WASHINGTON EXAMINER – An Illinois judge has ruled that Chicago city employees who were fired for refusing to get a COVID-19 vaccine must be reinstated and that the mandate be rescinded.
More than 20 unions representing city workers signed on to an unfair labor practices lawsuit with the state panel after outgoing Democratic Mayor Lori Lightfoot imposed the policy in 2021.
Administrative Law Judge Anna Hamburg-Gal said in a 78-page decision that while the city was within its right to implement a vaccine requirement for workers, it failed to negotiate with the union over the consequences, which included putting employees on a “no-pay status” and later terminating them completely.
The city should have negotiated with the union until both sides reached an agreement or were at an impasse, Hamburg-Gal said.
She ordered Chicago to reinstate the employees who were punished and have their personnel records wiped clean and pay workers for lost pay with 7% interest.
Chicago Federation of Labor President Bob Reiter said in a statement that Wednesday’s ruling “defends the rights of workers to have a say in their workplace through collective bargaining.”
A spokesperson for the city said Lightfoot was “reviewing the ruling and evaluating next steps,” the Chicago Tribune reported.
Lightfoot has less than 30 days left on the job. Democratic Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson, a former teacher and union organizer, will be sworn in on May 15.