Appeals court judge puts Boston worker vaccine mandate on hold

BOSTON — An appeals court judge on Thursday issued a setback to Mayor Michelle’s Wu push to have all city workers vaccinated.

The order came from a single appeals court judge - Associate Justice Sabita Singh.

Singh ruled “..the City of Boston’s COVID-19 Vaccine Verification or Required Testing Policy mandating that employees represented by the plaintiff unions be vaccinated and verify their full vaccination status temporarily stays pending review of the Superior Court’s January 12, 2022 order denying the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction and further order of this court or a single justice thereof.”

The suit was filed Wednesday by the Boston Firefighters Union Local 718, the Boston Police Superior Officer Federation, and the Boston Police Detectives Benevolent Society.

The unions say their members “overwhelmingly rejected Mayor Wu’s one-sided deal,” and that “City employees are unified in demanding respect for collective bargaining and the dedication of public servants.”

On Sunday, Mayor Wu delayed implementation of the mandate, for a second time, until this coming Monday.

PREVIOUS: Boston Mayor Wu extends COVID-19 vaccine mandate deadline for city workers

Wu announced the mandate back in December. The deadline for vaccination proof was initially set for January 15.

Wu said as of 2 p.m. Sunday, 18,265 employees comply with the policy.

In a statement Thursday afternoon, Mayor Wu said “The policy has already helped us reach 95 percent vaccination across our City workforce, overwhelming support for public health and the safety of our colleagues and the communities we serve. Vaccination is our most powerful tool in this ongoing public health emergency, and we look forward to filing our response with the court.”

The Boston Police Superior Officers Federation released this statement after the ruling:

“Over the past few months, Mayor Wu has undermined collective bargaining and the labor rights of so many city workers. This has never been an anti-vaccine issue. Mayor Wu ignored written agreements and refused to meet with unions in good faith. The unions never espoused any anti-vaccine sentiments or conspiracy theories. We voiced labor concerns.”

“Today the Federation took another step forward thanks to the court’s order staying the deadline pending our appeal. This is just yet another indication that we are doing the right thing. The City now, per the court order, will not be able to enforce the mandate against firefighters, police supervisors, or detectives until our appeal has been heard and decided on. We invite the Mayor, in a show of good faith, to hold off applying the mandate as to teachers and patrol officers gave ongoing labor concerns.”

Boston Firefighters Union Local 718 is expected to address the judge’s ruling at 4:00 p.m. Monday. Watch for updates on Boston 25.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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