‘Hell, no!’ Chicago union chief says police ready to walkout en masse over Lightfoot’s vaccine mandate

The head of Chicago’s police union said that thousands of officers are willing to walk off the job and leave the city with inadequate law enforcement protection in protest of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s mandate that all city employees get vaccinated for COVID-19.

In a press conference on Monday, Lightfoot announced that vaccines “are absolutely going to be required” for city workers just hours after the FDA approved the Pfizer jab for people over the age of 16, which took it past its emergency use phase.

The decision also led the Pentagon to order all personnel to get the vaccine as well, as some private sector companies including Goldman Sachs and Delta Airlines joined as well.

In addition, President Joe Biden had previously signed an executive order requiring all two million-plus federal employees to get the shot as well or follow a regular COVID testing plan.

During her press conference, Lightfoot said her administration was still discussing the issue with city unions representing the 33,000-plus employees as to when a mandate would actually drop.

“We’re working through those discussions which have been ongoing now for a couple weeks with our colleagues in organized labor that represent city employees,” Lightfoot told reporters. “But we absolutely have to have a vaccine mandate.”

However, police union head John Catanzara said thousands of his members would stay home if Lightfoot signs a mandate order.

“This vaccine has no studies for long-term side effects or consequences. None,” he said. “To mandate anybody to get that vaccine, without that data as a baseline, amongst other issues, is a ‘Hell, no’ for us. We are 100 percent against mandated vaccines for our members.”

In a follow-up interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, Catanzara made it clear that he isn’t just speaking for himself or the rank-and-file officers.

“It ain’t just our guys. It’s the sergeants, lieutenants, and captains. This is a united front,” he told the paper Wednesday. “It’s no longer John Catanzara’s big mouth like they like to spin it all the time.”

He then indicated that thousands of fellow officers are ready to walk out if need be in protest of the mandate.

“This has literally lit a bomb underneath the membership. … And what are they gonna do when four or five thousand coppers say, ‘Screw you. I’m staying home. You’re not making me get this f**king vaccination. Don’t pay me. That’s fine. We’ll see you in court,” he said.

“You’re not gonna pay me. You’re gonna make me stay home. But you’re gonna have thousands of coppers willing to stay home, not getting paid to not get a vaccine and then, what are you gonna do for manpower on the streets?” he asked.

Nevertheless, federal health officials predicted that once the FDA approved the vaccines there would be a flood of mandates from government and private industry.

“You’re gonna see a lot more [vaccine] mandates because there will be institutions and organizations which previously were reluctant to require vaccinations, which will now feel much more empowered to do that,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s lead immunologist and Biden administration chief medical adviser, said following the FDA’s action earlier this week.

“That could be organizations, businesses, colleges, universities. We’re even seeing it with the military already,” he added.

Jon Dougherty

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