CHICAGO — Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Friday filed a complaint against the police union as the deadline for City of Chicago workers to submit their vaccination status approaches. In court Friday, FOP President John Catanzara was temporarily barred from publicly commenting on the issue.
The Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara has been outspoken against the mandate and has encouraged officers not to comply.
In the court hearing Friday evening, Judge Cecilia Horan said Catanzara is barred from making public statements on the issue until the next court hearing — which is scheduled for Oct. 25.
“My ruling is going to be that he should not make public statements that encourage his members to reject or refuse to comply with the city’s vaccination policy,” she said.
He can talk about the issue in private, but cannot go on social media anymore or television. The judge wants the city to come to an agreement this weekend ahead of the next court hearing.
During the court hearing, an attorney for Catanzara said the FOP president is vaccinated, despite his opposition to the mandate.
After the court hearing, Catanzara took to YouTube to say officers “need to do what’s in their hearts and minds.” He then criticized Chicago leadership and announced his candidacy for mayor in 2023.
Earlier Friday, Lightfoot issued a statement saying the city’s law department filed a complaint for injunctive relief against the FOP and FOP President John Catanzara for “engaging in, supporting, and encouraging a work stoppage or strike.”
She issued the following statement:
Yesterday, at my direction the City of Chicago’s law department filed a Complaint for Injunctive Relief against the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 and its President John Catanzara for engaging in, supporting, and encouraging a work stoppage or strike.
As Chicago’s Mayor, I cannot and will not stand idly by while the rhetoric of conspiracy theorists threatens the health and safety of Chicago’s residents and first responders. President Catanzara has time and again deliberately misled our police officers by lying about the requirements of the policy and falsely claiming that there will be no repercussions if officers are insubordinate and refuse to follow a City and Department directive or order. Notably Catanzara has urged officers to reject the City’s vaccine policy and has repeatedly instructed police officers to refuse to comply with the City’s lawful directive which requires all City employees to report their COVID 19 vaccination status by October 15. By doing so, and by predicting that 50% or more officers will violate their oaths and not report for duty, Catanzara is encouraging an unlawful strike and work stoppage which carries the potential to undermine public safety and expose our residents to irreparable harm, particularly during an ongoing pandemic.
This action is brought pursuant to the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act and Illinois common law which prohibits sworn officers from engaging in a strike. Additionally, the City and the FOP are parties to a collective bargaining agreement that establishes the terms and conditions of employment including Article 5 which includes a No Strike Commitment.
Catanzara said he believes about half of its members will not comply with the mandate and has been encouraging about 8,000 members not to submit their vaccine status, putting pressure on the mayor to choose between the city’s safety and enforcing a mandate they oppose. The issue has been brewing for the past week.
On Friday morning, Catanzara appeared on Fox and Friends and said he believes he holds the power in this high stakes public safety showdown.
“We have a profession no one wants to do right now,” Catanzara said. “They can not get anyone to go into academy. Here she is vilifying police once again.”
On YouTube Thursday night, the FOP president told members the union’s pressure is working.
“The city blinked a little bit here and backtracked and everyone will be getting paid,” he said.
However, Lightfoot doesn’t see it that way. Instead, she said it may just take a few days before an officer’s status is known.
“Our expectation is that they will comply,” the mayor said. “Anything less would be in subornation.”
All city employees, including officers, are required to submit their vaccination status into a city portal by the end of the day on Friday. If they are not vaccinated, they must submit to biweekly testing on their own time and own dime, or they could be placed on non-paid status.
“We must fulfill our mission and that is our duty as professional police officers. It is our expectation that all officers will comply with the mandate,” First Deputy Supt. Eric Carter said.
Catanzara said the mandate is illegal.
“It’s the same as the mayor saying you have to do it,” Catanzara said. “Refuse that order. Get it on bodycam.”
The FOP believes half its members will not comply leaving the city with a depleted department.
The details to the COVID-19 vaccine compliance procedures can be seen below: