FOP president urges police officers to ignore city mandate to report vaccination status — predicts 50% cut in cops on street
FOP President John Catanzara instructed rank-and-file officers to report to work Friday and be sent home for not having reported their vaccine status. Asked to respond, a mayoral spokesperson said they would have “no statement.”
Urging its members not to comply with the city’s vaccine reporting mandate, the Chicago police union plans to take Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration to court, even though unvaccinated city workers will go into “no-pay” status starting Friday.
Chicago Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara said in a video Tuesday that sending home non-compliant officers could cut the city’s police presence over the weekend in half.
The union president said that the FOP already has a class-action grievance drafted to cover “everything under the sun” that police officers might lose if they refuse to get vaccinated, including pay and benefits.
City Hall has announced that any city employees who fail to report their vaccination status by Friday will be placed in a “non-disciplinary, no-pay status.
But Catanzara instructed rank-and-file officers to file exemptions to receiving the vaccine, but not to enter any information into the city mandated vaccine portal.
FOP members are to report to work Friday and be sent home for not having filled out the portal, Catanzara said in the video, posted on YouTube and Facebook.
“Do not fill out the portal information,” Catanzara told union members. “I’ve made my status very clear as far as the vaccine, but I do not believe the city has the authority to mandate that to anybody let alone that information about your medical history.”
Asked to respond, a mayoral spokesperson said they would have “no statement.”
Lightfoot has not strayed from the Oct. 15 deadline for all city employees to be vaccinated, even in the face of vocal opposition.
In August, Catanzara was forced to apologize for comparing Lightfoot’s vaccine mandate to Nazi Germany during the Holocaust, an analogy condemned by the Anti-Defamation League.
But he has not budged from his opposition to the mandate.
The city did extend an option for workers to submit to regular testing as an alternative to getting vaccinated.
In the video posted Tuesday, Catanzara told FOP members to file vaccine exemption forms to the city “no earlier” than Thursday, the day before Lightfoot’s deadline. Forms for medical or religious exemptions, as well as conscientious objections are posted on the FOP’s website.
If FOP members listen to Catanzara and refuse to fill out the city’s vaccine portal, Chicago could have to deal with a police force of “50% or less” this weekend, Catanzara said, something he blamed on the mayor’s “unwillingness to budge.”
“This is very clearly not a job action,” Catanzara said, “not a call for a strike.”
The union president did, however, refer to Chicago Teachers Union strikes, saying the FOP will similarly demand pay for any days members are in a no-pay status.
Officers who are under no-pay status still receive insurance benefits for 30 days after the “nondisciplinary” suspension. Catanzara said. As such, officers’ pensions will be pushed back in accordance to how long they are under no-pay status, Catanzara said, something the union plans to rectify in court as part of the class-action grievance.
Catanzara gave no sign of any willingness to compromise with Lightfoot’s mandate as the two sides appear to have reached a stalemate in negotiations.
“I can guarantee you that no-pay status will not last more than 30 days,” Catanzara said in the video. “There’s no way they’re going to be able to sustain a police department workforce at 50% capacity or less for more than seven days without something budging.”
Catanzara called a special meeting for FOP members Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the union’s Grand Lodge to address further questions.