Unions representing police and firefighters in Boston are taking legal action against Mayor Michelle Wu's COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
The Boston Firefighters Local 718, Boston Police Superior Officers Federation and Boston Police Detectives Benevolent Society announced Thursday that they had filed a temporary restraining order to stop implementation of the vaccine requirement.
All city employees must provide proof of a first shot by Jan. 15 and a second shot by Feb. 15. People entering certain indoor public spaces will also need to provide proof of vaccination beginning Jan. 15.
The move, announced by Wu on Dec. 20, eliminates the option for city workers to be tested weekly in lieu of vaccination.
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"Local 718 has consistently supported the City's efforts to maintain safety for employees and the public through this pandemic. However, Local 718 has also consistently maintained that any policy related to vaccinations as a condition of employment must be negotiated with the union. To that end, Local 718 and the City worked out an agreement several months ago that allows fire fighters who are uncomfortable receiving a vaccine to choose a regular testing option," the firefighters' union said in a statement.
The union went on to cite Dr. Anthony Fauci's advocacy of using testing extensively to help curb the spread of COVID-19.
"Earlier this month, this same administration entered into binding agreements allowing public safety employees to submit weekly tests negative for COVID-19 and must adhere to them," the Boston Police Superior Officers Federation said in a statement of its own. "This lawsuit is not about science or politics, this is simply about making sure we hold our elected leaders to their word, our members are treated fairly and our labor rights are respected."
Both unions alluded to the staff shortages at the agencies they represent. The Firefighters Local 718 argued that the policy "will, if not enjoined, significantly reduce understaffed public safety agencies that are necessary to address public health response to the ongoing pandemic" and "overburden exhausted work forces."
The Boston Globe reported Thursday that a city spokesperson did not specifically respond to a question the newspaper asked about the unions' legal action.
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"As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, the City has acted within its authority, and with the advice of public health officials, to require vaccination for all city workers, aligning our policy with that of the state and with public-serving employers across the country," the spokesperson said, according to the Globe. "This plan builds in appropriate time for compliance, and our expectation is that all of our city's workforce will join us in protecting our communities by taking every action possible to end this pandemic."