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More than 100 city workers sue Chicago over vaccine mandate as police union, City Hall show no signs of backing down in stalemate

Alice Yin, Chicago Tribune on

Published in News & Features

A group of dozens of Chicago firefighters and water department workers are asking a federal judge for a temporary restraining order against Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s vaccine mandate, the latest salvo in a battle over city rules.

The long-shot request for an injunction, filed Thursday in federal court by attorney Jonathan Lubin, would prevent the city from requiring workers to disclose their vaccination status or be disciplined for not being vaccinated.

The plaintiffs stand to lose their jobs over their “deeply held beliefs that they should not take the COVID-19 vaccine,” the lawsuit says.

The suit also challenges Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s statewide order requiring health care workers and certain other state employees to be fully vaccinated.

The employees numbering more than 100 join Chicago’s police union in seeking court intervention to try to undo the city’s vaccination mandate.

The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 has filed suit in Cook County against the rule, and the union’s opposition has prompted some Indiana officials to step in to try to lure disgruntled officers across the border.

 

Indiana U.S. Sen. Mike Braun, a Republican, spoke on Fox News this week with a pitch to Chicago police officers turned off by Lightfoot’s order to report their vaccination status: Come to the Hoosier State instead. In a Thursday statement to the Tribune, he added that “several experienced Chicago cops” have already reached out to his office.

“Our police do one of the hardest jobs in the world and they deserve respect — not heavy-handed mandates that will force them out of a job if they won’t disclose their private medical information,” Braun wrote.

Braun’s invitation was swiftly derided by Indiana Democrats who said he was once again inflaming a crisis to score political points. Jim Wieser, chair of the Lake County Democratic Party, said that the last thing his state needs is more unvaccinated workers.

“For him to invite, especially, first responders over so they don’t have to get vaccinated, it’s so absurd it almost defies logic,” Wieser said in a phone call, adding Braun “says stuff to just be inciting folks.”

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