PHOENIX – The Phoenix City Council is planning to hold a public session next month regarding its new COVID-19 vaccine requirement for municipal employees.
The city abruptly announced last week that all its employees had be fully vaccinated against the virus by Jan. 18 or face potential termination.
The decision was made during an executive session, without a public hearing.
Councilwoman Ann O’Brien said Tuesday that Mayor Kate Gallego agreed to her request to address the topic during the previously scheduled Dec. 7 policy session.
"It is a very important topic that I believe should be discussed in public and not behind closed doors to give our employees and the community a chance to weigh in," O’Brien, who joined the council representing District 1 in April, said in a press release.
#PHX: I am with all of you who believe in personal choice, who support our police and fire and who trust the medical advice of their doctors and not the federal government. No more conversations behind closed doors. It's time for the public to weigh in. pic.twitter.com/HyyA6NwTQh
— PHX Council District 1 (@PHXDistrict1) November 24, 2021
O’Brien said the vaccine mandate will be the only item on the agenda. The mayor’s office confirmed to KTAR News 92.3 FM that the item was on the agenda, which must be posted online no later than 24 hours before the meeting under city statute.
“I am not anti-vaccine; I am anti-mandates,” O’Brien said. “I am pro-personal choice and I believe that Phoenix employees will do the right thing and make decisions that are best for themselves and their families.”
Thursday’s policy announcement explained that Phoenix had enough federal contracts to itself be classified as a federal contractor, and therefore all municipal workers fall under President Joe Biden's executive order mandating federal contractors to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Councilman Sal DiCiccio told KTAR News 92.3’s Arizona’s Morning News last week that while Phoenix does receive federal funding, it was "a bunch of B.S." to consider every city employee a federal contractor.
"On Dec. 7, I encourage the public to let their opinions be heard about this executive order - an issue that has negatively impacted the morale of our employees, an issue that has divided our organization and an issue that could greatly affect the city services we provide,” O'Brien said.
In response to the Phoenix mandate, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich added the city as a defendant Monday in his ongoing lawsuit against Biden's vaccine policies.
Brnovich, who is running for a U.S. Senate seat in 2022, also added the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association and United Phoenix Firefighters Association Local 493 as plaintiffs in the suit, which was originally filed in September.