Chicago city worker vaccine mandate survives repeal effort

Midwest

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot clears her throat during a press conference where she demanded the Chicago Teachers Union to reach a deal with Chicago Public Schools on a reopening plan at City Hall on Feb. 4, 2021. (Pat Nabong/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)

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CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city workers survived another challenge — this one from the City Council, which voted down a proposal pushed by some of its members to repeal it.

The council voted 30-13 Friday to keep in place the mandate after Lightfoot said that halting it would put the public at greater risk of contracting the coronavirus. The council further decided against stripping the mayor of her power to order such measures.

“I know, without a doubt … the only way we can save lives and put this pandemic behind us is to get people vaccinated,” Lightfoot said.

Under Lightfoot’s mandate, all city employees must report their vaccination status or risk being put on no-pay status. Those who are not vaccinated must undergo regular testing until Jan. 1, when they must be fully inoculated.

The mandate triggered a battle between Lightfoot and the police officers’ union, which has urged members to defy it, maintaining that the mayor had no right to order city employees to disclose such information.

The vote came after some City Council members expressed concern that many officers would refuse to comply with the mandate and would leave the department understaffed and unable to adequately protect the nation’s third-largest city. But the police superintendent reported Monday that about two dozen employees had been placed on no-pay status.

Lightfoot asked the aldermen to “stop the fearmongering” about possible manpower shortages that she said have not materialized.

The council’s vote came the same day a federal judge declined a motion by 130 firefighters and other city workers to temporarily halt enforcement of the mandate.

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