Judge: Unvaccinated Chicago police can’t face consequences before arbitration
A judge has ruled that Chicago cannot enforce its Dec. 31 vaccine mandate deadline until the policy has been arbitrated with police unions.
The order from Judge Raymond Mitchell for the Circuit Court of Cook County allows the city to continue to place officers on no-pay status if they have defied Chicago’s vaccine status reporting requirement, but says a policy that set a end-of-year deadline for additional penalties can no longer be enforced, The Chicago Tribune reported.
Chicago’s COVID-19 vaccine policy mandated that all city employees report their vaccination status by Oct. 15 and get fully vaccinated by Dec. 31. Workers who are still unvaccinated must undergo weekly testing until then.
Mitchell’s decision was issued in response to a lawsuit brought by the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) challenging the city’s vaccine reporting requirement. According to the Tribune, Mitchell ruled that the city’s argument that the FOP already has a mechanism for grievances was not sufficient.
In his ruling he wrote that “Obey now, grieve later’ is not possible” when it came to the Dec. 31 deadline.
“If every union member complied … they would have no grievance to pursue and there would no remedy an arbitrator could award. An award of back pay or reinstatement cannot undo a vaccine. Nothing can,” he wrote.
In mid-October, Chicago began placing officers with unreported vaccine statuses on no-pay status.
Citing court records, the Tribune reported that 32 Chicago police officers were placed on no-pay status after failing to meet the Oct. 15 deadline to report their vaccine status. Five of those officers later complied with the requirement.
Chicago is also currently suing FOP President John Catanzara for allegedly lying to union members about the consequences they face if they defy the vaccine requirements on city employees.
“President Catanzara has time and again deliberately misled our police officers by lying about the requirements of the policy and falsely claiming that there will be no repercussions if officers are insubordinate and refuse to follow a City and Department directive or order,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) said last month.
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