Judge grants Chicago FOP request for temporary restraining order to block vaccine mandate

As of Monday, 35 Chicago police officers are now on no-pay status
CHICAGO (WLS) -- A Cook County judge gave the FOP a partial victory Monday in granting a temporary restraining order to block a vaccine mandate for union members.

The order blocks the city from firing members of the police union who don't meet the December 31 vaccination deadline until the union's arguments are heard by an arbitrator.

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It was a split decision for the Fraternal Order of Police. While the judge granted the temporary restraining order they were seeking, it leaves in place the vaccine status reporting mandate that the FOP had been fighting to block.

The ruling does not put the vaccine reporting mandate on hold, and Chicago police still face being stripped of their police powers and being put on no-pay status if they refuse to enter their vaccinations status into the city's portal.

"I'm not going to comment on wins or loses as far as the judge's ruling on this serious issue of vaccine mandate," Chicago Police Supt. David Brown said. "But what I will say is we'll proceed with our protocols to get our officers in the portal and to ensure if they're not vaccinated, that we make the case that vaccination saves lives."

The judge refused to block that part of the vaccination mandate, but instead ordered the Fraternal Order of Police and the city to arbitrate the issue of the mandate being a condition of employment.

"He really split the baby on this, and he noted that there were strong competing interests on the side of the police," ABC7 legal analyst Gil Soffer said. "There's the interest of having a union able to enforce a collective bargaining agreement and arbitrary disputes on the side of the city. It's what he called a laudable effort to protect the public health and welfare."

Police officers staged a pair or rallies last week against the mandate, which requires officers, as well as all city workers, to report their vaccination statuses, or be stripped of their police powers and sent home.

Police said as of Monday, 35 officers are now on no-pay status; 73% of the department has complied with the reporting mandate and 80% of those are vaccinated.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot's mandate for city workers to get vaccinated survived a separate court challenge last week. The City Council also voted down a proposal to overturn the mandate.

Lightfoot said Monday that the court ruling validates her mandate.

"If you look at what's happening in court cases all across the country, whether it's fire and police or others that are challenging these mandates, I'm not aware of a single instance in which a mandate put in place has been invalidated," Lightfoot said.

The head of the Fraternal Order of Police claiming a partial victory in a video released on social media.

"Thankfully, Judge Mitchell heard our argument that we've been saying all along," FOP President John Catanzara Jr. said. "This fight was about collective bargaining rights and the obligation for the city to go to the bargaining table and to arbitration."

At a ribbon cutting on the city's Southeast Side, Lightfoot said this court ruling, along with previous ones, is putting the pressure on officers to get in line.

"I think some people were waiting and they were told by FOP in particular, 'we'll win in court,'" Lightfoot said. "Well, as I said, I think John Catanzara, is what, 0 for 8? So at some point people have to recognize this guy doesn't know what he's talking about. He's leading them down the wrong path."

The restraining order will only go into effect for members of the FOP. Other city workers are not covered by the restraining order and the vaccine reporting mandate remains in effect for them.

Brown said the department will continue calling officers in and ordering them to report their vaccination status or face the consequences.

The next step is to get this case before an arbitrator, with both sides accusing the other of stalling. If there is no decision before December 31, the vaccination requirement will be put on hold until the labor issue is settled.

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