A Chicago judge recently mandated that the city reinstate workers who were let off for defying Democrat Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s 2021 COVID immunization requirement and compensate them with lost earnings.
On April 19, Administrative Law Judge Anna Hamburg-Gal concluded that Chicago had broken the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act by failing to bargain over COVID vaccination mandates for municipal employees in good faith.
When unionized employees rejected the demand and lost salary and benefits, the city was required to “make whole” those individuals. Additionally, 7% yearly interest will be paid to the impacted workers in lieu of missed pay.
The directive is applicable to city employees who are represented by trade unions or by the American Federation of County, State, and City Employees, including carpenters, plumbers, bricklayers, electricians, machinists, and operating engineers.
Officers of the police are unaffected by the judge’s decision. However, the state board is now hearing a lawsuit involving the Fraternal Order of Police.
When the vaccination requirement wasn’t followed, 16 police officers, according to Lightfoot in 2022, were put on unpaid leave.
The Chicago Sun-Times quoted Anders Lindall, an AFSCME spokeswoman, as saying, “We believe it is a strong decision and beneficial for the rights of employees generally.”
The question in this instance, according to Lindall, is if an employer must negotiate any major modifications to the terms and conditions of employment.
According to a representative of the Chicago Federation of Labor, the judge’s decision “defends the rights that employees have to be given a say in their place of employment through collective negotiation.”
In its statement, the CFL expressed its “hope that the entire board will uphold the judge’s ruling and the City won’t attempt to file exceptions.”
Lightfoot stated in 2021 that all municipal employees needed to have their last immunizations by October and that any who didn’t would suffer “consequences.”
According to a press release from the city from October 2021, “Employees who do not disclose their vaccination status before October 15, 2021, will be put in a non-disciplinary, zero-pay status.”
Hamburg-Gal’s decision states that “multiple” municipal workers were sacked and others were put on unpaid leave for missing the deadline in October.
The mayor’s office released the following statement to Fox News Digital: “The record before the Administrative Law Judge shows a very different tale. The conclusion made yesterday was incorrect and did not take into account the law, the facts, or most significantly, the science. We are now analyzing the decision and planning our future moves.”
On May 15, Democrat Brandon Johnson will succeed Lightfoot, the first Chicago mayor to lose a reelection campaign in 40 years.