CHICAGO — Some City of Chicago employees fired over Chicago’s vaccine mandate should be reinstated with backpay, an Illinois Labor Relations Board judge ruled.

The judge found the city didn’t bargain in good faith with unions over its 2021 vaccine mandate for city employees. The order applies to AFCSME Council 31 and the Coalition of Unionized Public Employees, which filed similar charges, arguing the city engaged in unfair labor practices during the pandemic, unilaterally implementing the vaccine mandate.

The board’s administrative judge found Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration didn’t bargain as it should have. The judge ordered the city to reinstate any employee fired because of the vaccination policy and make them whole for the loss of any pay or benefits with 7% interest.

However, the board tells WGN-TV News the decision is not final. The city has 30 days to file an appeal, known as an exemption, before the full board makes a final decision.

Lightfoot’s spokesman called the order “an erroneous decision that does not follow the law, facts or importantly the science” and said “we are currently reviewing the ruling and evaluating next steps.”

That 30-day timeline means the fight could carry over into Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson’s administration. His team did not respond to a request for comment.

An AFSCME spokesman released a statement saying, “by underscoring the employer’s obligation to engage with the union, this strong decision will bolster workers’ rights going forward.”

Other unions, like the Fraternal Order of Police, are watching. The FOP has its own case waiting to be heard by the board. 

FOP Lodge 7 President John Catanzara took an early victory lap in a video posted on YouTube.

“It’s a pretty resounding win,” Catanzara said. “Where does that leave our case? There’s no reason to even have it because they’re all the same issues.”

The Labor Relations Board said, assuming the city files an exemption, a final decision could be expected by July or August.