(Bloomberg) -- Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Thursday stood by a mandate requiring city employees to submit their Covid-19 vaccination status by Friday, extending her standoff with the police union head who has told officers not to follow the requirement.
The city is requiring that employees report their vaccination status by Friday and those who don’t will be placed in a non-disciplinary, no-pay status, according to an emailed statement from the mayor’s office on Oct. 8. John Catanzara Jr., the president of Fraternal Order of Police Chicago Lodge #7, has urged members not to report their vaccination status on the city’s employee portal. He said this week that the union was considering legal action to stop the mandate.
Lightfoot, flanked by several leaders of city departments, said during a press conference Thursday that she’s not afraid of lawsuits because the city has the law on its side. She and officials from the police department on Thursday also said they are not concerned about a shortage of police officers or public safety for this weekend following the reporting deadline. The city does have contingency plans and could turn to the state police and other resources if needed, she said. Lightfoot declined to provide further details. Catanzara has suggested that the police department may not be fully staffed given the reporting requirement.
“Our workers are either in communities directly interacting with our residents or helping residents and working alongside their co-workers,” Lightfoot told reporters. “The health of our city workers directly impacts the health of everyone that they interact with, and I believe in leading by example.”
The pushback from the police union comes even after the city extended its vaccination deadline. The clash in Chicago is among several playing out nationally between employers and workers over getting the jabs as well as reporting what some argue is private, medical information.
Read more: Vaccine Mandates Withstand Challenges as Suits Surge Across U.S.
This vaccine policy is about saving lives, Lightfoot said, noting the efficacy Covid-19 vaccines have shown in preventing hospitalizations and deaths. The city’s vaccination numbers will be released next week.
In August, the city said employees would need to receive a shot by Oct. 15, but last week extended that deadline to Dec. 31 and said regular testing would be required through the end of the year for those who are not vaccinated by Oct. 15. The requirements apply to anyone who doesn’t have a medical or religious exemption. Employees have to do the tests on their own time and at their own expense, according to the city.
The Fraternal Order of Police on its website had provided forms for members to fill out to seek religious, conscientious and medical exemption.
“Hold the line,” Catanzara said in a video posted on the union’s website earlier this week.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.