Honolulu, HI – A group of 1200 first responders are filing a class action lawsuit against a COVID vaccine mandate.

Representatives for Hawaii Union members are taking legal action to attempt to stop the vaccine mandate which goes into effect on August 16. The lawsuit will represent police officers, firefighters and other first responders.

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“They’re just asking for the chance to choose. It’s a personal, autonomous, healthcare decision, and everyone should make their own choice, whether or not they want to take a vaccine or not.” –  Attorney Shawn Luiz

Captain Kaimi Pelekai said that county workers received a letter stating that they had to show proof of vaccination by Monday and the only exceptions would be religious reasons or medical exemptions. If workers do not show proof of being vaccinated they were informed they could lose their jobs.

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“I have to choose between that career that I’m committed to or put in an experimental drug that I don’t know what it’s gonna do to me in my body, or I got to give all that up,” – Capt. Kaimi Pelekai of the Honolulu Fire Department

When the mandate was announced by Governor David Ige he stated that if workers did not get vaccinated they could chose to get tested weekly. However union workers are saying weekly testing presents various problems as well.

“If they can’t prove the testing because they’re waiting for their free tests and they’re going to be home without pay. So it’s almost the same result as being fired. You’re having a large majority of our first responders off the street without pay and being punished,” – Attorney Kristin Coccaro

The city confirmed that they sent the letter and released a statement from the mayor’s office.

“I stand behind the decision to protect City employees, their families and our communities, while also reducing the number of positive COVID-19 cases.” – statement from the Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi

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There are free testing sites for workers to get tested however if those sites are not available for some workers they will have to pay for the test out of their own pocket. Some exceptions will be made for those who have to pay out of pocket.

Multiple unions representing various professions including teachers, professors, firefighters and police say that they encourage individuals to get tested, but feel that the unions should have been consulted first before issuing a mandatory vaccine policy.

This piece was written by Zach Heilman on August 13, 2021. It originally appeared in ThinBlueLineTV.com and is used by permission.

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