On Wednesday, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who has been conducting a war of words with members of the largest local police union for some time and had filed a lawsuit against the union in October over her vaccine mandate, dropped the lawsuit after a judge had suspended her December 31 deadline for officers to report their vaccination status by October 15 or be put on “no-pay status.”
On October 15, Lightfoot released a statement announcing the lawsuit:
Yesterday, at my direction the City of Chicago’s law department filed a Complaint for Injunctive Relief against the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 and its President John Catanzara for engaging in, supporting, and encouraging a work stoppage or strike.
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. 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. Notably Catanzara has urged officers to reject the City’s vaccine policy and has repeatedly instructed police officers to refuse to comply with the City’s lawful directive which requires all City employees to report their COVID 19 vaccination status by October 15. By doing so, and by predicting that 50% or more officers will violate their oaths and not report for duty, Catanzara is encouraging an unlawful strike and work stoppage which carries the potential to undermine public safety and expose our residents to irreparable harm, particularly during an ongoing pandemic.
This action is brought pursuant to the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act and Illinois common law which prohibits sworn officers from engaging in a strike. Additionally, the City and the FOP are parties to a collective bargaining agreement that establishes the terms and conditions of employment including Article 5 which includes a No Strike Commitment.
The judge blocked Chicago “from firing members of the police union who don’t meet the December 31 vaccination deadline until the union’s arguments are heard by an arbitrator,” ABC 7 reported on November 1.
On Wednesday, Lightfoot claimed that she dropped the lawsuit because more officers had complied with her mandate, saying, “The past few weeks have shown what I have said from the beginning to be true: that our brave police officers are smarter than their FOP leadership, and care more about their city, their fellow Chicagoans, and upholding their sworn oath to protect and serve, than they do Catanzara’s frivolous demands to stop working,” as Newsweek noted.
She also warned she would go back to court if the union or Catanzara “take any further action toward encouraging an illegal work stoppage or strike.”
“So far this year, the city has seen 739 murders, a 3 percent increase from last year’s already elevated figure and a 60 percent jump from 2019. Shootings are up 9 percent and 66 percent from 2020 and 2019 respectively,” The Daily Mail pointed out.