Well, this is an interesting turn of events
The Boston Herald is reporting the Massachusetts Appeals Court Association Justice Sabita Singh has sided with the public-safety unions and is throwing out a lower-court’s ruling in addition to installing an injunction which will prevent Mayor Michelle Wu from enforcing the employee vaccine mandate.
Statement from Singh via the Herald:
“Given the limited harm to the city and the public health interest it seeks to promote, and the substantial harm likely to be sustained by the unions in the absence of an injunction, the balance of harms favors the issuance of an injunction to preserve the status quo, in view of the unions’ likelihood of success on the merits,” state Singh via statement. She also added that “an injunction would avoid the risk of loss of essential public employees, a harm suffered by the unions and the public alike.”
The International Fire Fighters Association Local 718, Boston Police Superior Officers Federation and Boston Police Detectives Benevolent Society filed a lawsuit against the mandate which Wu announced back in December.
Thanks to the surging omicron variant, Wu mandated that all municipal workers would need to get one shot of the vaccine by Jan. 15 or face discipline up to firing. The unions argued that Wu didn’t have the authority to throw out the memoranda of agreement (MOA) they’d signed back in the fall with the city via Kim Janey where employees could either get vaccinated or be tested.
Right before enforcement of the vaccine mandate was to begin, Suffolk Superior Judge Jeffrey Locke ruled on the side of the City of Boston, stating that the public-health concerns outweighed the collective-bargaining rights of the three public-safety unions. The enforcement was postponed and the case was sent to Singh who came back with a ruling on Tuesday nullifying Locke’s decision.
Negotiations about this mandate have pretty much come to a halt between the police and fire unions. Last week, Local 718 posted a letter on social media stating the Mayor Wu and the City of Boston have walked away from negotiations. They also brought up the point that the City of Boston removed the B Together mandate from a proposal they had made and stated that they themselves are unsure if the mayor has the power or authority to issue this mandate. You can read the letter here.
The Boston Teacher’s Union did come to an agreement with the city last week which allows testing in addition to unvaccinated educators to work when COVID numbers are low and can use accrued paid time off when numbers spike.
So now what?
The case will continue on in the hands of the Department of Labor Relations. The injunction issued by Singh will stop Wu and the City of Boston from enforcing the employee vaccine mandate until the case can be heard by the Department of Labor Relations.