CHICAGO - The head of the Chicago police officers union has called on its members to defy the city’s requirement to report their COVID-19 vaccination status by Friday or be placed on unpaid leave.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said all city workers must report their vaccine status to the city by Friday.
She recently announced workers could temporarily opt out if they pay to get tested for COVID-19 twice a week.
The head of the Fraternal Order of Police, John Catanzara, is fighting back, saying the union will file a temporary restraining order on Wednesday.
Catanzara suggested that if the city does enforce its requirement and many union members refuse to comply with it, "It’s safe to say that the city of Chicago will have a police force at 50% or less for this weekend coming up."
"I've made my status very clear as far as the vaccine. But I do not believe the city has the authority to mandate that to anybody, let alone that information about your medical history and change the terms of employment, so to speak, on the fly and you have to comply," Catanzara said.
After Dec. 31, Lightfoot has said that city workers need to be fully vaccinated unless they have received an approved religious or medical exemption.
Police are instructed to enter their information on the city’s mandated vaccine portal.
However, Catanzara told members they don’t have to share that information and the union filed a grievance Wednesday, requesting expedited arbitration.
If city workers don’t comply, they will be sent home on a no-pay status. That could mean a lot of police officers won’t be working as soon as this weekend.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office issued as statement saying, "While the Chicago Police Department is required to report vaccination status or be a part of the regular bi-weekly testing, the City of Chicago continues to bargain in good faith with the Fraternal Order of Police and the Policemen's Benevolent & Protective Association to reach a fair and workable policy that will keep our first responders safe."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.