A state administrative law judge has issued an order for the city of Chicago to rehire employees who were thrown out of their jobs or punished for not following Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s COVID-19 inoculation mandate and provide back pay with interest for lost wages.
After the 2021 jab mandate, over 20 unions representing city employees filed an unfair labor practices charge, which then appeared before the Illinois Labor Relations Board.
The eventual ruling is said to affirm that employers have a responsibility to negotiate in good faith with their unions when significant changes to the terms of employment are being considered.
In the 78-page decision, Administrative Law Judge Anna Hamburg-Gal concluded that while the city did have legal grounds to force the experimental injection on its workers, it is obligated to negotiate with the union over the potential effects such a rule may bring, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Hamburg-Gal emphasized that docking pay “is not an inevitable consequence of the vaccine mandate or reporting requirement because no-pay status is not the sole means by which the (city) could have enforced its policy.”
“Although the policy on its face states that any violations of the policy could result in discipline up to and including termination, the (city) established a past practice of treating violations more leniently,” wrote the judge.
Although this case differs from another that was launched by the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7, which is the largest police union in the city, union president John Catanzara lauded the ruling.
“The hope is that the Labor Board ruling…is a citywide policy going forward,” Catanzara stated in a video message.
The decision was not well received by Mayor Lightfoot’s office, with a spokesperson describing it as “erroneous” and claiming the mayor’s office is “evaluating next steps.”
“[The] ruling was an erroneous decision that does not follow the law, facts nor importantly the science,” stated Lightfoot spokesman Cesar Rodriguez.
Should it choose to, the city can appeal the decision with the Labor Board within the next 30 days, with the deadline falling just days after Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson is set to assume office.
Many on the other side of the aisle have praised the decision, including Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who voiced his support for the ruling when he referred to it as a victory against “petty tyrants.”
Gotta love it when petty tyrants are given comeuppance https://t.co/ga93zxkOMX
— Rand Paul (@RandPaul) April 25, 2023