CHICAGO (CBS) — More than two days after a deadline to notify their bosses of their vaccination status, more than a third of the city’s police force and more than a quarter of the Fire Department have yet to comply with the city’s vaccine mandate, and newly released data shows only a little more than half of Chicago Police Department staff has told City Hall they’re fully vaccinated.
Friday night was the deadline for all city workers to officially report their vaccination status, or face the prospect of being placed on “no pay” status. The Lightfoot administration also has threatened to fire employees who repeatedly refuse to comply with the city’s vaccine policy.READ MORE: Ald. Carrie Austin Thanks City Council, Mayor For Support After Her Collapse At December Meeting
City officials said, as of Monday, 79% of all city employees have reported their vaccination status, and 84% of those who have done so have confirmed they are fully vaccinated.
The city also has received approximately 4,000 requests from city workers seeking medical or religious exemptions to the vaccination requirement.
While city officials said they would not begin placing any workers who missed the deadline on “no pay” status over the weekend, employees who don’t comply with the vaccine reporting mandate could be sent home without pay as soon as today, and they could face disciplinary action if they continue to defy the mandate.
CPD also has issued a memo to officers, warning them refusal to comply with the mandate could “result in a penalty up to and including separation from the Chicago Police Department.”
According to city officials, approximately 64% of staff at the Chicago Police Department have reported their vaccination status as of Monday. Of the department’s 12,770 staff, only 6,894, or about 54%, have reported being fully vaccinated. Officials said, of the 1,333 who reported they aren’t fully vaccinated, it’s possible some have had a first dose of the vaccine, but not a second dose.
Still, that leaves 36% of CPD staff who have yet to report their vaccination status, after the president of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police repeatedly urged officers last week to defy the mandate, before a Cook County judge ordered him to stop, at least until the next hearing on the city’s lawsuit against the FOP.
The Lightfoot administration is accusing the police union of supporting a “work stoppage or strike regarding the vaccine mandate.” Both state law and the FOP contract with the city prohibit officers from going on strike.
However, Catanzara has repeatedly said he’s not calling for a strike or other work stoppage.
“The union never called for a strike or a job action. We told our officers to continue to go to work. It was the city that was threatening to lock out our officers for not complying with an improper directive,” Catanzara said in a video posted to social media on Friday, before a judge issued a restraining order prohibiting him from encouraging officers to defy the city’s vaccine reporting requirement.
Meantime, at the Chicago Fire Department, about 72% of their 4,907 staff have reported their vaccination status, and more than 60% of their staff have reported being fully vaccinated.
City officials have said any city employees who are not yet fully vaccinated may opt to be tested for COVID-19 twice a week through the end of the year, but after Dec. 31, all city workers must be fully vaccinated.
Any city workers who aren’t fully vaccinated who refuse to comply with the twice-weekly testing requirement can be sent home without pay, and could face further discipline.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot said 13 of the city’s 35 departments are in 100% compliance with the requirement for employees to report their vaccination status, and 29 of 35 departments are in 95% compliance.
“This is, without a doubt, a huge win for the health and safety of our residents,” Lightfoot said Monday afternoon at City Hall. “We know that the best way to get to the end of COVID-19 is by getting vaccinated, pure and simple, and as city leaders we have a responsibility to ensure that our staff is safe; not just for the safety of the general public they serve every day, but for the safety of themselves, for their family members, for their co-workers, and for members of the public, of course.”
Lightfoot confirmed that the Chicago Police Department has compiled a list of employees who have not yet reported their vaccination status, as required, and “we’re still going to give them one last opportunity to do the right thing,” before sending them home without pay.READ MORE: Charges To Be Filed Soon In Connection With Shooting Death Of 8-Year-Old Melissa Ortega
The mayor said only a “very small number” of officers who have been given an additional opportunity to comply with the mandate on Monday have refused to do so. Those who continue to defy the mandate will be placed on “no pay” status and could face further discipline.
Lightfoot said she’s not concerned that placing officers on “no pay” status for refusing to comply with the mandate will put the city’s safety at risk.
“I’m not seeing, at least for this day, that there’s going to be any disruption in our ability to keep our neighborhoods safe. We’ve got to keep plugging away at this. There’s a lot more people that we have to reach, and that will play itself out over the next couple days, but again I think the important thing is this is a really straightforward process,” she said.
The mayor said she expects the vast majority of officers ultimately will report their vaccination status when given one last chance to do so before facing potential disciplinary action.
“They’re not going to risk their careers by being insubordinate, and having in their jackets the fact that they defied a direct order of their supervisors. I don’t see that,” Lightfoot said.
Catanzara had warned that as much as half of the city’s police force was willing to defy the mandate, and force supervisors to send them home without pay.
Monday morning, Catanzara estimated more than 3,200 members of the FOP, which represents rank-and-file officers, were still refusing to comply with the city’s vaccine reporting mandate.
“Our moniker all week has been hold the line, for a reason,” Catanzara said.
He said officers who are still refusing to report their vaccination status will be called in by supervisors on Monday, and once again will be asked will be asked to comply with the mandate.
“If they refuse, it sounds like they’re going to go into a no pay status, effective immediately,” Catanzara said.
He said the dispute with the Lightfoot administration is no longer about the vaccine, or personal beliefs, but collective bargaining rights.
“All of those things are a change in your employment policies. You have to negotiate with us what that looks like. The city has refused to do that,” Catanzara said.
The FOP has filed its own lawsuit against the city, seeking to force the Lightfoot into arbitration over the vaccine mandate, accusing the city of illegally trying to impose new employment conditions without collective bargaining.
However, Lightfoot said “that’s simply not true.”
“If you look at the papers that we filed in court, we detailed literally every meeting, and all the efforts that we made” to negotiate with the police union, Lightfoot said.
The mayor said the city engaged in talks with every labor union regarding the vaccine mandate, and although it didn’t reach an agreement with them, it used input from the unions to make changes to its vaccine policy.MORE NEWS: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer To Retire
“No one can say that we didn’t bargain in good faith with absolutely every single unit that was at the table,” she said.