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Arbitrator Says Chicago Police Officers Must Be Vaccinated

Members of Chicago's Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 are unhappy after its president, John Catanzara, announced that the union lost its legal fight with City Hall over COVID-19 vaccination rules, reports Courthouse News Service. The city's police unions, which operate under the FOP Lodge 7 umbrella have opposed the city's vaccine mandate for municipal employees since Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced them last August. In October, the police unions and the city sued each other over the mandate. The suits petered out in December after the city saw that most officers were complying with the mandate anyway, and after the FOP won an injunction against enforcement of the mandate's punitive measures for its members pending arbitration with the Illinois Labor Relations Board.

An arbitrator released an order this week that police must comply with the mandate or face the consequences the city laid out for noncompliance, up to and including termination. "There are some issues that are still yet to be resolved, but the most important factor is that the arbitrator ruled... we will be forced to get the vaccine," Catanzara said. Some said they believed the ruling would result in a mass exodus of police. "I hope there is a mass exodus of Officers this year, the city will understand when there are no Police for hours!" said an FOP supporter, Victoria Villa. Still, as of this week, with only about 74 percent fully vaccinated, the police force nevertheless remains the least-vaccinated city department. Lightfoot said, "My hope is that with the arbitrator's ruling... that this is going to be the signal for those members who are not yet vaccinated to get vaccinated, ... the number of members that are actually vaccinated continues to inch up." Catanzara may run for mayor next year.


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