Alderpeople Call Special City Council Meeting to Try to Roll Back Vaccine Mandate

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Thirteen alderpeople invoked state law to call a special meeting of the Chicago City Council for 11 a.m. Friday in an attempt to force a vote on a measure that would reverse Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s order that all city employees disclose their vaccination status.

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Written by Alds. Silvana Tabares (23rd Ward) and Anthony Napolitano (41st Ward), the measure to give alderpeople the final say over whether employees could be disciplined for flouting the vaccine mandate failed to advance at Monday’s meeting of the Chicago City Council.

While Tabares has said she and her family are vaccinated, she opposes Lightfoot’s action to unilaterally impose the vaccine mandate, accusing the mayor of failing to negotiate with the unions who represent the city’s workforce of nearly 31,000 workers.

“The mandate will have negative impacts on public safety [because] there will be less police officers to fight crime & less firefighters to fight fires,” Tabares tweeted. “Are we going to tell our residents that we fought for them for answers or sat on the sidelines?”

Lightfoot declined to answer questions about the special meeting after Wednesday’s City Council meeting. At least 26 alderpeople will have to show up Friday for the meeting to take place.

The measure has 16 co-sponsors, far short of the 26 votes the measure needs to pass the City Council as well as the 36 votes it would need to override an all-but certain mayoral veto.

Lightfoot first ordered all 30,956 city employees to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 15 but announced Oct. 8 that employees who were not fully vaccinated could avoid discipline until Dec. 31 by testing twice weekly for COVID-19 on their own time at their own expense.

Ten days after the vaccine reporting mandate took effect, 57% of all Chicago Police Department employees have told city officials they are vaccinated, an increase of 3% since Oct. 18, according to data released by the city.

More than 70% of all police department employees have disclosed their vaccination status and complied with Lightfoot’s order, an increase of nearly 6%, according to the data.

That leaves 3,735 officers in jeopardy of being disciplined and eventually fired for failing to comply with Lightfoot’s order. Approximately 24 officers have been stripped of their police powers and put on leave for failing to comply with the order, city officials said.

More than 68% of the Chicago Fire Department told the city they are fully vaccinated and 86% of the department has disclosed their vaccination status, according to city data released Monday.

That leaves 669 firefighters in jeopardy of being disciplined, officials said.

Every other city department had more than 85% of their employees disclose their vaccination status to city officials, according to city data.

Contact Heather Cherone: @HeatherCherone | (773) 569-1863 | [email protected]

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