New York real-estate giant The Durst Organization says it will fire non-union workers who fail to get a COVID-19 shot by Labor Day

Douglas Durst, chairman of The Durst Organization, wears a white shirt and black waistcoat in a corporate meeting room.
Douglas Durst is chairman of The Durst Organization

  • The Durst Organization has told about 350 staff they must get vaccinated by September 6.
  • Staff who refuse will be “separated from the company,” Crain’s New York first reported.
  • The real-estate giant will apply the rule to its non-union corporate workers.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A New York City real estate developer has told about 350 workers that it will fire them if they don’t get a COVID-19 vaccine by Labor Day, September 6.

The Durst Organization, a $8.1 billion family-owned company, said certain staff will be exempt for “medical or religious” reasons.

It will only apply the vaccine rule to its corporate, non-union workers, and not its roughly 700 union employees, who include building service workers and cleaners, Crain’s New York first reported.

“For our corporate employees, unless they receive a medical or religious accommodation, if they are not vaccinated by Sept. 6th they will be separated from the company,” Durst spokesman Jordan Barowitz told Crain’s.

A Durst spokesperson confirmed the policy to Insider.

It is not clear whether Durst’s corporate workers will need just one or both shots of a COVID-19 vaccine under the new rule. The organization did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for clarification.

Barowitz told the New York Post that Durst had informed corporate employees of the new mandate in June, and that it was “driven by the wishes of the employees who want to work in a safer environment.”

Durst’s union workers – who include building service workers, cleaners, and doormen – are protected under a collective bargaining agreement, an unnamed source familiar with the matter told The Post.

Read more: Zamir Kazi bought his first duplex in 2012 and his firm now owns more than 3,300 units. He breaks down the path to building his portfolio – and shares his best advice for breaking into real estate investing today.

Employers have grappled with whether to implement strict vaccine mandates for employees as offices reopen. Companies can legally require their workers to get vaccinated or ban them from the office, The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) said in guidance published in June.

Tech giant Facebook announced Wednesday that it would require all staff working on its US campuses to be fully jabbed. Google CEO Sundar Pichai also said in a Wednesday press release that workers returning to the office must be fully vaccinated.

New York City’s government announced Monday that it would require all city workers to get vaccinated by September 13, or to take weekly tests. The number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the city has increased over recent weeks, according to local government data.

Cases of the highly contagious Delta variant have surged in recent weeks across the US. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Tuesday that fully vaccinated people should wear masks in all public indoor settings in certain COVID-19 hot spots, reversing previous guidance it set in May.

Robert Durst, brother of the company’s chairman, Douglas Durst, is accused of murdering his friend, Susan Berman, in 2000, and is standing trial in Los Angeles.

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NYC offers $100 to anyone who gets their first COVID-19 vaccine shot

Mayor of New York City Bill de Blasio speaks during the opening of a vaccination center for Broadway workers in Times Square on April 12, 2021 in New York City.
Mayor of New York City Bill de Blasio speaks during the opening of a vaccination center for Broadway workers in Times Square on April 12, 2021 in New York City.

  • NYC is offering $100 to anyone who goes to a city-run site to get the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • The new vaccine incentive was announced Wednesday amid increased concerns over the the Delta variant.
  • About 41% of NYC residents still haven’t gotten the shot, according to city data.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

New York City announced on Wednesday that anyone can receive $100 if they get the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at any city-run vaccination clinic. The incentive begins on Friday.

The announcement of a new vaccine incentive comes amid increasing concern over the spread of the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus. The Centers for Disease Control announced yesterday that even fully vaccinated people should wear a mask in areas with “substantial or high transmission” of the virus.

According to a map from the CDC, all five of New York City’s counties have “substantial” levels of community transmission, meaning the new recommendations apply in the city.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Monday that city workers must get the vacccine by September 13th or be subjected to weekly COVID-19 testing.

According to data from the Citywide Immunization Registry, 40.8% of New York City residents remain unvaccinated; 59.2% of all residents have received at least one dose.

Insider previously spoke to several top economists who proposed a similar idea — a $1,000 “vaccine stimulus” to combat vaccine hesitancy.

“If we somehow don’t get to true immunity, our economy will be operating with a huge weight on its chest,” Robert Litan, a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who served in the Bill Clinton administration, told Insider in November.

Click this link to locate a vaccination site in New York City.

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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has endorsed civil rights attorney Maya Wiley for New York City mayor

Maya Wiley
New York City mayoral candidate Maya Wiley.

  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has endorsed civil rights attorney Maya Wiley for New York City mayor.
  • In endorsing Wiley, Ocasio-Cortez said that “we need a city by and for working people.”
  • The endorsement could give Wiley a major boost over the other progressive candidates in the race.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, one of the most prominent progressive voices in the country, on Saturday endorsed Maya Wiley in the New York City mayoral race, imploring voters to “come together as a movement.”

For Wiley, a civil rights attorney and former political and legal analyst for NBC News and MSNBC, the seal of approval from Ocasio-Cortez is a significant development as she sought to consolidate progressive voters in the run-up to the June 22 Democratic primary.

In accepting the endorsement, Wiley appeared with Ocasio-Cortez outside of City Hall in Manhattan, where the attorney also served as counsel to Mayor Bill de Blasio from 2014 to 2016.

“If we don’t come together as a movement, we will get a New York City built by and for billionaires, and we need a city by and for working people,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said. “So we will vote for Maya No. 1.”

(New York City is using a ranked-choice system for the first time in a mayoral race; in addition to their first-choice candidate, voters can select additional candidates in descending order.)

For Ocasio-Cortez, who represents New York’s 14th Congressional district, anchored in the eastern section of the Bronx and parts of Queens, it’s a chance to prove her influence among liberal and younger voters in the city.

For Wiley, the thumbs-up could give her a lasting boost over her most direct rivals in the progressive lane, City Comptroller Scott Stringer and Dianne Morales, a former nonprofit executive.

Both Stringer and Morales have faltered in recent weeks over separate controversies.

Still, Wiley will face a set of formidable candidates in a field that includes Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, and Kathryn Garcia, the former sanitation commissioner.

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NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is reportedly ending remote work for 80,000 municipal employees starting in May

Bill de Blasio
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in March 2021.

  • New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is calling New York City employees back to the office.
  • The majority of city operations have been conducted remotely due to the pandemic.
  • Municipal office employees will be asked to return beginning May 3.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

New York City will require some 80,000 municipal workers who have been working from home amid the COVID-19 pandemic back to the office on May 3.

The news was first reported Tuesday by The New York Times. City employees will be called back to their offices beginning the first week of May. The return will be staggered over the course of several weeks, according to internal documents described in the report.

The number is a fraction of the 300,000 workers employed by the city in total. Many employees, like sanitation workers and firefighters, have been unable to work from home during the pandemic. The workers called back include caseworkers, computer specialists, and clerical associates, according to the report.

The office of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment.

Read more: Lady Gaga’s Haus Labs, Goop, Spotify, and Eventbrite join push of nearly 200 businesses lobbying for a national paid leave policy in Biden’s next economic recovery package

The Times reported that vaccinations will not be required for employees returning to the office due to legal concerns. Face masks will not be required but strongly encouraged to be worn at all times, according to the report. One employee familiar with the rules told the Times employees could remove their facial coverings if they were more than six feet from another person.

The plan, as reported by the outlet, suggests growing confidence that new daily diagnosed cases of COVID-19 in New York City will continue to decline as more New Yorkers are immunized for the disease but also comes while the city has one of the highest rates of the disease across the US.

According to a Times analysis, the seven-day average of new cases in the city is more than 8,000, down from an all-time high of 16,000 cases per day earlier this year. About 104 COVID-19 deaths per day have been recorded in New York City over the past week, according to the analysis, down from a peak of 1,300 daily deaths in April 2020.

Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on Monday warned of another “avoidable surge” of the virus resulting from the spreading of new variants of the disease, calling on Americans to “wear a well-fitting mask, socially distance, avoid crowds and travel, and be ready to roll up your sleeve to get vaccinated when the vaccine is available to you.”

According to data released by the New York City Health department Tuesday, more than 937,000 people in New York City have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, receiving either both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or the single-shot Johnson and Johnson vaccine. More than 1.8 million people in New York City have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the data.

New York City was once the US epicenter of the pandemic when the disease first wreaked havoc on the country in March 2020. In total, more than 49,000 people in the state of New York have died from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Businesses, like movie theaters, in the city have slowly been allowed to resume more normal operations for the first time since many closed last year. Schools in the nation’s largest school system have also resumed some more operations, with middle schools reopening to students at the end of February.

President Joe Biden has said every American adult should have access to the vaccine by May 1.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo kept a dartboard with NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s face on it, according to report

cuomo de blasio feud part xvi 2x1
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D).

  • Andrew Cuomo had a dartboard with Bill de Blasio’s face on it in his pool house.
  • The new detail comes from a New Yorker report on Lindsey Boylan, a Cuomo accuser and former staffer.
  • The governor and mayor have been in a well-documented feud for years.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo had a dartboard with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s face on it in the pool house at the governor’s mansion, according to The New Yorker.

This new detail comes from a Ronan Farrow investigation into allegations of sexual harassment and unwanted behavior against Cuomo, primarily told through his first accuser, Lindsey Boylan.

Boylan, a former Cuomo staffer who was introduced to him during her time as chief of staff at the Empire State Development agency, recalled seeing the dartboard at a party hosted at the governor’s residence in Albany.

The timing of the party was not specified, but it would have been sometime between 2016 and 2018 while Boylan was interacting with Cuomo more regularly.

“I couldn’t believe how brazen that was,” she told Farrow.

Cuomo and de Blasio have been in an ongoing feud ever since the mayor took office in 2014, although the pair have known each other ever since they both worked at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) during the Clinton administration.

The feud often involved petty slights and contradictory messaging, but reporting by The New York Times and Wall Street Journal in the fall of 2020 found that their mutual animus and lack of coordination may have cost thousands of lives as COVID-19 ravaged the Big Apple before lockdowns went in place.

When Cuomo shot down de Blasio’s proposal of a “shelter in place” order for the city, the mayor reportedly asked a lawyer in City Hall whether he had the power to remove the governor from office, according to the Journal.

As more allegations emerged in the Cuomo sexual harassment scandal earlier this month, de Blasio called the governor’s alleged behavior “disgusting” and that “he can no longer serve as governor.”

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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio calls sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo ‘disgusting’ and says ‘he can no longer serve as governor’

cuomo de blasio feud part xvi 2x1
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D).

  • New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s resignation on Thursday.
  • “It is disgusting to me, and he can no longer serve as governor,” de Blasio said.
  • Cuomo and de Blasio have long feuded during their Empire State overlap.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday blasted New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo over the string of sexual harassment allegations against him.

“It is disgusting to me, and he can no longer serve as governor,” de Blasio said during a news conference. “It’s as simple as that.”

De Blasio’s comments come after a sixth woman has accused Cuomo of sexual harassment. The Albany Times Union reported on Wednesday that an unnamed female staffer said Cuomo “aggressively groped her in a sexually charged manner” last year after she had been called to the Executive Mansion, his residence, to solve a technology issue. Once there, the governor allegedly closed the door, reached under her shirt and began to fondle her, a source with direct knowledge of the unnamed aide’s claims told the The Albany Times Union.

“It’s deeply troubling,” de Blasio said. “The specific allegation that the governor called an employee of his – someone who he had power over – called them to a private place and then sexually assaulted her is absolutely unacceptable.”

The women who have come forward in the past month have accused Cuomo of sexual harassment, inappropriate workplace behavior, and non-consensual advances while he has been governor and during his tenure as US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under the Clinton administration.

Lawmakers across New York state have urged Cuomo to resign in light of the allegations, but the governor has said he will not step down. Fifty-nine New York Democrats released a joint letter on Thursday calling for his resignation.

In recent weeks Cuomo has also come under attack over his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in nursing homes and safety issues on a billion-dollar bridge the governor named after his father.

Cuomo and de Blasio overlapped during their time at HUD in the Clinton years, but their relationship became publicly toxic over the course of the mayor’s first term.

The Cuomo-de Blasio feud spilled over to New York’s coronavirus response, with the governor often contradicting the mayor hours or even minutes after de Blasio would hold a press briefing.

The mayor also dug into Cuomo in mid-February as the governor’s management style was coming under scrutiny, saying “bullying is nothing new” for Cuomo and that he had received threatening phone calls from him in the past.

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New York City will end business contracts with the Trump Organization after Capitol siege, Mayor de Blasio said

Donald Trump wildcard
US President Donald Trump looks on during a ceremony presenting the Presidential Medal of Freedom to wrestler Dan Gable in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC on December 7, 2020.

  • New York City is ending its business contracts with the Trump Organization, which manages a golf course in the Bronx as well as two ice skating rinks and the carousel in Central Park.
  • “The City of New York will no longer have anything to do with the Trump Organization,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
  • Trump will likely challenge the decision in court, Mark Levine, a Democratic NYC council member, told Insider.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

New York City is ending its business contracts with the Trump Organization following last’s week insurrection at the US Capitol, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday.

The mayor and other political leaders have blamed President Donald Trump for inciting the deadly violence. 

“Inciting an insurrection against the U.S. government clearly constitutes criminal activity,” Blasio told MSNBC. “The City of New York will no longer have anything to do with the Trump Organization,” he added.

The Trump Organization has contracts with New York City to run a city-owned golf course in the Bronx as well as two ice skating rinks and the carousel in Central Park. The Trump Organization makes around $17 million in annual revenue from these contracts, the Washington Post reported, citing Trump’s most recent financial disclosures.

Trump will likely challenge the decision in court, Mark Levine, a Democratic NYC council member, told Insider.

Levine has been pushing the city to make the decision for years, and said it had no legal reasons to delay any further. He called the four businesses run by the Trump Organization a “stain on the city,” and noted that the Trump branding was detracting people from visiting the attractions.

The Trump Organization did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Congress met last Wednesday to certify the result of the US presidential election. Fueled by months of conspiracy theories and baseless allegations of election fraud pushed by President Donald Trump and his backers, rioters stormed the Capitol. Five people died in violence connected to the siege.

Mayor de Blasio said Tuesday the city’s team was assessing options in dealing with the contracts. “We are looking at that very, very carefully and very quickly,” de Blasio had told a press conference Tuesday.

“The president incited a rebellion against the US government – clearly an unconstitutional act, and people died,” he said. “That’s unforgivable.” 

 

Legal experts told the New York Times the city may struggle to end the contracts because of clauses in the agreements determining when they can be cancelled. The city may instead choose to left the contracts expire, the experts said; the agreements for the three Central Park attractions end in April of this year, while the one for the golf course ends in April 2032.

This isn’t the first time the city has looked to cut ties with Trump. In 2015, Blasio tried to end the contracts after Trump called Mexican people “rapists” who bring drugs and crime, but his attempts were unsuccessful.

And branding with Trump’s name was removed from the two skating rinks in 2019, the New York Times reported.

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Homeless parents’ lawsuit forcing New York City to provide WiFi for 114,000 homeless students will head to trial

homeless outside shelter in LA/coronavirus
  • A federal judge advanced a lawsuit to expedite the roll-out of WiFi to homeless shelters across the city.
  • There are more than 114,000 homeless students in New York City. 
  • The class-action suit was filed on behalf of homeless students across the city who have been unable to access the internet in homeless shelters during periods of remote learning this year. 
  • The city provided students with iPads with unlimited cellular data, but many students have had trouble getting proper cell service. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A lawsuit aimed at forcing New York City to provide WiFi for students in homeless shelters is moving forward to trial.

US District Judge Alison Nathan ruled last week that the class-action suit brought by homeless parents and the Coalition of the Homeless would proceed to expedited discovery in preparation for a trial.

“Without internet connectivity, homeless students are deprived of the means to attend classes,” Nathan wrote in the opinion that accompanied the decision. “And because homeless children who lack internet access and reside in New York City shelters cannot attend school for as long as that deprivation exists, the City bears a duty, under the statute, to furnish them with the means necessary for them to attend school.” 

Some homeless students are still unable to access the internet from a shelter more than nine months since Mayor Bill de Blasio first announced remote learning on March 15, 2020 at the start of the coronavirus pandemic lockdown. New York City schools have approximately 114,000 homeless students according to an Advocates for Children report cited by the judge.

The city’s original plan was to provide iPads with unlimited cellular data to students without access to WiFi, first partnering with T-Mobile. After students weren’t able to access T-Mobile service in many shelters, the city switched to Verizon, but some students continued to be unable to connect to school. 

On October 26, 2020 Mayor de Blasio announced that the city would install WiFi in all shelters, but officials cautioned this wouldn’t be complete until the summer of 2021. 

“It should come as no surprise that the City lacked any real legal basis to prevent this lawsuit from proceeding,” said Susan Horwitz, supervising attorney of the education law project at the Legal Aid Society, wrote in a press release.

“Despite months of pushing the City to address the root cause of the problem, City Hall continues to advance ineffective solutions while families in shelters suffer. We look forward to seeing all shelters equipped with working WiFi, far in advance of the city’s stated goal of summer 2021.” 

City officials said they are working to get Wifi to students in shelters.

“The court’s decision indicates that the city has worked hard to provide internet connectivity to the plaintiffs and is continuing to do so,” Paolucci, the spokesperson of New York City’s Law Department, wrote to Law & Crime.

Paolucci has not yet responded to Insider’s request for comment. 

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