Chicago, IL

Chicago Mayor Warns Unvaccinated Police and City Workers Will Be Put on No-Pay Status Unless Vaccinated by Sunday

Natalie Frank, Ph.D.

Last week an arbitrator refused to reconsider the Chicago Police Union's claims that mayor's mandate violates bargaining agreement

Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot warned city workers including police officers and firefighters that they will be put on no-pay status as of today if they fail to get their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. This came following a major win for the city when the court decided in favor of the mandate last week.

Although this action is non-disciplinary in nature, Lightfoot said she would consider whether disciplinary action should be imposed on a case by case basis.

The Mayor said Friday, "All city employees, including Chicago police officers, who fail to comply may also face disciplinary action, up to and including termination. These decisions will be addressed at an individual and department level, and are being undertaken in a manner that will not impact public safety or the continuity of everyday government operations."

Most other city workers have faced earlier deadlines to receive either the Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but any who haven't received at least their first shot by the end of today will join unvaccinated police officers in having their pay stopped until they are willing to comply with the mandate.

Many predict that as of tomorrow morning there will be thousands of city employees who will no longer receive pay. Lightfoot added that if these workers contineu to refuse to get vaccinated that they could possibly be fired.

By the end of December 2021, over 6600 Chicago Police Officers had filed for religious exemptions to getting the vaccine after the head of the Chicago Police Union, John Catanzara, urged officers not to submit vaccination status information and to file for exemptions. He made good on the threat to take the city to court to prevent Lightfoot pehalizing police over their refusal to get vaccinated. The city counter-sued. Each side claimed the other was negatively impcting public safety. The city and police union have been locked in a legal battle since then until the court ruled last week.

Chicago Fire Captain Robert Tebbens who has been with the Chicago Fire Department for almost 30 years was placed on no-pay status on November 2, 2021 for refusing to report his vaccination status.
He said he made the decision not to do so because of security concerns related to uploading private health information through the online public employee portal.

Tebbens said that the idea of "non-disciplinary, no pay status" is an oxymoron. He also raised the question of why force public employees to get vaccinated now when they've worked without doing so for two years especially given that the number of COVID-19 cases in the city continues to decline.

Along with other city workers, by Monday morning Lightfoot could put over 2,800 police officers on no-pay status. Those who have applied for religious or medical exemptions will not be required to get vaccinated until their cases are ruled on.

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Chicago, IL
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