City workers recently drowned out Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot with loud boos at a union fundraiser following her decision to require vaccines. The Democrat mayor was attending a reception at an annual fundraiser for the Plumbers Union Local 130, which had supported her in the 2019 runoff election.
One attendee said that Lightfoot was “booed off the stage” after only speaking about a minute.
“Almost deafening,” was how another attendee described the booing. “I was sitting at the table with a bunch of plumbers. They’re like, ‘We’ve never heard that before here.’ … Clearly, their membership is not with her. …They were calling her names. It was bad.”
A video, recorded at the event and circulated via social media, showed Jim Coyne, the union’s business manager, introducing Mayor Lightfoot, accompanied by a loud round of boos that erupted as she took the podium.
On the recording, a person is heard saying, “I knew that was going to happen.” “That’s f—ing brutal,” can be heard from another.
Although the recording has been widely circulated, union officials downplayed the boos. According to Pat McCarthy, the union’s recording secretary said Lightfoot was able to finish her remarks.
“I was there when she was speaking. There were a couple of people in the corner that booed. But it was nothing significant. And it didn’t disrupt the event at all. I would have to suspect whoever was booing at that event was not a member of this local. …We respect her, and we have no problems with the mayor,” said McCarthy.
Lightfoot’s political director, Dave Mellet, took issue with the reports and recording of the booing, stating that he is confident the union will endorse the mayor’s reelection in 2023.
“I don’t believe that she was, quote-unquote, ‘booed’ at this event. I believe she was well received. There may have been a couple of people in the room who came in there to shout and be loud,” said Mellet.
Vaccine mandate sparks ire
Lightfoot’s vaccine mandate requires city workers to report their coronavirus vaccination status or be put on unpaid leave.
Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) President John Catanzara said it’s not just his union’s members but firefighters, first responders, and labor unions that also oppose the mandate.
Catanzara said he has instructed officers to file for vaccine exemptions and has given them instructions for what they should do if given a direct order to report their vaccination status.
Both sides of the issue have taken legal action against each other. A judge recently granted the city’s request for a temporary injunction that bars Catanzara from making public comments that encourage FOP members to reject the city’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate.
However, the original injunction was not upheld in a follow-up hearing. The judge ruled that she would not extend a temporary restraining order against Catanzara.
A federal judge is expected to rule on an emergency request by more than 100 Chicago city employees and firefighters seeking a pause to the vaccine mandates imposed by Governor J.B. Pritzker and Mayor Lightfoot.
The 130 plaintiffs, made up of Chicago paramedics and firefighters, are challenging Pritzker’s mandate ordering some state and health care workers to be fully vaccinated.
They also want the requirement that risks them being placed on no-pay status if they do not comply with the mandate.
Meanwhile, in New York, the NYPD began requiring all unvaccinated officers to submit to weekly Covid-19 testing or be sent home without pay.
Mayor Bill de Blasio recently reiterated that all city employees must receive their first vaccine dose by October 29 or be put on unpaid leave until they provide current proof of vaccination.
De Blasio said the mandate would stand and that he had no plan of lifting it.