Democratic Mayor of Chicago Lori Lightfoot and police unions in the city are taking their grievances to court in combatting lawsuits over the city’s vaccine mandate requirements.
As reported by the Chicago Tribune:
Lightfoot is asking the courts to intervene after the union chief told members to disobey Friday’s deadline to report their vaccine status. The local Fraternal Order of Police said on Twitter it had filed its own lawsuit against the city, mayor and police Superintendent David Brown that seeks to force arbitration over the matter.
“As Chicago’s Mayor, I cannot and will not stand idly by while the rhetoric of conspiracy theorists threatens the health and safety of Chicago’s residents and first responders,” Lightfoot said in a statement Friday morning.
She said Fraternal Order of Police Chicago Lodge #7 (FOP) President John 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.”
Lightfoot is claiming that the president is “engaging in, supporting, and encouraging a work stoppage or strike.”
The city’s legal filing reportedly states, “If Catanzara and the FOP are allowed to continue with these extortionate demands … the City will be faced with an unlawful and untenable Hobson’s Choice: either exempt the FOP membership from complying with reasonable and necessary directives needed to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and thereby jeopardize the health and safety of both CPD employees and citizens with whom they interact, or be left without a police force sufficient to keep the peace and combat the pandemic of violent crime plaguing the City.”
The Tribune added:
In its own filing, the local FOP is asking the court to order the city to engage in arbitration over the vaccine reporting requirement, claiming it’s a new condition of employment improperly imposed without collective bargaining.
Police union lawyers also filed a motion to dismiss the city’s suit, arguing in part that officers’ refusal to disclose their vaccination status does not pose a “clear and present danger” to the public’s health and safety.
The outlet noted, “State law and the FOP contract both prohibit striking by Chicago police.”
Lightfoot also reportedly said the president was trying to “induce an insurrection” through his actions, saying that “[i]t is an illegal strike” and Catanzara “is encouraging officers to be insubordinate, not to follow directives…”
ABC 7 Chicago reported, “The FOP and three other police unions filed a countersuit accusing the city of violating their collective bargaining rights.”
The FOP tweeted:
A Verified Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief has been filed by @FOP7Chicago in the Chancery Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County.
— Fraternal Order of Police – Chicago Lodge #7 (@FOP7Chicago) October 15, 2021
“I just want to be very clear: this union never called for a strike or a job action. We told our officers to continue to go to work. It was a city that was threatening to lock out our officers for not complying with an improper directive,” said Catanzara.
As Fox News reported, “On ‘Fox & Friends,’ Catanzara estimated about half of his officers have been vaccinated, but he said even those who have received the vaccine agree that a mandate is wrong.”
“Everything from this mayor is a dictatorship,” he said. “She just decided she was going to do it and push it on the entire city workforce across the board.”
As reported by ABC News, officers must report their immunization status by Friday. “Under the mandate, all city employees must submit their vaccination status by the end of the workweek. Unvaccinated workers who refuse to submit to semiweekly testing will be placed on unpaid leave,” the outlet noted.
Catanzara reportedly said that officers shouldn’t “fill out the portal information,” but they should input requests for exemptions.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported:
The union president said that the FOP already has a class-action grievance drafted to cover “everything under the sun” that police officers might lose if they refuse to get vaccinated, including pay and benefits.
“I’ve made my status very clear as far as the vaccine, but I do not believe the city has the authority to mandate that to anybody, let alone that information about your medical history,” Catanzara said in the video, later adding, “Hold the line.”
“It’s safe to say that the city of Chicago will have a police force at 50% or less for this weekend coming up,” he noted.
“I can guarantee you that no-pay status will not last more than 30 days,” Catanzara reportedly said. “There’s no way they’re going to be able to sustain a police department workforce at 50% capacity or less for more than seven days without something budging.”
He pressed back against the actions of Mayor Lightfoot, saying, “This could have all been avoided, but it literally has been like everything else with this mayor for the last two and a half years: ‘Do it or else. Because I said so.’ Well, we say otherwise.”