Chicago forced to rehire employees who refused vaccine mandate

by ian

Ian Patrick, FISM News

Chicago politicians were humbled after an Illinois judge ruled last week that the city did not “bargain collectively in good faith” with its employees concerning its vaccination mandate.

On October 21, 2021 the city of Chicago under Mayor Lori Lightfoot instituted a vaccine mandate for city employees. Those who refused to get vaccinated against COVID-19 were let go from their positions.

According to a press release at the time, “Employees who fail to report their vaccination status by October 15, 2021, will be placed in a non-disciplinary, no pay status.” This rule proved to be unpopular to some of the city’s workers.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31, known as AFSCME, and the Coalition of Unionized Public Employees then filed a complaint against this rule on October 29 of the same year.

The ruling from Judge Anna Hamburg-Gal of the Illinois Labor Relations Board was in response to that complaint.

Judge Hamburg-Gal said the city failed to “bargain collectively in good faith” with employees on multiple concerns surrounding the mandate.

Because of this, the justice ordered the city of Chicago to remove the policy and “any discipline issued to employees for violations of the vaccination policy and expunge it from employees’ personnel files.”

In addition, the city is required to reinstate these employees and to “[m]ake employees whole for the loss of any pay or benefits resulting from” the policy.

Unions were happy with the result.

Anders Lindall, a spokesperson for AFSCME, said the ruling “will bolster workers’ rights going forward” by showing “the employer’s obligation to engage with the union.”

Chicago Federation of Labor President Bob Reiter said it was “the right decision.”

But Cesar Rodriguez, Mayor Lightfoot’s press secretary, called the decision “an erroneous decision that does not follow the law, facts nor importantly the science.” Rodriguez indicated that the Mayor’s office was looking into possible next steps.