Phoenix police, firefighters join suit against vaccine rule

coronavirus vaccine filephoto
Posted at 3:45 PM, Nov 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-22 19:24:34-05

PHOENIX — PLEA and the United Phoenix Firefighters Association are now part of a lawsuit aimed at stopping a Biden Administration vaccine mandate for federal contractors.

The city of Phoenix announced Friday all city employees must get the COVID-19 vaccine or face losing their jobs.

The two unions say they’re already facing critical personnel shortages and the mandate will send more people packing.

“I couldn’t tell you off the top of my head what percentage of our membership is vaccinated. Or unvaccinated,” said Executive Vice President Bryan Willingham of the United Phoenix Firefighters Association. “I just know it is dividing all of them. It’s hurting the community right now even before we get into the mandate.”

Nearly 90% of the calls to Phoenix Fire are medical calls. Like doctors and nurses, they are on the frontlines of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Unlike doctors and nurses, Willingham says many of his members are not convinced the vaccine works.

“Anyone who would want to judge us as a local for defending these members or those members who are choosing not to get vaccinated, the information has been confusing enough, I don’t know how anybody deciphers through, it I really don’t,” Willingham said.

Attorney General Mark Brnovich filed a lawsuit two weeks ago, arguing the Biden Administration’s vaccine mandate for all federal contractors is unconstitutional.

“You have the Biden Administration essentially mandating every employee in the city, whether they work in the library, police and fire departments, whatever, has to get the vaccine. We don’t think that is constitutional,” Brnovich said.

The city of Phoenix says it is considered a federal contractor, so it must honor the mandate.

City Manager Jeff Barton believes city workers will comply.

“I think our employees will step up and do the right thing,” Barton said.

But the actions of the police and fire unions suggest otherwise.

Governor Doug Ducey said the vaccine mandate will only hurt Phoenix, a city already in need of both police officers and firefighters.

“It’s not being received well I can tell you on both the police force and the fire department,” the governor said Monday.

“I had one of those friends call me and say if they’re going to terminate him he’s going to take the termination, he is not ready to get the vaccine.”

The U.S. Department of Justice has until December 3 to respond to the amended Brnovich lawsuit.

The city of Phoenix is giving employees until January 18 to show they’re vaccinated.

Also Monday, two Republican members of the Arizona Corporation Commission proposed that regulated utilities be fined up to $5,000 per violation if they require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.