In a positive development for anyone opposed to forced vaccination, a Cook County, Illinois judge this week sided with arguments made by the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) and granted a stay on a Dec. 31 deadline by which officers had been required to receive their COVID-19 jabs, as the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
In a written opinion issued on Monday, Judge Raymond Mitchell determined that the city was still free to put unvaccinated officers on no-pay status if they had not reported their shot status by Oct. 15, it could not fire FOP members for failing to meet the Dec. 31 deadline until the union’s arguments can be brought before an arbitrator.
Mitchell declared in his ruling that the case “presents two competing public interests, but one interest need not be scuttled in favor of another. The City’s public health objective and the police union’s desire to pursue their grievances are not wholly irreconcilable.”
Though Mitchell did not disturb the existing requirement that Chicago Police Department officers provide their vaccine status or mandatory weekly testing for the unvaccinated workforce, he did halt the vaccination deadline of Dec. 31 and implored the parties to enter into arbitration on the matter.
In Mitchell’s opinion, “The reporting obligation itself is a minimal intrusion, particularly considering that police officers already are obligated to provide medical information to their employer,” as the Sun-Times noted, but that the hard deadline for receiving the shots was easily distinguishable.
“’Obey now, grieve later’ is not possible,” said Mitchell, with regard to the jabs, adding, “If every union member complied and was vaccinated by December 31…they would have no grievance to pursue and there would be no remedy an arbitrator could award. An award of back pay or reinstatement cannot undo a vaccine. Nothing can.”
In response to the stay on the vaccination deadline, Alderman Anthony Napolitano declared the ruling “a lot more American” than what he sees as the dictatorial edicts coming from Democrat Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
“A lot of people have fought for many, many, many years – way before COVID – for the right to govern their own body. …And that has been completely stripped from city workers. And when it’s done through an executive order, it takes us out as a City Council and it’s a forced ruling,” Napolitano added.
Mitchell’s decision comes on the heels of U.S. District Judge John Lee’s denial of a temporary restraining order requested by Chicago firefighters and other city employees standing in opposition to state and local vaccine mandates, as the Sun-Times reported separately. So at least for now, members of Chicago’s FOP are the only first responders in the city to have secured at least a few more weeks of bodily autonomy while at the same time retaining their jobs.