CHICAGO—Your termination for refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19 may not be the end of the road, thanks to a recent ruling by the state labor board.
The Illinois state labor board has ruled that union workers in Chicago who were fired for refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19 must be reinstated. This decision comes after various unions representing city workers filed charges of unfair labor practices, which were consolidated after Mayor Lori Lightfoot‘s vaccine mandate was implemented in 2021. In addition to reinstatement, the board has ordered that the city’s vaccination policy be rescinded and employees be compensated for lost wages and benefits with interest.
Administrative Law Judge Anna Hamburg-Gal’s 78-page ruling cited the city for “failing and refusing to bargain collectively in good faith” before mandating the vaccine without consent. The ruling did not tackle the legality of vaccine requirements but instead centered on the process of implementing the mandate. While Mayor Lightfoot asserted that city workers “owe it to the public” to safeguard themselves from the virus, some refused to comply with the vaccination requirement.
A spokesperson for Mayor Lori Lightfoot called the recent ruling to reinstate union workers who refused the COVID-19 vaccine “an erroneous decision” that disregards the law, facts, and science. “We are currently reviewing the ruling and evaluating next steps,” the spokesperson added.
The city has a 30-day window to appeal, and if it does, a state board panel can review Administrative Law Judge Anna Hamburg-Gal’s decision and make a final determination.
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