Providence Council Moves Vaccine Mandate Ordinance to Finance Committee Vote, Mandate Officially Effective

“We should listen, ask questions, and then decide if an order is really needed,” Councilor Anthony says.

PROVIDENCE, RI (WLNE) — The Providence City Council convened Friday on Zoom for an emergency meeting on Mayor Elorza’s vaccination mandate, which went into effect at 5:30 p.m.

“Mayor Elorza is not going to abruptly fire unvaccinated police officers,” says Councilwoman Helen Anthony. “Rather, mayors’ staff have met with police unions to listen to their concerns and offer the information their members need to decide whether to vaccinate or seek an exemption.”

At a special city council meeting on Friday night, an ordinance was introduced that would prevent the city from taking any action that could “significantly impair the city’s ability to respond to public emergencies, putting residents of the city in danger.

According to the new ordinance, Article 19, Section 2.147, “The Director of Human Resources, or any other City official, at his discretion or under direction mayor, shall not terminate more than 20% of any department that has more than 30 full-time employees within a 6-month period without first obtaining permission from the municipal council as prescribed in this section. »

No more than 2% of public security employees could be fired without this authorization.

The new ordinance would require that any proposed dismissal first receive approval from the city council after the individual department provides a written request detailing the titles of the proposed individuals, an explanation for said dismissal and a proposed plan to avoid any staffing issues. which could occur. from such termination.

Following this proposal, a public hearing would be held within two weeks to hear questions and concerns from the public.

Councilwoman Anthony expressed concern that the mass layoffs could send a message that would stoke division among city workers while defending the mayor’s term.

“I’ve been a longtime supporter of the mayor’s vaccination mandate for city employees. We are in the midst of an unprecedented health crisis, the omicron variant is spreading rapidly, Rhode Island has one of the highest case counts in the nation, and our hospitals are overwhelmed,” says Anthony. “Instead of fueling conflicts, let’s work together. The health of our neighborhoods is at stake, our neighbors deserve to be protected from the virus, and our city staff deserve time to find a collaborative solution that does not create division.

The meeting was expected to interrupt the term, but in the end, Council President Igliozzi announced that the ordinance would be put to a vote by the Finance Committee.