Los Angeles, California, is just one of many major U.S. cities with sweeping COVID-19 mandates impacting citizens from various walks of life.
Although the requirement for all city employees faced challenges in court ahead of its effective date later this month, a judge rejected a police union’s request to issue a preliminary injunction blocking the mandate.
“It’s more important than ever”
Instead, the Los Angeles County judge ruled that the rule could go into effect while the broader challenges presented in the lawsuit were being considered.
As the Washington Times explained, a similar lawsuit on behalf of city firefighters was also rejected in recent weeks.
For his part, City Attorney Mike Feuer offered a celebratory statement in response to the latest development.
“For the second time this month, a court has rejected a shortsighted attempt to halt implementation of the city’s vaccine mandate for first responders,” he said. “Last week marked the one-year anniversary of the first COVID vaccination. Today as COVID cases are on the rise in Los Angeles, it’s more important than ever that all first responders get vaccinated.”
The Los Angeles Times noted that this was the second setback for the Los Angeles Police Protective League.
“We are disappointed”
Last month, L.A. County Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff rejected a request for a temporary restraining order. Although he tentatively denied the requested injunction last week, he subsequently agreed to grant the issue further consideration, resulting in his final ruling on Monday.
At the heart of the legal conflict is a claim by the police union that the city’s vaccine mandate had not been negotiated in good faith and constituted a violation of an existing labor agreement. Specifically, the complaint asserts that unvaccinated workers would be forced to undergo twice-weekly COVID-19 testing at their own expense.
According to the Los Angeles Daily News, unvaccinated employees who had received a medical or religious exemption would only be required to undergo testing once per week — and those tests would be paid for by the city.
The union also raised concerns about a perceived conflict of interest involving the company contracted to provide the tests. Bluestone is co-owned by Pedram Salimpour, who is also the commission of the city’s Fire and Police Pension program.
In a statement to the Times, the union explained: “We are disappointed by the denial of our preliminary injunction that would have prevented Los Angeles Fire and Police Pension Commissioner Pedram Salimpour from profiting off of city workers through his company, Bluestone. We believe the $3 million no-bid contract awarded to Bluestone, a company that does not own a COVID testing facility and does not manufacture the COVID tests, was done so in a non-transparent manner that violated the law and we are evaluating all of our options.”