Chicago has enacted a vaccine mandate for city employees that will lead to “consequences” for workers not fully vaccinated by October 15, according to an injunction laid down by Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
The Chicago Tribune has reported that the mayor and the Fraternal Order of Police disagree about whether the mandate affects police department officers and employees who are members of the union. The city is reportedly in continuing negotiations with the league about the new vaccine rules.
The police union has taken the position in a statement that the October 15 deadline will only apply to COVID testing, and no member’s compensation or benefits will be affected. The statement adds that vaccination status will be voluntary and self-reported.
The last day to get the previous vaccine shot needed for compliance by the city’s deadline was last Friday.
Meanwhile, Lightfoot has said that union members would not receive any special treatment. She told the press last week that all city employees would have to be vaccinated. She said it was “foolish” that four police officers had died of COVID. The mayor said that police union members “will be vaccinated.”
The mayor did not give specific details of what she meant by “consequences” for unvaccinated police department employees, only saying that “further steps” would be taken. Lightfoot said that she hopes that all city workers will voluntarily comply by the deadline and that she is a believer in “accountability.”
According to Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady, the city will have testing procedures and standards for employees who have not been wholly vaccinated by the deadline. That position appears to conflict with the mayor’s insistence that only proof of complete vaccination would be accepted.
Bob Reiter, president of the Chicago Federation of Labor, said that the various city officials should make an effort to be consistent in messaging regarding city policy. Reiter added that his union had not yet approved the city’s vaccine mandate for employees.