Judge: City of Chicago must reinstate employees fired for refusing Covid injection

by WorldTribune Staff / 247 Real News April 21, 2023

An Illinois Labor Relations Board judge has ruled that unionized City of Chicago employees who were fired or disciplined for refusing to get the Covid injection must be reinstated and repaid, with interest, for any loss of wages or benefits.

Administrative Law Judge Anna Hamburg-Gal ruled on Wednesday that the city violated the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act by not bargaining in good faith over vaccine requirements and changes in sick leave policies.

Hamburg-Gal is requiring the city to “make whole” workers who lost pay and benefits, plus 7% annual interest.

“The ruling is a broad rebuke of (Mayor Lori) Lightfoot’s get-tough policies on city workers who resisted vaccine mandates,” The Chicago-Sun Times noted.

The decision in a case before the Illinois Labor Relations Board applies to city workers represented by trade unions or by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. The unions banded together to challenge regulations Lightfoot imposed starting in 2021.

“We think it’s a strong decision and favorable for worker rights generally,” said Anders Lindall, a spokesman for AFSCME. “At issue in this case is whether an employer has an obligation to bargain over significant changes to terms and conditions of employment.”

Robert Reiter Jr., president of the Chicago Federation of Labor, said through a spokesman that the ruling “defends the rights of workers to have a say in their workplace through collective bargaining. We are hopeful that the full board will uphold the decision of the [judge] and the City will not seek to file exceptions.” The CFL was involved in negotiations with the city.

The mayor’s office said the ruling “was an erroneous decision that does not follow the law, facts nor importantly the science. We are currently reviewing the ruling and evaluating next steps.” The office would not discuss the case beyond its statement, Sun-Times reported.

Igor Chudov noted in an April 20 substack.com op-ed: “I am happy and sad simultaneously because thousands of Chicago workers were forced to vaccinate against their will. Nobody will ever compensate them for the loss of freedom or health declines. Nevertheless, I am happy about the ruling — which is about two years late. I hope the criminals who harassed and terrorized the unvaccinated Chicago workers and residents will be properly investigated — and they should not get any sort of a ‘pandemic amnesty’ for their wrongdoings.”

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