Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced in August that all city of Chicago workers must be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus by Oct. 15, following numerous cities across the U.S. The mandate for more than 30,000 city employees, except for those granted medical or religious exemptions, was immediately opposed by the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, the largest union for the city’s police department.
That triggered ongoing public sparring between Lightfoot and Catanzara, with the union chief at one point comparing the vaccination mandate to the Holocaust. A swift condemnation from Lightfoot and others followed, and Catanzara apologized.
At the start of October, Lightfoot ramped up the stakes, vowing unspecified “consequences” for city workers who did not meet the Oct. 15 deadline. That hard line came even as the FOP told its members they can circumvent the vaccination requirement by undergoing regular COVID-19 testing without threat of losing pay or getting fired.
Lightfoot challenged that statement, but then on Oct. 8 she agreed to allow city workers to forgo the vaccine until the end of the year, if they submit to twice-weekly testing at their own expense.
But she also said employees who do not fill out the city portal form, whether they are vaccinated or not, will be placed on a no-pay status.
This week, the rhetoric between the mayor and Catanzara heated up further, with the latter vowing a lawsuit and instructing members to defy the reporting requirements on the city form as Friday’s deadline loomed.
Then Friday morning, Lightfoot announced the city filed an injunctive complaint a day earlier against the FOP and Catanzara, claiming he was “engaging in, supporting, and encouraging a work stoppage or strike.”
At least four Chicago police officers have died from COVID-19, and the FOP announced the death of its former president Dean Angelo from complicates of COVID-19 on Tuesday — the same day Catanzara threatened legal action over the vaccine mandate.