(RepublicanInformer.com)- Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot will not be able to enforce her vaccinate mandate for police officers by the December 31 deadline she had set.
On Monday, a Cook County judge suspended that deadline for the time being, but he didn’t stand in the way of the city’s other requirement that police officers be tested for COVID-19 on a regular basis.
The judge, Raymond Mitchell, said the vaccination disputes need to be handled with an arbitrator as a labor grievance. As he said:
“The effect of this order is to send these parties back to the bargaining table and to promote labor peace by allowing them to pursue” other remedies under the law of the state of Illinois. “The principal risk to those who are unvaccinated is to themselves and to others who choose to be unvaccinated.”
According to the city, that process for a grievance could last a few months.
Under Chicago’s policy, any police officer who hasn’t been vaccinated against COVID-19 has to be tested for the virus at least twice each week. Officers who don’t let the city know what their vaccination status is also can lose pay and work as a result.
Thus far, the police department has lagged behind other departments in the city in meeting this requirement for COVID-19 vaccines. As of late, though, their vaccination rates have increased.
On Monday, the city of Chicago released data that showed roughly 73% of the employees of the Chicago Police Department had officially reported their COVID-19 vaccination status. Approximately 80% of the employees who had reported their status said they were fully vaccinated.
Last week, Lightfoot tried to force through her vaccination policy for all city employees. She got a lot of resistance from leaders at the police union, who were not happy with the mandate and weren’t happy that they had to report their vaccination status at all.
The judge in the case, though, said COVID-19 has killed many police officers across the country. Mitchell said:
“In light of that terrible sacrifice, the police unions’ request just to have their grievances heard seems a pretty modest task.”
Alderman Anthony Napolitano, a member of the Chicago City Council, said that it was “a lot more American” to take this dispute through arbitration rather than through the court system. As an ally of the police union, he said:
“Instead of forcing people to do something, you bring it to a conversation and arbitration. This has become too much of a control situation.”
Not every member of Council agrees with that notion, though. Alderman Chris Taliaferro, for instance, said he didn’t believe that the mayor should have to go to the negotiating table with unions for every policy she wants to pass.
He also added:
“In the meantime, I hope those that are not vaccinated really take a deep look and see the good and the science behind this vaccination.”