It’s showdown time in Chicago, as the leader of the union representing its police officers squares off with Democratic Mayor Lori Lightfoot over her demand that all city workers report their vaccination status to the city by Friday or be put on unpaid leave.
Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara said that the union will resist and take the city to court if it tries to enforce its mandate on vaccine reporting.
“He’s threatening litigation, I say, bring it,” Lightfoot said, according to The Washington Post.
Catanzara said that if the union heeds his advice and the city plays hardball by implementing its threat, Chicago streets will be very different.
“It’s safe to say that the city of Chicago will have a police force at 50 percent or less for this weekend coming up,” according to NBC.
“Whatever happens because of that manpower issue, that falls at the mayor’s doorstep,” Catanzara said in a Youtube video message to Chicago police officers.
He made it clear that he expects to win a war of wills.
“I can guarantee you that no-pay status will not last more than 30 days,” Catanzara said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. “There’s no way they’re going to be able to sustain a police department workforce at 50 percent capacity or less for more than seven days without something budging.”
He said that the city has refused to work with the union.
“The reality is the city acknowledged from the beginning their obligation to bargain in good faith over this subject,” Catanzara said, according to WGN-TV. “They have refused.”
Catanzara has said that the union’s issue is not whether or not to be vaccinated. He said he opposes the mandate and the requirement to disclose an officer’s vaccination status.
He has urged union members to file requests for exemptions to the rule on Thursday, the day before the city’s deadline, and not tell the city their vaccination status.
Lightfoot has said the city is ready for whatever comes after Friday.
She said that Catanzara was “doing a patent disservice to his members every single day” by opposing her mandate, according to the Post.
“What we’re focused on is making sure that we maximize the opportunity to create a very safe workplace,” Lightfoot said, according to NBC.
“The data is very clear. It is unfortunate that the FOP leadership has chosen to put out a counter-narrative. But the fact of the matter is, if you are not vaccinated, you are playing with your life, the life of your family, the life of your colleagues and members of the public,” she continued.
But the union is not budging.
“I don’t know how the mayor in good conscience can force this to go forward, and risk sending half the police department home, and subjecting the citizens of this city to that,” Catanzara said, according to WLS-TV.
Aldermen Marty Quinn and Matt O’Shea issued a letter to the mayor that said, in part, “We are extremely concerned that our communities will be put in serious danger.”
Alderman Anthony Napolitano made his case clear.
“I think the mayor has done her due diligence, as well, but we’re asking that there be a repeal of this mandate,” he said.