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Chicago's Police Union Fights City Hall Over COVID Vaccine Mandate In Court Hearings

By Jackie Kostek and Charlie De Mar

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The vaccine mandate showdown continues between City Hall and Chicago's police union.

CBS 2's Jackie Kostek reported Wednesday that the matter was discussed in two court hearings Wednesday.

With court filing after court filing from the police union, now a lawyer for the city wants a judge to order all union representatives - not just the president - to stop telling officers to not enter their vaccine info on the portal.

A lawyer for the city is asking the judge to both extend and broaden the temporary restraining order against Fraternal Order of Police Union President John Catanzara, essentially saying that while he has complied, other union officials are now encouraging officers to "hold the line" on his behalf.

"All right everybody, welcome to day three of the Hunger Games," Chicago FOP Vice President Michael Mette said in a Facebook message Wednesday morning.

Mette took to Facebook twice Wednesday to blast the city's vaccine mandate, comparing it to the dystopian trilogy.

"From the beginning, it's always been a tyrannical order, 'It's this or else,'" he said. "Well, I've said it in the past, I'm choosing the 'or else.'"

The "or else" appears to be CPD officers refusing to report their vaccination status and some being put on no-pay status. At a CPD graduation for new officers, Superintendent David Brown said so far 68% of officers had reported their status to the city. He expects that number to be near 80% by the weekend.

As of Tuesday, the department said 21 officers had been put on no-pay status for refusing to comply with the city's mandate.

"What issue is next?" Mette said in a Facebook message. "for all you young coppers out there, you've got a long ways to go - and don't think it can't get worse."

The issue was discussed in two separate hearings in Circuit Court Wednesday. CBS 2 Legal Analyst Irv Miller said the dueling cases from the city and police union come down to legal gamesmanship.

"I think both sides have legitimate positions. I really do," Miller said. "I think they can each point to one part of the law and say, 'this law is on my side, this law is on your side. Let's meet in the middle someplace.'"

He added while collective bargaining is nothing new, the issue of what can be done between employer and employee when it comes to COVID vaccinations and mandates is when it comes to the law. Miller said the resolution will likely happen within the court system.

"I think that's the only resolution for a higher court, not the circuit court of Cook County but appellate court, perhaps the Supreme Court of Illinois, perhaps the Supreme Court of the United States to make a decision that's binding for everybody and that should resolve the issue once and for all," Miller said.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, police Supt. David brown said 21 officers have entered no pay status for refusing to report their status to the city.

At a graduation ceremony for incoming officers Wednesday, Brown said compliance is increasing -and the city isn't backing down from it's mandate

"We've improved the numbers. Early this morning, it was at 68 percent," Brown said. "The City of Chicago is proceeding with the vaccine mandate."

As CBS 2's Charlie De Mar reported, if Chicago were to need help in case of a major emergency — not regular patrols — suburban police departments were asked by a statewide law enforcement coalition if they could help. The Sheriff's offices in Kane, DuPage, and Kendall counties will not send officers to Chicago if called upon.

To be clear, the Chicago Police Department has not made a formal request for help from any other departments — but they did reach out as a first step as contingency plans are made.

This is all back in court Thursday morning.

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