A Cook County judge has temporarily blocked the implementation of a vaccine mandate against Chicago police officers until arbitration occurs with police unions.
The city of Chicago, currently run by leftist Democrat mayor Lori Lightfoot, had implemented a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all city employees, ensuring that all of them report their vaccination status by October 15th, and then have received both shots by December 31st this year.
However, the vaccine mandate faced stiff resistance from Chicago police officers. While around 7,500 officers declared they had been fully vaccinated, around 1,900 instead declared that they were not, with another 3,000 refusing to report their vaccine status. This left the police with a 73% report rate, the lowest percentage of any section of city employees.
Police unions in the city stood strong and encouraged their members to resist the vaccine order from Lightfoot. John Catanzara, the head of the largest union, said that the mandate is “the city’s clear attempt to force officers to ‘Chicken Little, the sky is falling’ into compliance,” telling his members not to fall for it and “hold the line.”
Catanzara slammed the mandate as an invasion of privacy and a violation of contract, comparing the behavior of the city to “Nazi Germany.” He has also continued to post videos on the union’s YouTube channel with a similar message, in defiance of a court order. (READ MORE: Chicago Judge Strips Mother Of Parental Rights Because She Hasn’t Taken COVID Vaccine)
On Monday, the police unions saw their first victory against the city of Chicago, when Judge Raymond Mitchell of Cook County ruled that the vaccine mandate as currently implemented would result in the infringement of the rights of officers as unionized employees.
Until arbitration takes place between the police and the city, the vaccine mandate cannot come into effect, as if any arbitrator ruled against the city, an officer who was forced into taking the vaccine would have no recourse. “An award of back pay or reinstatement cannot undo a vaccine,” Judge Mitchell argued. “Nothing can.”
However, the unions did not receive a full victory in Mitchell’s judgement, with the city’s requirement to report the vaccination status remaining in place, describing it as a “minimal intrusion” that could later be changed under mediation. So far, 30 police officers have been removed from their post by Chicago authorities for not reporting their vaccine status. All police officers who are not vaccinated will also still be required to take coronavirus tests twice a week.