News & Politics

A Small Victory for Chicago Police Officers

AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

In a small victory for the Chicago police union, Cook County Judge Raymond Mitchell ordered the arbitrary deadline for Chicago police officers to get vaccinated to be suspended until the two parties are able to reach a deal within the framework of the labor agreement between the city and the union.

The police union had been agitating for the city to negotiate on the mandate, but Mayor Lori Lightfoot had refused. Now a state judge has ordered her to the negotiating table.

Police officers and other department employees must still report their vaccine status. According to the most recent statistics released by the mayor’s office, the police department is lagging behind the rest of the city departments in reporting its status.

Mitchell ruled that the vaccine mandate remains in place.

HeraldOnline:

Police have lagged behind other city departments in meeting the vaccine requirements, but the numbers have been slowly increasing. City data released Monday showed about 73% of Chicago Police Department employees had reported their vaccination status, and about 80% of those employees reported being fully vaccinated.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration announced the vaccine policy weeks ago, drawing sharp objections from police union leaders.

The judge noted that COVID-19 has killed many officers nationwide.

“In light of that terrible sacrifice, the police unions’ request just to have their grievances heard seems a pretty modest task,” Mitchell said.

As for Chicago’s mayor, she doesn’t see the need to negotiate anything.

WTTW:

Mayor Lori Lightfoot told reporters at an unrelated news conference that the police union was “0-8” in efforts to stop the vaccine mandate, and said she hoped more officers agreed to get vaccinated and report their status now that the mandate has been upheld by a Cook County judge and a federal judge, accusing union leaders of misleading officers about the likely fate of those court challenges.

At first, Lightfoot declined to discuss the ruling in detail, telling reporters that city attorneys were still reviewing the part of the order that halted the Dec. 31 deadline for all employees to be fully vaccinated or face discipline. But then Lightfoot pushed back on the judge’s decision to order the city to continue negotating with the police union. Four negotiating sessions took place between Aug. 16 and Oct. 15, Lightfoot said.

“We can not afford to wait any longer to save people’s lives, with all due respect,” Lightfoot said,

You wouldn’t think that Lightfoot’s “sack dance” about the union being “0-8” went over very well with the city’s police force. They already hate her for making an impossible job even harder by imposing a consent decree written by Black Lives Matter, the ACLU, and Soros-backed State’s Attorney Kim Foxx.

It’s a wonder there are any police officers left to patrol the city with the city government so hostile.

“The City’s counsel suggested at oral argument that it might be possible to arbitrate the grievances before December 31, 2021, but that is a matter for the parties to resolve among themselves,” Mitchell wrote in the order. “So, the only remedy left to protect the unions’ right to meaningful arbitration is to stay compliance with the December 31 vaccination requirement until such time as the arbitration is complete.”

This should be a model for other city workers who are faced with a vaccine mandate from politicians who don’t care about their collective bargaining rights. It won’t stop them from being ordered to get vaccinated. But there are bound to be a lot more exemptions and carve-outs if their union is negotiating.

That’s why union president  John Catanzara said after the decision, “Today was a good day,” Catanzara said. “Not a great day, but a good day.”