New York City’s largest police union is suing to stop the implementation of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s vaccine mandate for city workers, making the nation’s most populous city part of the growing trend of local unions pushing back against government mandates.
The Police Benevolent Association of New York filed its suit in Staten Island on Monday and plans to request a temporary restraining order that would halt the city from enacting the mandate while the lawsuit is pending. Last week, de Blasio announced that municipal workers including police officers and firefighters will be required to receive at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Friday, October 29. Those who don’t will be placed on unpaid leave. The NYPD has one of the lower vaccination rates among city departments.
The PBA filed its lawsuit on the same day as thousands of city workers marched across the Brooklyn Bridge to protest the vaccine mandate. Union opposition to these obligations, especially in city police departments, has been growing across the country and increasing in fervor. Earlier this month, the Los Angeles county sheriff said he would not enforce the mandate in his department. In Washington State, 1,785 state workers reportedly left or were fired for not complying with the vaccine mandate.
And Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot is currently locked in a lengthy battle with the city’s police department — and specifically John Catanzara, the president of the local chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police — over that city’s mandate. Catanzara, who previously invoked Nazi Germany in criticizing Lightfoot’s order, advocated for department members to defy the October 15 deadline for getting shots. Lightfoot filed a suit against the union, claiming that Catanzara was essentially “engaging in, supporting, and encouraging a work stoppage or strike.” The FOP president then countersued, but a judge later instituted a gag order against him, blocking Catanzara from telling officers not to get vaccinated. That restraining order was allowed to lapse on Monday. WTTW, Chicago’s PBS affiliate, reports that only 57 percent of Chicago Police Department members say they’re vaccinated.