Massachusetts Highest Court Rules In Favor Of Mayor's COVID Vaccine Mandate

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BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled in favor of Mayor Wu's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city workers on Thursday, saying the mayor had the right to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations at the height of the pandemic.

The Court has lifted the lower court's injunction ruling that Mayor Wu's decision to implement the vaccine mandate in 2021 was not subject to negotiation since, "given the circumstances known at that time, the harm to the City in not imposing the mandate outweighed its employees’ rights to refrain from receiving the vaccine and keeping their employment."

In 2021, Boston Fire and Police unions challenged the mandate taking Mayor Wu and the City to court. The unions won an injunction preventing Mayor Wu from implementing the vaccine mandate since she hadn't negotiated it with the unions.

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"Importantly, though the Court lifted the injunction, it went on to confirm that the City of Boston had an obligation to impact bargain its decision to implement a vaccine mandate with the Union. The Court concluded that the Fire Union was likely to succeed on the merits of its claim at the Department of Labor that the City's hasty initial decision to set a three-week deadline for all City employees to comply with such a mandate was reasonable and not warranted by an "exigent circumstance" defense. The Court noted that the City's claim appeared suspicious especially because its deadline was less than one-half of a comparable two-month deadline imposed by the State," Attorney Leah Barrault, of Barrault and Associates LLC, said in a statement.

Attorney Barrault said The Court’s decision does not have any impact on the recent agreement between Local 718 and the City.

"I respect the Court’s decision to lift the injunction however I do not see it having any impact on our Union and members given the agreement we reached with the City in February. I encourage everyone to focus on the facts. The Court’s decision confirmed the City’s obligation to impact bargain its decision and expressed optimism regarding our success in front of the Labor Board on that issue. Not one member of Local 718 has or will be, terminated due to the Covid-19 Vaccine Mandate. We will continue serving the citizens of Boston, as we did throughout the pandemic, with a focus on public safety rather than politics. We are glad to have this matter behind us," Sam Dillon, President of Boston Firefighters Local 718, said in a statement.

The Covid-19 mandate still remains "unenforceable to the members of Local 718."

WBZ's Carl Stevens (carlwbz) has more:

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