Judge Raymond Mitchell of Cook County handed down a ruling on Monday halting the city's vaccine mandate temporarily and forcing the issue into arbitration.
Pending the results of said arbitration, Chicago's first responders will be able to work normally in the interim, past the previous Dec. 31 deadline to be fully vaccinated. However, they will continue to have to submit to weekly COVID tests in order to do so.
Some officers have already been placed on leave without pay, according to the Westphalian Times, which states, "The Chicago police union wants its officers who were put on a no-pay status to return to work while the union and the city engage in arbitration."
The judge's ruling states explicitly that the police union cannot be expected to "obey now" and then seek remedy in the courts at a later date, as this would be an "empty victory" for them, due to the fact that they are being mandated to undergo an irreversible medical procedure, which is the vaccine.
As such, the text of the ruling indicates that the cut-off date needs to be a major point of discussion in and of itself during the upcoming arbitration proceedings, stating:
"'Obey now, grieve later' is not possible. If every union member complied and was vaccinated by December 31 … they would have no grievance to pursue and there would be no remedy an arbitrator could award. An award of back pay or reinstatement cannot undo a vaccine. Nothing can."
"This absence of meaningful arbitration is not just an injury to members, it is also an injury to the union itself. It undermines the unions’ collective bargaining power and risks diminishing the union in the eyes of its members."