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VIDEO: New York Mandate Podcast, Ep. 8: Sanitation Worker Danny Hulkower

"I will be a pauper before I am a sellout": A conversation with sanitation worker Danny Hulkower, who was fired after his application for a religious exemption to the vaccine mandate was rejected.

“I think we need a labor party. I think that the only thing that's going to break the Democrat-Republican nonsense and the Third Way politics that they've created is by creating a third party that focuses on the most important thing about being an American: having a job, having a stable job.” - Danny Hulkower

April 2024 UPDATE: This is a video version of the previously published audio-only version of our conversation. Danny is one of the petitioners-respondents in the Garvey v. NYC lawsuit, for which there were oral arguments in a New York State appellate court this month. Click here for more coverage of the pivotal Garvey case.

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In this episode of the New York Mandate podcast, I talk with Danny Hulkower, who started working for the New York City Department of Sanitation in 2016. His application for a religious exemption to the New York City COVID-19 vaccine mandate for municipal workers was denied, and he lost an appeal in January 2022. His employment with DSNY was terminated in February 2022. He is currently a plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit and is appealing his exemption denial again with a lawyer.

Danny talked with me about his religious perspective on the vaccine as a Jew, his disappointment in his union and other workers who didn’t want to take the vaccine but ended up complying with the mandate, and the current state of public discourse.

We also talked about what it was like to work on the Upper West Side of Manhattan during the pandemic lockdowns, the exodus of many apartment dwellers in the area, and the 2020 riots.

The New York Mandate Podcast is subscriber-supported. To receive new episodes and support my work, please consider becoming a subscriber.

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

Teamsters Local 831
This union, the Teamsters Local 831, is the Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association, representing New York City Department of Sanitation workers.

New York State Public Employees' Fair Employment Act — The Taylor Law
This labor relations statute that covers most public employees in New York State dates back to 1967. It prohibits strikes by public employees.

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
The EEOC enforces federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or employee because of the person's race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, transgender status, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.

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. This is the mandate that led to Danny’s employment being terminated.

Order of the Commissioner of Health and Mental Hygiene to Require COVID-19 Vaccination in the Workplace
This is the order that former Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi issued on December 13, 2021 requiring all workers in New York City who work in a workplace or interact with other workers or the public 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