John Catanzara says police union will fight vaccine mandate in court

Coronavirus

CHICAGO – The head of the Chicago police union says he will fight the city’s vaccine mandate in court. 

The city has set an Oct. 15 deadline for all city workers to be fully vaccinated. Still, the head of the Fraternal Order of Police has resisted the vaccine mandate, telling rank-and-file officers not to comply.

FOP President John Catanzara said the union would file for a temporary restraining order Wednesday to put the deadline on hold in a video to members. 

“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.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said city employees not fully vaccinated by Friday must be tested twice a week – on their own time and expense – or be placed on what she described as “no pay status.”

The union says the city must bargain over what it calls “new workplace conditions.”

“The reality is the city acknowledged from the beginning their obligation to bargain in good faith over this subject,” Catanzara said. “They have refused.”

In a statement, the city says it continues to bargain in good faith with the police union as it seeks to reach an agreement. 

ACLU of Illinois Director of Public Policy and Communication Ed Yohnka told WGN vaccine mandates do not violate civil liberties and cited decades of court precedents upholding them.    

“The idea that we’re even fighting about this after 700,000 Americans have lost their lives really just doesn’t hold or stand up to any kind of test,” Yohnka said.

Police, more than any other group, should embrace the vaccine, Yohnka added.

“A police officer can actually initiate contact with someone on the street. A police officer has the power to pull someone over make them roll down their window,” Yohnkasaid. “Of all of the people who ought to be concerned that those activities are not spreading the disease among the public or affecting police officers, it ought to be police.”

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