A top Chicago police union official on Wednesday referred to the organization’s vaccine standoff with Mayor Lori Lightfoot as “The Hunger Games” and warned younger officers that if they gave in on this, “What issue is next?”
The message from local Fraternal Order of Police first vice president Michael Mette, in a video posted on social media, came the Police Department slowly works through the process of dealing with the thousands of employees who did not report their vaccine status by Friday’s deadline. The city has been giving those employees counseling and a final chance to comply before placing those who refuse on no-pay status.
“Welcome to day three of ‘The Hunger Games,’ where we find out who the city is going to offer up as tribute,” Mette said, likening the situation to a series of young adult books and movies in which children in a dystopian world are forced to fight to the death for the enjoyment of viewers.
Police Supt. David Brown on Tuesday afternoon said 21 officers were on no-pay status because they refused to report their vaccine status in the city portal.
Mette called on officers to “stand strong,” saying the union needs to make the city bargain with them about enforcing the mandate.
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“If we fail to make them bargain with us on this issue, what issue is next?” he asked. “For all you young coppers out there, you got a long way to go and don’t think it can’t get worse.”
A Cook County judge last week issued a temporary restraining order against FOP President John Catanzara, prohibiting him from making public statements that encourage members not to report their COVID-19 vaccine status to the city.
Lightfoot on Tuesday said fewer than 65% of Chicago cops had met the city’s vaccination reporting requirement, days after Friday’s deadline for city workers to disclose their status.
About 72% of Chicago firefighters had by then met the requirement set by Lightfoot as a condition of city workers’ employment, she said. The mayor extended the deadline for city workers to be fully vaccinated, allowing for twice-weekly testing as an alternative through the end of the year. But police union officials have said part of their concern is the security of their medical data in the city’s portal.
More than 95% of all other city workers outside the police and fire departments have complied with the vaccine reporting rules, Lightfoot said. City officials have also stressed the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine.
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