The city of Boston's Covid-19 vaccine mandate for city workers was legal, according to a March 30 ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Court, after the city claimed that the ability to adequately combat the virus outweighed the risk of irreparable vaccine injuries to workers who were facing termination.
"The potential harm to the city and the public resulting from the spread of COVID-19 clearly outweighed the economic harm to the employees," wrote Justice Elspeth Cypher in the ruling.
The 2021 mandate required proof of vaccination or weekly testing - the latter of which was dropped after the Omicron variant emerged. This prompted a challenge from unions which claimed that the city had not properly negotiated the change.
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu was under advisement from Dr. Bisola Ojikutu - who told the court that the update was necessary because testing was likely insufficient to combat COVID-19 despite the fact that the vaccine performed terribly against Omicron and its subvariants.
The new ruling supercedes and overturns a 2022 preliminary injunction.
Workers who failed to get a COVID-19 vaccine under the mandate faced repercussions, including termination. Unions asked for a preliminary injunction so workers could not be punished. Their bid was initially rejected, with a trial judge finding plaintiffs had not demonstrated irreparable harm absent an injunction. Massachusetts Appeals Court Judge Sabita Singh reversed that ruling, finding that workers faced “substantial harm” if the mandate was not blocked and that the city’s failure to negotiate the policy meant plaintiffs were likely to succeed.
Singh said the case differed from others because it implicated issues of “bodily integrity and self-determination.”
Singh “abused her discretion” in issuing the injunction, which remained in place until Thursday, the state’s top court said.
The harm the plaintiffs were facing is solely economic because “they could have continued to refuse to become vaccinated and instead challenged the decision both in court and before” the Commonwealth Employment Relations Board (CERB), the court said. -Epoch Times
"Given the unique circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic and its threat to the health and safety of the public, the decision to remove the testing alternative in the defendants’ COVID-19 policy constituted a nondelegable policy decision that could not be the subject of decision bargaining because any such requirement would have impinged directly on the defendants’ ability to provide essential public safety services to city residents," reads the ruling.
Meanwhile, Boston recently agreed to drop the mandate for the plaintiffs, firefighters and superior officers because "the parties desire to resolve this matter without the expense and uncertainty of further litigation, and in promotion of harmonious labor relations between them," according to the Boston Herald.
Sam Dillon, president of Boston Firefighters Local 718, told the Epoch Times: "I respect the Court’s decision to lift the injunction however I do not see it having any impact on our Union and members given the agreement we reached with the City in February."
"The Court’s decision in no way impacts the recent agreement between Local 718 and the City, and the Covid-19 mandate remains unenforceable to the members of Local 718," added Leah Barrault, who represented the plaintiffs in the case.