The St. Paul Police Federation — the city’s police union — has filed a lawsuit over a COVID vaccine mandate affecting city workers.
According to the Associated Press, the union filed the suit against the city on Tuesday.
Implemented in October by St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter, the city’s vaccine mandate impacts nearly 4,000 city employees, requiring them to get vaccinated by the end of the year or face termination.
In a Wednesday statement, the St. Paul Police Federation estimated that 20% of the force — around 100 police officers — remains unvaccinated. The union said the St. Paul Police Department cannot afford to lose any more officers than it already has.
“We are already down 80 officers in a year where we’re experiencing record numbers of citizens being shot and homicides. We know that an inadequately staffed police force is a much greater danger to our community than 20% of our officers not being vaccinated,” the statement reads.
The police union added that its leaders have long negotiated with the city of St. Paul to implement a regular testing option for the unvaccinated, but to no avail.
They are not alone in their sentiments, either.
“At our last group meeting with city leadership, every bargaining group in the city agreed that the city’s vaccine mandate policy with no testing option was too extreme and not one bargaining group was willing to sign a proposed memorandum of agreement on this issue. Not a single one,” according to the statement.
The lawsuit, per the Associated Press, argues that the COVID vaccine mandate “amounts to a new condition for employment that was not negotiated with the union.”
In filing the lawsuit, the St. Paul Police Federation is asking a state judge to halt the mandate — the only measure that will prevent the mandate from taking effect.
Police departments across the United States are facing situations similar to the St. Paul PD. In Chicago, police union leadership has battled with Mayor Lori Lightfoot over the disclosure of COVID vaccination status, and in Los Angeles, the LAPD has filed a federal lawsuit against the city’s mandate.