The city is seeking to extend a court-ordered ban on Chicago police union president John Catanzara’s use of social media to discourage his members from reporting their vaccine status to the city, and extend similar restrictions to other union leaders.
The current 10-day ban on Catanzara — in the form of a temporary restraining order — will expire Oct. 25.
Attorney Michael Warner, who’s representing the city, asked Cook County Circuit Court Judge Cecilia Horan during a hearing Wednesday to extend the order that muffled Catanzara, who is president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7, and to broaden it to include other union officials.
“There have been some mass email communications coming from other officials other than Mr. Catanzara that we believe if they do not violate the letter of your honor’s order, violate the spirit,” Warner said during a hearing Wednesday. “While this underlying issue of the vaccine policy remains unresolved, we think the status quo needs to be maintained.”
Attorney Joel D’Alba, who represents the police union, said the tactic only “makes matters worse, and we will resist it.”
The city’s deadline to report vaccine status was Friday. More than 4,500 cops didn’t comply. Since then, officers who remained defiant have been called to police headquarters and given a last opportunity to share their vaccine status. If they continue to decline, the officers are stripped of their police powers, put on no-pay status and forced to hand over their police badges and IDs — a consequence only about 20 officers faced as of Tuesday.
Officers who are not vaccinated must submit to twice-weekly testing on their own time and pay for it out of their own pockets.
Warner didn’t reference it as a reason to broaden the temporary restraining order to include other union officials, but in a video and statement posted Wednesday to Facebook, FOP First Vice President Michael Mette urged members to hold the line in their effort to resist the vaccine mandate.
He likened the bunches of noncompliant officers being called to police headquarters to a scene out of “The Hunger Games”
“Good morning, everybody, welcome to day three of the Hunger Games where we find out who the city is going to offer up as tribute,” he said.
Horan also on Wednesday declined the union’s request that she recuse herself from the case because the firm she was a partner at prior to becoming a judge, Hinshaw & Culbertson, created a report about police reform for the city’s Police Accountability Task Force that contributed to the creation of a federal consent decree the Police Department is still currently under.
Horan said the firm had more than 400 attorneys and she did not know about the report at all and had nothing to do with it while she was a partner at the firm. Horan further said she doesn’t know Mayor Lori Lightfoot and has never represented any of the parties involved in the case.
The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Monday at 10 a.m.
Catanzara argues the vaccine mandate should fall under collective bargaining.
A separate lawsuit filed by the police union seeks a court-ordered suspension of the vaccination policy pending further bargaining and arbitration.
A hearing in that case is scheduled for Thursday.