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Judge Bans St. Paul From Requiring COVID-19 Vaccination for Police, Firefighters Until City Reaches Agreement With Unions

A judge ruled Thursday (June 2) that the city of St. Paul’s COVID-19 vaccination policy for police, firefighters and legions of other unionized city workers should have been part of the bargaining process, and he barred the city from enforcing it until it is approved as part of a negotiated agreement.

The employee unions filed lawsuits last year over the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employees, calling it an unfair labor practice—and the judge agreed.

The firefighters’ lawsuit noted that the city didn’t negotiate with the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 21 before making “a unilateral change to the terms and conditions” of employment for Local 21 members.

In his ruling, Ramsey County Judge Leonardo Castro noted that the city enacted an unfair labor policy by implementing the COVID-19 vaccination policy.

“It is difficult for this Court to imagine what could be more intrusive and more destructive to the employer-employee relationship than requiring employees to forfeit their bodily autonomy in the name of maintaining their livelihood,” Castro wrote in the ruling.

Unlike policies for workers at St. Paul Public Schools, Ramsey County, the city of Minneapolis and the state of Minnesota, St. Paul’s policy doesn’t include an option for employees to opt out of COVID-19 vaccination by agreeing to regular SARS-CoV-2 testing.

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