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Court Blocks Vaccine Mandate For Some Boston Firefighters, Police

BOSTON (AP) — A judge has blocked Boston Mayor Michelle Wu from imposing a COVID-19 vaccination mandate on certain classes of firefighters and police officers.

Tuesday's order from Massachusetts Appeals Court Judge Sabita Singh rules that Wu's mandate that all city workers be vaccinated against the virus or face termination can't be enforced on members of three municipal labor unions until their ongoing legal challenge is resolved.

It says the city's prior policy allowing for workers to either get the shot or agree to regular testing will remain in effect for the city firefighters union and two unions representing police officers.

The appeals court late last month issued a temporary stay on the mandate for the three unions after they appealed a state Superior Court ruling denying their request to halt the vaccine requirement.

A spokesperson for Wu said in a statement Tuesday that the Democrat's administration is "disappointed" by the appeals court ruling and carefully reviewing it.

"To protect communities and workplaces against COVID-19, courts across the country have repeatedly recognized the rights of state and local governments to require public employees to be vaccinated," the statement read. "More than 95 percent of the City's workforce is vaccinated because of the policy we enacted. Our workers and residents who rely on city services deserve to be protected."

The Boston Police Superior Officers Federation, one of the unions involved in the suit, said in a tweet Tuesday that their case is "not an anti-vaccination fight" but a "a chance to hold our elected leaders accountable while protecting our members' labor rights."

The unions have argued that Wu undermined their collective bargaining rights, "ignored written agreements" and "refused to meet with unions in good faith" when she imposed the mandate.

The firefighters union has said it wants the city to again give its members the option to submit to weekly COVID-19 testing instead of being vaccinated.

The public spat has come even as most of the city's 19,000-plus workers have already met Wu's requirement to receive at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, or face being placed on unpaid leave.

(© Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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