CHICAGO (AP) — A judge on Monday suspended a Dec. 31 deadline for Chicago police officers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 but didn’t interfere with a requirement that they be regularly tested.
Disputes over vaccinations should be submitted to an arbitrator as a labor grievance, Cook County Judge Raymond Mitchell said.
“The effect of this order is to send these parties back to the bargaining table and to promote labor peace by allowing them to pursue” remedies under Illinois law, Mitchell said.
Officers who haven’t been vaccinated still must be tested twice a week under city policy. Officers also can lose work and pay if they don’t disclose their vaccine status.
“The principal risk to those who are unvaccinated is to themselves and to others who choose to be unvaccinated,” the judge said.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration announced the vaccine policy weeks ago, drawing sharp objections from police union leaders.
The judge noted that COVID-19 has killed many officers nationwide.
“In light of that terrible sacrifice, the police unions’ request just to have their grievances heard seems a pretty modest task,” Mitchell said.