11 Investigates exclusive: City of Pittsburgh to continue employee COVID-19 vaccination mandate

PITTSBURGH — While Allegheny County and Pittsburgh Regional Transit have ended the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all employees, Channel 11 Chief Investigator Rick Earle has learned that the City of Pittsburgh plans to continue the mandate for all non-union city workers. Union employees, like police officers, are required to get the vaccine if they are new hires and if they are applying for a promotion or a new position with the city.

On Tuesday afternoon, Earle spoke with Mayor Ed Gainey about the decision to continue the mandate.

Earle: You are continuing your vaccination policy, tell me why?

Mayor Gainey: We’re going to be working on it. That’s something we are going to be talking about moving forward. We understand because even myself had an episode of COVID three or four weeks ago.

The Mayor would not address specifics, so we pressed his communications director.

“At this point in time, we are not we are not ready to fully talk about it until it’s final and ready to go,” said Maria Montano, Mayor Gainey’s communication director.

She, too, would not talk about the policy that is set to take effect on Nov. 1, 2023, until Earle read her an email he obtained outlining the new policy.

“So, vaccinations are required as a condition of employment for all new city employees and current employees before being promoted,” said Earle.

Earle: That’s the policy? That will be the policy?

Montano: Correct, that will be the policy.

The city will continue the vaccine mandate even though other major cities, like Boston, New York and Philadelphia have all ended the mandate.

Earle: Why did the city decide to push forward with this policy when everyone else seems to be disbanding it?

Montano: Because the reality is the pandemic is still here, people are still getting sick, and as public servants, we should do all that we can to help protect the public.

Under the city’s policy, only those employees who are up-to-date on vaccinations will be given five sick days if they come down with COVID-19.

Employees are allowed to petition for religious and medical exemptions.

The police union fought the vaccine mandate and won the right to negotiate it in bargaining. But they lost the ability to fight it for all new hires and any officers up for promotions.

Earle reached out to the police union and they said they would release a statement soon.

Earle also contacted the fire union and they declined to comment at this time.

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