SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The Sacramento mayor wants to require all new hires and current city employees to get vaccinated, or face being terminated.

Both proposals are getting major pushback from unions, who say workers have the right to choose.

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Mayor Darrell Steinberg points to skyrocketing COVID cases, mostly among the unvaccinated, as the main reason to push this now.

Also, more and more people in Sacramento are facing this situation at work.

“It is the scenario for the company I work for,” said Jennifer Hitchcock, who works in Sacramento. “If it’s going to be required or if they’re going to kind of push you to do it income-wise they’re taking aware your freedoms.”

With COVID cases surging and emergency rooms filling up again, Mayor Steinberg said it’s time to introduce mandates.

“We are doing so with the utmost urgency to see to it that every one of our city employees gets vaccinated,” he said.

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That includes first responders. Steinberg said just about half of city firefighters are fully vaccinated and less than half of police officers are vaccinated, which is not enough.

“They’re going to be potential, and in fact, real spreaders of the disease,” Steinberg said.

The firefighters union is fighting back, issuing a statement reading, “Local 522 does not oppose the vaccine and does not discourage our members from getting it. We just believe that our members have a right to choose to vaccine or be tested periodically.”

“I could not disagree with you more. Individual choice is not absolute,” Steinberg said. “The public health and safety must always come first.”

Steinberg said passing any official rules will require further negotiations with union representatives.

“I’d rather you all be mad at me than be dead because we’re going to do everything we can to protect the public health and safety,” he said.

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CBS13 asked the mayor if the city is considering requiring vaccination proof at indoor venues like bars and restaurants. San Francisco just did this. The mayor said it’s a possibility but Sacramento is not there yet and still needs to have discussions with local business owners.