Judge suspends City of Chicago's order that all cops be vaccinated by the end of the year

Chicago's police unions won a big, but still only partial victory yesterday as Judge Raymond W. Mitchell issued an order suspending enforcement of the city's mandate that police officers be vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of the year.  The city's police unions, led by Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7's head John Catanzara, had been involved in a bitter public dispute with Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

Judge Mitchell's ruling to suspend the mandate made a key point about the vaccine mandate: that once carried out, it cannot be undone.  It also affirmed that the mandate is covered by the collective bargaining agreement between the city and the unions and that the contractual arbitration process must move forward to provide resolution to the dispute.

The ruling does not affect other city employees covered by the mandate.

Patrick Smith and Mariah Woelfel of WBEZ report that despite the victory, the city can still enforce its requirement that officers report their vaccination status, which had been a key point of union resistance.

About 58% of the city's police force has reported being vaccinated against COVID-19, according to city data. However, about 27% of officers still have not reported their vaccination status at all.

Up until now, much of the public fight over Chicago's vaccination policy has been over the reporting requirement. John Catanzara, the head of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, has vocally opposed the requirement that all workers share whether or not they are vaccinated against COVID-19, calling it an invasion of privacy and a violation of the police contract.

Catanzara repeatedly called for officers to "hold the line" and refuse to share their vaccination status with the city. However, the majority of FOP members went against his wishes and updated their status.

Catanzara said that did not mean officers had largely rejected his strident messaging. Instead, he said he believes most of the union members who did comply had already done so before he started his near-daily calls for disobedience near the end of October.

"There's still over 3,000 members not in the [vaccine] portal," Catanzara said at a press conference outside of police headquarters last week. "No one's stopping them from [sharing their status] voluntarily. They're intentionally not complying with the portal request and demand period. I think that's unity."

Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown said on Monday that 35 officers had been stripped of their police powers for refusing a direct order to provide their vaccination status.

Mitchell's ruling Monday moves the conversation forward toward the much bigger vaccination deadline of Dec. 31. His order brushed aside the union's complaints about reporting, calling the requirement "a minimal intrusion" that could be remedied later if an arbiter found the requirement violated the city's contracts with its police officers.

While Chicago can continue to suspend cops for failing to report their vaccine status, if it wishes to, the city may be able to avoid a catastrophic reduction in the number of cops on the street, opening the door to lawless anarchy in a city now notorious worldwide for its violent crime.

In New York City, where a vaccine mandate went into effect Monday, the number of firefighters on duty has shrunk to critically low levels.  NBC News reports:  

More than 2,000 New York City firefighters have taken medical leave in the past week as unvaccinated municipal workers face the start of sanctions Monday.

Frank Dwyer, deputy commissioner of the New York City Fire Department, said by email that the number of firefighters on medical leave was "very unusual." The department employs roughly 11,000 firefighters.

A senior city official briefed on the vaccination data says that over half of the firefighters who have called out sick have never received a single dose of the vaccine.

Unfortunately, the practical merits of vaccine mandates don't seem to be the subject of any judicial review at the moment.  The theory that unvaccinated people present a danger to the public or to their vaccinated colleagues does not seem to hold water.

People who have received COVID-19 vaccinations are able to spread the delta variant within their household despite their vaccination status just as easily as unvaccinated individuals, a new study published on Friday shows.

According to the study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal, people who contracted COVID-19 had a similar viral load regardless of whether they had been vaccinated. The study further found that 25 percent of vaccinated household contacts contracted COVID-19. while 38 percent of unvaccinated individuals were diagnosed with the disease.

Researchers examined 621 symptomatic participants in the United Kingdom over a year.

In fact, at best, vaccines operate as therapeutics, lessening the symptoms and therefore potential lethality of a COVID infection.  This places them in the same category as ivermectin, hydroxychloroquine, and quercetin, drugs that have been around much longer and whose side-effects are known to be minimal, whereas the mRNA gene therapies mislabeled as vaccines have undergone no long-term testing and are sparking large numbers of adverse events posted to the VAERS database.

I confess that I am feeling a bit of whiplash, in that I fully support the union side in this despite decades of opposition to unions — ever since I was forced to cough up large sums of money to corrupt unions in order to be able to work summer jobs in a unionized factory during college.  That said, I have also always been on the side of basic human rights and have sympathized with the early days of unionism, when truly awful working conditions and low pay were often imposed by large companies.  It has mainly been postwar unions that became wealthy and corrupt, in some cases driving entire industries — steel and auto manufacturing come to mind — into decline and loss of share to overseas competitors.  And especially public employee unions, where both sides of the bargaining table tend to be influenced by the unions.

But it is clear to me that the unions protecting the bodily sovereignty of their members are fighting the righteous battle, and I am with them 100%.

Photo credit: screen grab of PDF document.

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