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New York Mandate Podcast, Ep. 49: FDNY Lieutenant Matt Connor

"I miss the way things were.": A conversation with a firefighter who was put on leave without pay under NYC's vaccine mandate and is still advocating for workers who haven't been reinstated.

“One of the things that I’m wrestling with is . . . how committed should I be to this career that I love so much when we’ve been treated this way—and the lack of decency in our return to work and the lack of decency for the people that are still out of work now. . . . I think a lot of us try to answer that question: To what extent am I going to remain committed to a city that’s treated people this way, or an agency that’s treated people this way, or my neighbors who segregated me from society? To what extent is this my home?” - Matt Connor

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In this episode of the New York Mandate Podcast, I talk with Matt Connor, a lieutenant with the New York City Fire Department. He was inspired by the events of 9/11 to join the department and worked through the height of the 2020 pandemic before being put on leave without pay for refusing to comply with the NYC’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for City workers.

Matt talked with me about what it was like to work through the pandemic; how NYC’s many restrictions affected him as a father, museum educator, and student; and how he and other workers came together to form Bravest for Choice and the National Coalition of Frontline Workers.

We also talked about current legal and legislative efforts to get New York City workers who lost their jobs under the mandates reinstated.

If you think it’s important for people to hear Matt’s story, please share it!


Here are some links related to things we talked about during the episode:

New York State Senate Bill S7466A and Assembly Bill A9196
These bills if passed will require the reinstatement of New York City employees who were dismissed from employment due to a COVID-19 vaccine requirement.

New York City Council Resolution 0005-2024

New York City Councilwoman Joann Ariola held a February 8, 2024, press conference at City Hall along with other members of City Council’s Common Sense Caucus, Bravest for Choice, and other City workers who were forced out of their jobs under the City’s mandates. Ariola announced a resolution backing New York State bills S7466A/A9196 to reinstate City workers. She introduced the resolution at a City Council meeting later that day.

National Coalition of Frontline Workers
This organization was founded by frontline workers, many of whom lost their jobs or were subject to other penalties under COVID-19 vaccine mandates. It advocates for frontline workers including law enforcement, firefighters, emergency workers, and health care workers.

Bravest for Choice
This organization advocates for NYC firefighters, fire inspectors, and EMS workers who were terminated or put on leave because they did not comply with the City’s vaccine mandates.

“Key to NYC” Vaccination Mandate Executive Order
The “Key to NYC” mandate required both employees and patrons of restaurants, entertainment and cultural venues, and gyms to show proof of vaccination. It began on August 17, 2021, and was lifted on March 7, 2022.

Order of the Commissioner of Health and Mental Hygiene to Require COVID-19 Vaccination for City Employees and Certain City Contractors
This is the order that former Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi issued on October 20, 2021 requiring New York City municipal employees and contractors to be vaccinated.

About the New York Mandate Podcast

The New York Mandate Podcast is an ongoing series of conversations exploring the costs and consequences of vaccine mandates in New York City. I talk with workers, students, and parents who have been directly affected by the mandates, as well as legal and policy experts.

In late 2021, the City introduced a series of requirements for workers to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. These requirements were put in place through executive orders issued by the administration of former mayor Bill de Blasio. They covered nearly all workers in New York City, in both the public and private sectors. They also barred unvaccinated adults, including parents, from schools.

Current mayor Eric Adams kept the mandates in place until November 1, 2022 for the private sector and February 10, 2023 for City workers, and has encouraged private employers to put their own vaccine requirements in place.

The views expressed in the New York Mandate podcast are the personal opinions of the people speaking, and are not intended to provide medical or legal advice.

Join the Conversation

Have you lost your job, been put on leave, or lost opportunities to work as an independent contractor as a result of your decision not to comply with a vaccine mandate in New York? Did you take a vaccine against your wishes in order to keep your job? Please get in touch with me at

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New York Mandate Podcast
Conversations with New Yorkers who are bearing the costs and consequences of New York's COVID-19 vaccine mandates.