L.A. Firefighters Union bid is denied by judge over the vaccine mandate.
On Dec. 4, Judge Mary H. Strobel finalized her ruling and overturned a petition from the L.A. Firefighter’s Union which specified a delay to the vaccination mandate for its employees throughout the department beyond Dec. 8.
Judge Strobel denied the request for a preliminary injunction on behalf of The United Firefighters of Los Angeles City Local 12 (UFLAC) to delay the full vaccination requirements. This would have permitted the firefighter employees to prolong the mandate for a much longer time.
The Firefighter’s Union argued that the city of Los Angeles was imposing an unfair expectation on them. This ruling finalized the battle between the UFLAC and L.A. City.
The City of Los Angeles City put into effect an ordinance in August that required all workers of the L.A. County to be vaccinated with an exemption in place if a worker can prove a religious or medical purpose that would prevent them from getting the vaccine.
UFLAC requested a preliminary injunction to prevent firefighter employees from getting fired due to a lack of vaccination. The Union filed the petition on Nov. 8, arguing that firefighters should not get fired because of not following the rules of getting vaccinated. On Nov. 12, Judge Mitchell Beckloff blocked the petition and hundreds of city employees demonstrated against the full vaccination mandate, according to ABC.
The UFLAC argued that the issue must be resolved first with the L.A. City Employment Relations Board before a vaccine mandate could be implemented to its employees. “The city violated its clear legal obligations under California’s public employment relations laws by failing and refusing to bargain in good faith with UFLAC over the effects of its decision to implement a COVID-19 vaccine mandate,” the UFLAC said in their documents.
The Los Angeles Firefighter Department (LAFD) had previously fired employees for refusing to give proof of vaccination. Of those fired employees, 113 were firefighters. In November, the LAFD sent out 222 letters to firefighter employees saying that they were going to be let go without pay those who did not follow the vaccine mandate.
The UFLAC bid was primarily denied because the judge did not find sufficient evidence of the labor charges that the Union had against the L.A. City. Judge Strobel set forth a mandate that all firefighters of the LAFD should be vaccinated. The judge also cited that there is no irreparable harm that could prevent the delay of the vaccination mandate as the UFLAC requested.
Judge Strobel also specified that even if 789 unvaccinated firefighters were to leave because of the mandate, LAFD already has a supply of staff ready to replace those who would decide to leave and the LAFD had plans to ensure the safety of the public. According to NBC, Judge Strobel noted that many probationary firefighters were fully vaccinated and that they had sufficient staff workers to protect the safety of the citizens of L.A.
The attorney of Los Angeles City, Mike Feuer, said that this was “a victory for public health and safety in Los Angeles. The court recognized the emergency we’re in and the harm that enjoining implementation of the vaccine mandate could have caused. Beyond this case, the presence of the new, highly contagious variant here in L.A. underscores the importance of vaccinating our first responders indeed, of vaccinating everyone.”
The Judge also noted that there was a death toll in the firefighter department, and therefore, the public safety must be a priority to the benefit of the LAFD.