Page 32 - November 2021
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through this process, it appears that the Department is work- ing off a secret list to call officers into headquarters. Some have been counseled at their districts and some at headquarters by exempt ranks – commander or deputy chief – as the first step of the process about how to fill out the portal.
Step 2 pits members listening to a boss read from a printed script saying something like, “Our records indicate you haven’t filled out the portal. At this time would you like to?” The script reportedly also indicates members could face termination for not doing so.
Members have been instructed to ask if they are facing a di- rect order, to which, according to field reps, they are told it’s just a counseling session. If they decline, they are stripped and sent to human resources for further processing.
At the third step, members are given the direct order to com- ply and an explanation that they could be terminated. A com- plaint register number is issued and logged in, and the decision is to either comply or stay in no-pay status. Prior to the ruling issuing the TRO, approximately 35 officers opted to stay in no- pay status rather than fill out the portal.
The TRO gives officers a pause on not having to take the vac- cine until the policy can be negotiated. Because the City has refused to negotiate, the Lodge has asked for an interest arbi- tration to rule on the policy. Additionally, the Lodge has filed for a grievance arbitration based on the argument that the current collective bargaining agreement prevents officers from being put into no-pay status until an arbitrator rules whether there was just cause for such disciplinary action.
Renowned labor attorney Joel D’Alba, who is representing Lodge 7 in this matter, indicated that following the ruling, the Lodge made some additional proposals to the City to reach a
resolution on the policy. But the Lodge is fully prepared to move forward with the arbitrations.
“We asked the City to arbitrate on this matter on an expe- dited basis a month ago, and they never said yes,” D’Alba ex- plains. “They said, ‘We don’t have to do that because the con- tract doesn’t require it.’ So that tells you their sense of urgency and that’s why we have been filing grievances and unfair labor practices saying they’re making unilateral changes on a lot of things.”
The City also seems to lack concern for the undue stress the situation is causing for officers who don’t feel they should have to disclose their vaccination status. Ortiz reports members get- ting very emotional and even breaking down to the point where peer support has been asked to help.
The distraction apparently is taking a toll well beyond the matter of vaccination.
“What does it do for an officer who is sitting in the room, lis- tening to the bosses and then expected to go back on the street and feel good about their job?” she adds. “It’s definitely killed morale to a level that I don’t know if you’ll ever get it back. And for them going through this, I just pray for their safety.”
The hypocrisy of the mandate also seems very troubling. The City did not hesitate to send officers out amid the pandemic and put them at risk of contracting COVID, which many did. And the officers didn’t hesitate.
Now, the City is demanding they not go out without being vaccinated and doing so without collectively bargaining the matter.
“I always tell people that is their own personal decision, and I don’t want to trample on any freedoms,” Noceda reminds. “Freedom to choose, to me, is a huge thing.”

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