By Terri Jo Neff |
Tuesday’s planned Arizona Workers Heroes Freedom March at the State Capitol is attracting national interest, according to event coordinator Merissa Hamilton of EZAZ.org.
Among those slated to speak at the noontime event is Kimball Cody, a firefighter – paramedic fired two months ago by the Salt River Fire Department. Cody’s termination after 13 years of dedicated service was due to his unwillingness receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Similar firings are being threatened by the City of Phoenix for any of its 14,000 employees who do not provide proof of vaccination by Jan. 18, 2022, despite the fact the city told employees in May that vaccinations “are a personal choice that will not impact your employment in any way.”
City Manager Jeff Barton reversed course last month when he issued the mandate that can result in termination. Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich is suing Phoenix officials over the mandate, but it could be months before a federal court reaches a decision.
Leaders of the unions which represent the city’s public safety employees say less than 50 percent of their members intend to comply with the mandate. The worry for many Phoenix residents is that experienced police officers, firefighters, and other critical service employees will seek jobs in other communities.
“Phoenix public safety is already in a crisis,” says Hamilton, a city resident. “Police and Fire are both terribly short-staffed and 911 response times are horrific. The mandate will crush public safety and the most vital city services like trash, water, and infrastructure.”
Some city employees are expected to meet Tuesday morning with a handful of state lawmakers prior to the Heroes Freedom March to discuss the city’s actions, according to Sen. Kelly Townsend (R-LD16).
For Cody, he was one of 84 employees for Salt River FD who were notified in late August of a vaccination mandate imposed by the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community (SRPMIC) tribal council. He then spent the next 40 days reflecting on whether the vaccine was the right thing for him and his family.
“We were really hoping it would be a bluff but there was no letting up,” Cody told radio host James T. Harris on Monday. Cody explained that his two requests for medical exemptions were denied, and Salt River tribal leaders refused to consider religious or spiritual exemptions.
In the end, four firefighters were terminated for non-compliance of a vaccination mandate which was never imposed on tribal members nor the employees of Talking Stick Resort and Casino which is also owned by SRPMIC.
KIMBALL CODY INTERVIEW:
Cody, who lives in east Mesa, told Harris he is speaking at the Heroes Freedom March to help Arizonans understand the negative impacts vaccine employment mandates are having.
“This mandate is real. My wife interacts with your wife. My kids go to school with your kids,” Cody said. “This is not a mandate in California or New York or some far away land. This is a mandate that is effecting real people right here and right now.”
Cody also wants to encourage Arizonans to contact Gov. Doug Ducey and their state legislators with a demand for a special session to enable passage of anti-mandate legislation.
Hamilton says EZAZ.org is hoping for legislation or court action against all vaccination mandates in Arizona before Christmas. “Families deserve to have this mandate put to rest so they can enjoy the holidays without worry,” she told AZ Free News.