"It is easier to build a strong child than to repair a broken man." - Frederick Douglass

Chicago Mayor Mandates Vaccine for Public Workers

Courtesy of Pedro Szekely (Flickr CC0)

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said that on Friday, employees who are not fully vaccinated for COVID-19 including those with medical and religious exemptions by Oct. 15, 2021, will be placed under a non-disciplinary, no pay status. Until then all unvaccinated employees must undergo twice-weekly tests at their expense, separated by 3-4 days, and report the results to the city until Dec. 31.

Employees can apply for religious and medical exemptions, but these requests are on a case-by-case basis and reviewed by the Department of Human Resources. As for fully vaccinated employees, the city will give one personal day they can use before June 30, 2022.

Chicago Federation of Labor President Bob Reiter previously said in a statement that the announcement might harden opposition to the vaccine. Any discussions around a vaccine policy should include not only religious or medical exemptions but testing alternatives. 

Courtesy of Seth Anderson (Flickr CC0)

In late August, Lightfoot announced that the vaccination mandate is the best way to defeat coronavirus and keep the city safe and healthy. But, the proposal met immediate pushback from labor groups and employees together with the Fraternal Order of Police and Chicago Federation of Labor. 

States and cities around the country introduced vaccine mandates for workers and met with legal challenges. Vaccine mandates for New York City public schools educators and staff began last week after a ruling by a federal appeals panel. The mandate faced opposition but pushed tens of thousands of Department of Education employees to get their shots. 

Seattle and Los Angeles municipal workers are required to get the vaccine next week. Unlike Chicago, there is no test-out option, and mandates also allow for medical and religious accommodations.

Since the August announcement, the city has been negotiating with labor unions.

Written by Janet Grace Ortigas
Edited by Sheena Robertson


The New York Times: Chicago’s mayor guts the city’s vaccine mandate for public workers; by Alexandra E. Petri

Chicago Today: Unvaccinated Chicago City Workers Must Undergo Twice Weekly Testing: Lightfoot

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Pedro Szekely’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Seth Anderson’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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