More than 20 Chicago Labor Unions File Legal Challenge Against Mayor Lightfoot’s Vaccine Mandate

lori lightfoot
Anthony Vazquez/Chicago Sun-Times via AP, File

Twenty-three labor unions filed a complaint against Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s coronavirus vaccine mandate in the hopes of a judge suspending the deadline, the Chicago Tribune reported on Tuesday.

The plaintiffs, which include Service Employees International Union Local 1, Chicago Journey Plumbers Local 130, and Teamsters Local 700, filed the complaint in Cook County Circuit Court and are “seeking the same deadline suspension that a judge granted Chicago police officers.” According to the report:

They are seeking an injunction to force arbitration over Lightfoot’s vaccination policy — and pause the Dec. 31 deadline for city workers to get fully vaccinated until the matter is resolved — because of what they describe as a violation of their collective bargaining rights.

On November 1, Cook County Judge Raymond Mitchell said the city will not be able to fire police officers until Chicago’s Fraternal Order of Police have their arguments heard by an arbitrator. The city can still place police officers on unpaid leave for failing to abide by the city’s vaccine mandate.  Chicago Fraternal Order of Police president John Catanzara previously estimated that approximately 3,200 officers are defying the city’s coronavirus vaccine reporting mandate, “about a third of the department,” he told CBS 2.

The report continued:

The complaint filed Friday by the 23 unions says Mitchell’s ruling “addressed the identical question of irreparable harm” that the vaccination mandate would inflict on the bargaining units, which have filed labor grievances against the city over the policy. It argues that a suspension of the Dec. 31 deadline is necessary or else it will be too late to “undo the harm” caused by obeying the requirement to get vaccinated.

According to the petition, the city has “eroded the morale of employees in the Plaintiff Union bargaining units.”

“The City’s unilateral action has diminished support for the Plaintiff Unions as the exclusive bargaining representatives for the employees in their respective bargaining units,” the petition reads.

Lightfoot mandated that all city employees report their vaccination status by October 15 , “which thousands, mostly first responders, did not do.” They are also required to be fully vaccinated by December 31 or, as an alternative, be tested regularly for the virus for the remainder of the year.

According to the report, nearly 90 percent of city employees have reported their vaccination statuses as of Monday. Ninety-three percent of the fire department and 78 percent of the police department have complied with the mandate. Seventy-two percent of all city employees reported being fully vaccinated.

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