Options were running out Friday for the Chicago Police Department employees and other city workers who still haven't been vaccinated despite a city policy requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for city employees.
In accordance with the policy, employees are required to report their first COVID shot by Sunday. At least 2,800 CPD employees have yet to receive their dose of the COVID vaccine, Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara told NBC 5.
Employees who fail to comply will be placed in a non-disciplinary, no pay status until they come into compliance, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement Friday evening. Those decisions, however, will be "addressed at an individual and department level."
Catanzara has the support of 12 Chicago aldermen who sent Lightfoot a letter Friday, saying, "We demand the city to issue in writing that no city employee will be disciplined or terminated." The aldermen also asked for "an open and fair exemption process."
Last month, the city won an arbitration case after months of wrangling with the police union over the requirements.
Of the approximately 2,800 CPD members who haven't complied with the policy, Catanzara says he believes 90% have filed exemptions that have not been formally reviewed.
"They didn't even acknowledge any of the contentious objections that we submitted," he said. "They were summarily denied."
Even without the vaccine mandate, manpower remains a challenge. With many St. Patrick's Day festivities taking place this weekend, CPD again canceled days off for officers.
"We can't operate with what we have..." Catanzara said, in part. "Here you are telling officers you got to come back to work while you're telling other ones to get out the back door. It's just ludicrous."