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City, County Employees Protest COVID-19 Vaccine Rules

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - About 100 City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County employees protesting their vaccine rules, saying they'd rather get fired than vaccinated.

The workers carried signs and chanted on the steps of the City-County Building, saying getting the shot should be a matter of individual choice and they believe the rules are a violation of their rights.

Organizers said it's not a walkout. They said the employees were demonstrating on their free time.

"We are out here on our own free time advocating for liberty for every person in the City of Pittsburgh, for every person in the United States of America. Your rights are given to you by God, and you cannot have them taken by a government through fear if you do not allow them," said Corrections Officer Eric Gumkowski.

In the crowd were city firefighters and police officers — whose unions have filed grievances against the rules — mixed with other city and county workers calling them a violation of their rights and even a threat to their health. County employee Mike Barone said he's scheduled to have open heart surgery and believes the vaccine could be an added risk.

"They're going to fire me with no benefits. In the near future, I'm going to have this open heart surgery with no benefits and if they're willing to do that, that's wrong," he said.

Others said the rally wasn't against vaccination, only in favor of a worker's right to choose not to be.

"I'm vaccinated but I support my co-workers' choice not to get vaccinated. We're complying with all the county mandates to wear masks and be tested every week," said Brian Englert, another county employee.

Several people said they won't be vaccinated even if it means termination.

"I have 45 applications out with other counties and states that believe in liberty with people who will fight for my rights as the government is designed to do," Gumkowski said.

The county order is scheduled to go into effect on Dec. 1 and the city is on Dec. 22.

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