Mayor Lori Lightfoot defends Chicago vaccine mandate for city workers

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is defending her vaccine mandate decision for all city workers.

"This is not a nice notion, this is an urgent crisis that we have to address," the mayor said Friday morning.

She answered questions about the mandate for the first time Friday since she made the surprise announcement earlier this week.

Lightfoot doubled down saying that it will be a condition of employment, making it clear that she will require all city workers to be fully vaccinated by October 15 or they will be fired.

The decision comes as discussion continues with various unions.

The four police unions said they are not happy about the mandate and are not planning to go down without a fight.

Lightfoot said that while she understands some of the concerns city workers may have about the vaccine, she is still going to require it.

"Let's be clear. We always want to engage with our unions on any issue that's going to affect their members, and certainly their workplace, but it's a condition of employment," Lightfoot said.

Leaders from the four police unions huddled Friday afternoon to discuss options.

"The mayor saying the option to be tested weekly, which the governor will offer for educators and health care workers under his mandate, will not be on the table for city workers," said one union leader.

"But to be clear, testing is a point-in-time indicator of where you are. It's not a substitute for the vaccine, it just isn't," Lightfoot said.

The mayor said it's critically important for workers to be vaccinated to create a safe work environment for fellow employees and the general public that they interact with.

However, despite encouraging Chicagoans for months to get their shots, the mayor conceded that not all of her own staff members are vaccinated.

"They have to be vaccinated, there's no room there. You can't, we have to lead by example," the mayor said. "We have to make sure that our folks are vaccinated."

The mayor said she does not want the vaccine mandate to be seen as a punitive thing, but for some, that's exactly what's it's perceived to be and why police unions are considering legal action.
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