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Lightfoot Holds Firm on Vaccine Mandate Despite Possible Lawsuit From the FOP

Today is the deadline for city employees to either report their vaccination status or opt for weekly COVID-19 testing. Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Wednesday that city workers can now opt for weekly testing while they arrange to get vaccinated.

Initially, city workers needed to report their vaccination status by today or be placed on unpaid leave. However, the mayor received push back from the Fraternal Order of Police when the mandate was first issued.

The Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara stated that the FOP would take Mayor Lori Lightfoot and her administration to court if the mandate remains in place.

In a statement sent to the city attorney, the FOP vowed that “appropriate litigation will be initiated to preserve the collective bargaining rights of police officers and their unions.”

Catanzara instructed union members to defy the mandate saying, “I do not believe the city has the authority to mandate that to anybody, let alone that information about your medical history.”

He told union members to file for an exemption but did not provide the city with their vaccination status. However, in a press conference held on Wednesday, he seemed unconcerned about a work ban.

“We have a profession that nobody wants to work in. It gives us a little bit stronger position. You can’t lay off or get rid of thousands of cops because you’ll never replace them. We can’t even replace what we’ve got now,” said Catanzara.

Lightfoot responded by holding firm on her stance. “We’ll see what happens. You know, John Catanzara says a lot of things, and a lot of it offensive and racist and foolish, but we’ll see what happens. We’ll be prepared for any eventuality,” Lightfoot responded.

Lightfoot acknowledged that it would take some time to sort through the vaccination information provided by city workers but vowed to enforce the mandate. This morning Lightfoot took legal action of her own. The mayor requested a Cook County judge to prevent Catanzara and  FOP Lodge 7 from blocking the vaccine mandate with threats or a  work stoppage.

Lightfoot released a statement saying, “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.”  She also stated that Catanzara “deliberately misled our police officers” by giving false statements about the mandate and the repercussions for non-compliance.

“Once we understand that people have not complied with the simple request to say yes or no or that I’m going to take the testing option, then yes, we will be moving forward into no-pay status,”  said the mayo5City workers have until 11:59 tonight to comply with the revised mandate. After that, Governor J. B. Pritzker has said he will send in the national guard in the event of a city officer shortage.

 

Paula J. Shelton is a freelance writer and journalist. Find her on

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