New York City sanitation workers blame de Blasio’s vaccine mandate on garbage

These city employees think Mayor Bill de Blasio’s job of vaccinating is pure waste—and they should know!

Sanitation workers angry at the COVID-19 vaccination order are letting trash pile up all over Staten Island and in parts of Brooklyn — and their union boss said Wednesday he’s on their side.

Sources said the protesting workers are engaging in a rule book slowdown that includes returning to their garage for things like gloves or gas so that the assembly isn’t finished.

Sources said supervisors were warned to guard the garage this weekend to prevent vandalism.

When asked what’s going on, Harry Nespoli, president of Teamsters Local 831, whose union represents sanitation workers, replied, “The mandate continues.”

“Look, you’re going to have some locations in the city that they feel very strongly about,” he said.

Nespoli added, “I will tell you frankly: I do not agree with the mandate for one reason. We have a program in place now in the department, which is that you get vaccinated or get tested once a week.”

Mayor de Blasio asked city workers to get a jab.
Mayor de Blasio asked city workers to get a jab.
Andrew Burt / Getty Images

Nespoli said the vaccination rate among the agency is about 65 percent.

“Our vaccinations are rising regularly,” the union president noted. “In the past five days, another 300 have been vaccinated.”

Residents of the Dungan Hills neighborhood of Staten Island said the relocation scheduled for Wednesday did not happen, echoing what happened on Saturday.

“A few days after this and people will be screaming in the streets!” Nick Gisonda, 69, said.

Sewer didn't pick up trash on Staten Island.  Victory Street in Silver Lake Staten Island.
A view of a garbage heap on Victory Avenue. On Staten Island.
Steve White

But the retired city mechanic expressed his solidarity with the sanitation workers, saying: “It’s like Nazi Germany: ‘Where are your papers?’ your cards! Show me your cards! “

“What the city is doing is unfair,” added a neighbor who identified herself as Julie.

“I come from the Russian Federation and this is deja vu,” she said.

“The state should not force people to take medicine, because the state says, ‘Do this or starve! “They should be free. That’s why I came here 20 years ago.”

In Brooklyn’s Bay Ridge neighborhood, dozens of bags stuffed with trash are piled up in three piles along Shore Road.

Sewer didn't pick up trash on Staten Island.  Pictured on Richmond Road near Old Town Road
Nespoli said vaccinations among sanitation workers are about 65 percent.
Steve White

“If they don’t pick it up, it’s going to be a huge problem,” said Rolando Bruns, a local apartment building superintendent.

Ponze also noted that Owl’s Head Park is located near the other side of 68th Street.

“If I keep this here for a while,” he said, “the rats will definitely cross.”

The deadline for workers to get a jab is Friday, October 29, 2021.
The deadline for workers to get a jab is Friday, October 29, 2021.
SOPA/LightRocket Images via Gett

Other areas in Brooklyn where garbage piles accumulate include Dyker Heights, Fort Hamilton, Bath Beach, Gravesend, Bensonhurst, Flatbush, Midwood, Kensington, Canarsie, Mill Basin and Flatlands, according to the Department of Sanitation.

Under de Blasio’s directive, city employees have until 5 p.m. Friday to get their first shot — and collect a $500 bonus — or take unpaid leave.

But implementation won’t begin until Monday, giving reluctant workers last weekend to reconsider.

Additional reporting by Stephen Fago and Nolan Hicks


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