Chicago Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara spoke out on Tuesday to urge officers in his city to ignore Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s (D) mandates that they report their vaccination status.
Catanzara said that the FOP already has a class-action grievance drafted to cover “everything under the sun” that police officers might lose if they refuse to get vaccinated against COVID-19, including pay and benefits. This came after Lightfoot’s office announced that city employees who fail to report their vaccination status by Friday will be placed in a “non-disciplinary, no-pay status.”
However, Catanzara fired back by urging officers to file exemptions to receiving the vaccine, but not to enter any information into the vaccine portal that is mandated by the city, according to The Chicago Sun Times.
“Do not fill out the portal information,” Catanzara told union members in a video posted to YouTube. “I’ve made my status very clear as far as the vaccine, but I do not believe the city has the authority to mandate that to anybody let alone that information about your medical history.”
When asked for a comment on the video, Lightfoot’s spokesperson said that they had “no statement” at this time.
In his video, Catanzara went on to tell FOP members to file vaccine exemption forms to the city “no earlier” than Thursday, which is the day before Lightfoot’s deadline. Forms for religious or medical exemptions have been posted on the FOP’s website.
Should officers refuse to fill the city’s vaccine portal as Catanzara is suggesting they do, the Chicago police force will be at “50% or less” this weekend, something that he blamed on the mayor’s “unwillingness to budge.”
“This is very clearly not a job action, not a call for a strike,” Catanzara said.
Catanzara then explained that officers who are under no-pay status still receive insurance benefits for 30 days after the “non-disciplinary” suspension. This means that the officers’ pensions will be pushed back in accordance to how long they are under no-pay status, which Catanzara said is something the union plans to rectify in court as part of the class-action grievance.
“I can guarantee you that no-pay status will not last more than 30 days,” Catanzara said in his video. “There’s no way they’re going to be able to sustain a police department workforce at 50% capacity or less for more than seven days without something budging.”
We will update you further as this story develops.