from nine state security guards for a temporary restraining order against the vaccine mandate. The nine downstate members of the State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association filed a lawsuit naming Gov. Kathy Hochul and other state heath officials. A federal judge has now dismissed the restraining order in that case, but the plaintiffs will pursue the complaint, arguing the mandate violates their 14th Amendment rights and discriminates against certain state workers. The legal action is developing as Hochul's administration has not backed down from the mandate. It requires that public-facing workers, mainly in hospitals, nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, receive at least their first vaccination by September 27, or risk being suspended or terminated from their jobs. The state Office of Court Administration issued its own mandate for vaccinations, which contends the requirement must be negotiated when they involve workers protected by collective bargaining. The health department's mandate affects both public and private health care facilities. Thousands of nurses and other medical professionals have declined to be vaccinated. Many hospitals are already reducing or eliminating elective surgeries and some are diverting patients to other hospitals to deal with the staffing issues. In Hudson, Columbia Memorial Health continues to divert patients from its Emergency Room. Hospital officials announced September 22, the facility was experiencing higher-than-normal wait times due in part to staffing shortages. The Hochul administration this week was in negotiation with multiple state labor unions, who have said the state's mandate should have been subject to collective bargaining and not simply imposed under a provision of state health law. Read the full story in the Times Union.