Latest on Vaccine Mandates, Phil Murphy, Bill de Blasio, and NJEA

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Here’s Matt Friedman this morning in his Politico NJ email, responding to the news that Gov. Phil Murphy will require all state contractors to get COVID vaccines but continue to give state teachers the option of weekly testing: “CORRECT ME IF I’M WRONG, BUT I’M BEGINNING TO THINK THE NJEA HAS SOME SWAY WITH MURPHY.”

Could be! Also worth noting is that with this distinction between state contractors and state workers, Murphy atypically is taking a different path than his compadre New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Hizzoner is requiring NYC teachers, who belong to the AFT affiliate United Federation of Teachers, to get vaccinated in order to keep their jobs. Our governor, however, will continue to offer NJ teachers the option of weekly testing.

One factor driving this rare division of the twin-set Murphy/de Blasio is obvious: The Mayor is ending his second term and no longer requires the support of powerful NYC lobbyists. (Also, let’s get real, de Balsio’s favorability numbers are at 25%, remarkable for a “progressive” mayor in deep blue Gotham.) Murphy, on the other hand, is wedded to leadership of the New Jersey Education Association and, it’s said, has national aspirations.

Hence the divide.

From the Record:

Gov. Phil Murphy said Wednesday that he has no immediate plans to issue a vaccine mandate to teachers and other public workers without the option of weekly testing — a different approach from New York City’s, where most unvaccinated city workers will soon be placed on unpaid leave. ‘At the moment we like where we are but we don’t rule anything out,’ Murphy said at a briefing. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Wednesday that all city workers — including police and firefighters — would be required to have received at least one shot by Oct. 29 or be placed on indefinite leave with no pay.

The Star-Ledger notes today, “the New Jersey Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, favors a vaccination requirement that also includes a testing option. The NJEA is one of Murphy’s biggest political backers.”

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