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Chicago City Workers Will Be Required To Get Vaccinated If Lightfoot Gets Her Way

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said a COVID-19 vaccine mandate is coming for Chicago's workers — but the Fraternal Order of Police is already promising a fight.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot prepares to receive her second COVID-19 vaccine from Dr. Allison Arwady in Chicago's Gage Park neighborhood on Feb. 19, 2021.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — All city workers will soon be required to get vaccinated against coronavirus, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday.

The announcement isn’t yet official, as details are still being worked out, Lightfoot said at an unrelated news conference. But the mayor said the move will soon be official.

“City employees are absolutely going to be required to be vaccinated. We’re working through those discussions, which have been ongoing now for a couple weeks, with our colleagues in organized labor that represent city employees,” Lightfoot said. “But we absolutely have to have a vaccine mandate. It’s for the safety of all involved, particularly members of the public who are interacting with city employees on a daily basis.

“… A vaccine mandate from the city will come, and we’ll make specific announcements in the coming days.”

The announcement comes the same day as the federal FDA gave full approval to the Pfizer vaccine.

The move spurred various businesses, schools, government agencies and other organizations to require workers to get vaccinated. United Airlines, which is headquartered in Chicago, is mandating workers get fully vaccinated now that a vaccine has gotten full approval.

But at least one union is already pushing back against the mayor’s announcement — the union that represents rank and file police officers.

“We are not just going to to roll over and play dead for the mayor,” John Catanzara, president of the local Fraternal Order of Police lodge, told ABC7. “She’s not going to force this down our throats without a fight. We’ll take it to the courts if necessary.”

The FOP and other unions representing city workers are due to continue negotiations with City Hall Tuesday.

“We thought we had an understanding that we were perfectly fine with the option for our members to decide for ourselves without it being a mandate,” Catanzara said.

Bob Reiter, president of the Chicago Federation of Labor, said “discussions regarding COVID-19 vaccinations are ongoing with the city.”

“We appreciate the City’s willingness to not announce a specific policy while those discussions continue,” Reiter said.

Chicago Public Schools has already mandated all teachers and staff be vaccinated by Oct. 15, but the city has been bargaining with unions over a similar mandate for its workers.

City data shows more than 1.47 million Chicagoans — or 54.7 percent of all residents — are fully vaccinated. About 60.2 percent of all Chicagoans have gotten at least one shot.

The vaccines have been shown to largely prevent serious illness and death from COVID-19.

COVID-19 vaccinations are free and do not require insurance. Anyone can call the city’s coronavirus hotline at 312-746-4835 to get more information on how and where to get vaccinated in their community.

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.

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