Vaccination warrant confirmed for Chicago police officers | Chicago News

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Chicago police officers must be vaccinated against COVID-19, an umpire ruled Wednesday, handing Mayor Lori Lightfoot a meaningful victory.

This decision means that all Chicago employees must be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The decision should serve as a “signal for members who are not yet vaccinated to get vaccinated,” Lightfoot said after Wednesday’s city council meeting.

The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7, led by President John Catanzara, began an intense and public fight against Lightfoot’s order, which it first issued in August. Originally slated to take effect on December 31, the fight has dragged on into 2022 amid relentless opposition from the police union.

Members of the police union have until March 13 to receive the first dose of the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines and until April 13 for the final dose or the single-shot Johnson and Johnson vaccine, according to the decision of referee George Roumell.

“There is no language in any of the (agreements) that would prohibit the exercise of management rights by enacting a Covid-19 vaccine mandate,” Roumell wrote.

Catanzara did not respond to a request for comment from WTTW News on Wednesday afternoon.

However, late Wednesday Catanzara posted a You Tube video and acknowledged officers would be ‘forced to get vaccinated’ and called Lightfoot a ‘dictator’. Catanzara said he plans to run for mayor of Chicago in 2023.

The vaccine mandate sparked a lawsuit dueling between the city and its police union. The city won a judge’s order that temporarily prevented Catanzara from telling union members to refuse to report their vaccination status to the city before the matter went to arbitration.

In October, Catanzara unsuccessfully pushed the Chicago City Council to rescind the vaccine mandate. Opponents of the warrant have warned it could worsen crime in Chicago at a time when murders, carjackings and other crimes are skyrocketing.

More than 25% of the Chicago Police Department’s 12,366 members have told city officials they were unvaccinated or have refused to release this information. This leaves 3,174 officers at risk of being sanctioned or fired, according to city data.

Six Chicago police officers have died of COVID-19 and more than 6,000 have contracted the virus, according to Roumell’s ruling.

In December, Roumell ruled that all employees represented by the Chicago Fire Union Local 2, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 21, l Service Employees International Union, Local 73, Teamsters Local 700, and COUPE Unions.

The move required those employees to be fully vaccinated by Jan. 31 or risk being fired. City officials declined to say how many employees were laid off due to the vaccination mandate.

Contact Heather Cherone: @HeatherCherone | (773) 569-1863 | [email protected]


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