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Los Angeles Police Union sues city over deployment of COVID-19 vaccination warrant

The union that represents the Los Angeles police base has filed a lawsuit against the city over its COVID-19 vaccination mandate for city employees, alleging that the city negotiated the terms of the policy in bad faith and inappropriately tries to pass associated costs on to agents.

The Los Angeles Police Protective League reiterates in its lawsuit filed in California Superior Court on Friday a claim it made publicly earlier this week that the city withheld information about the contractor it has hired to test unvaccinated employees for COVID-19.

City policy requires unvaccinated employees to take COVID-19 tests twice a week and pay for these tests by deducting $ 65 from their paycheck per test, unless they are granted a test. ‘medical or religious exemption from the warrant, in which case they would be reimbursed.

The union alleges that the test plan appears to “involve conflict of interest issues”. Earlier this week, he raised concerns that the contractor is co-owned by Fire and Police Pensions Commissioner Pedram Salimpour. The union alleges that the city withheld this information during its collective bargaining with the union over the term of office.

The city has denied any irregularities. In a statement released this week, the personnel department said it had reviewed seven test vendors and that Bluestone was selected “because it was the only company capable of offering the variety of services needed at a competitive rate, including vaccination card verification, daily symptom monitoring, testing with a very sensitive and convenient process for employees using PCR saliva test, testing tracking, submission and tracking of COVID-19 vaccine exemptions, and counseling testing health services. “

Salimpour said earlier this week that he had complied with “applicable ethical laws” and that “the claims made by LAPPL are thankfully false.” Salimpour did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.

The city said the city council has decided to suspend bidding restrictions under accepted protocols for emergencies such as COVID-19.

The union also alleges that the city’s decision to pass the cost of the tests on to employees when the tests are a condition of their professional duties is a violation of labor law. He asks the court to prevent the city from implementing the requirements before taking further action in collective bargaining, and to prevent it from charging agents fees for the tests.

City council this week approved a plan on what would happen to employees who failed to follow its vaccination rules, passing a resolution that concluded “there is a compelling need for such unilateral action to protect public health and safety “. City officials described it as their “last, best, and final offer” on how the requirements would work.

The LAPPL lawsuit follows two others brought against the city by groups of police and firefighters, who allege that the vaccination warrant violates their rights and ignores the protection some of them enjoy against antibodies obtained during a previous infection with COVID-19.

A judge this week rejected a request by prosecuting police for a temporary restraining order that would have blocked some of the city’s demands, such as requiring employees to use a designated form to request religious exemptions.

Health experts say vaccines are safe and very effective, especially in reducing the more serious symptoms that cause people to go to intensive care facilities in hospitals. Experts also recommend vaccinating people who have already contracted COVID-19.

Yet the deployment of such warrants has been controversial not only in Los Angeles but in cities across the country, and law enforcement has been responsible for some of the biggest failures. Police officers are also among the employees health advocates most want to see vaccinated, given their frequent interaction with the public and the vital role they play in maintaining public safety.

The LAPD has seen more than 3,000 employees fall ill with COVID-19 and, this week, more than 100 staff were recovering at home, LAPD chief Michel Moore said.

Moore said about 74% of LAPD employees had at least one dose of a vaccine this week, which is an increase for the department but remained below the 80% of LA County residents aged 12 and over. more who have received at least one dose.

Hundreds of additional police workers had COVID-19, Moore said. Recent data showed that hundreds of officers still had not told the department if they were vaccinated.

Moore said the push to get officers vaccinated has been a “turbulent time,” but the department is “committed to a fully vaccinated workforce.”

Thousands of LAPD staff have filed an intention to seek a medical or religious exemption, sparking some skepticism from critics of the department and Police Commission Chairman William Briggs as to the legitimacy of the claims. .

Times editor Emily Alpert Reyes contributed to this report.

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