The City of Boston is appealing a Massachusetts Court of Appeals judge’s decision to block the city’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate for employees, which comes in response to a lawsuit filed by unions representing first responders.
Mayor Michelle Wu’s mandate, announced in December, requires all 20,000 city employees to be vaccinated and was originally scheduled to go into effect on January 15, 2022. There has been a continuous back-and-forth between the mayor’s office and city unions.
“Courts across the country have repeatedly recognized the right of states and local governments to require full vaccinations of public employees. Our appeal will help ensure the city can protect public health by moving forward in accordance to this precedent as we continue to negotiate with our union partners,” a city spokesperson wrote when asked to comment on the appeal.
The Boston Police Federation of Senior Officers, the Boston Police Detectives Benevolent Society and the Boston Firefighters Union Local 718 filed a lawsuit in response to the announcement of the warrant. Part of the issues revolve around an argument that the mandate violates part of the Collective Bargaining Act and their Memoranda of Understanding.
Earlier this month, Judge Sabita Singh temporarily blocked the vaccination mandate from taking effect, preventing these union workers from being fired for noncompliance. For now, they can return to work and undergo routine testing instead of getting vaccinated.
The Federation of Boston Police Senior Officers said Friday it was “deeply disappointed” by the mayor’s decision to appeal the injunction.
“The Federation and our allied public safety unions made several offers to Mayor Wu’s advisers to resolve this dispute and they ignored them. The city refused to meet with us for weeks, despite requests. Mayor Wu’s decision to continue to advocate instead of meeting with us at the bargaining table is frustrating. Our members who have committed themselves to a lifetime of service deserve to be protected, respected and treated fairly. Now that we have all worked together for the surge of Omicron, let’s get back to work and focus on improving public safety and quality of life,” the union wrote.
The injunction was not a final decision on the case, but was to remain in place until the case was resolved.
The city had previously reached an agreement with the Boston Teachers Union to allow a testing option for unvaccinated teachers.
The ongoing battle comes even as the mayor lifted evidence of the vaccine requirement for some businesses in the city, citing enhanced COVID-19 measures.