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Judge denies Tucson Police union's request to stop vaccine mandate for officers

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Posted at 5:26 PM, Aug 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-20 11:11:05-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — A Pima County Superior Court Judge has denied a request from a union representing Tucson Police officers to stop the city from mandating they be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The lawsuit from the Tucson Police Officers Association was filed in Pima County Superior Court earlier this week, naming the city, the mayor and members of the city council as defendants. Judge Richard Gordon heard arguments in the case Thursday afternoon, hearing from attorneys representing the city and the TPOA.

In their lawsuit, TPOA attorneys requested the judge place an injunction to stop the city's policy from taking effect. They argued the measure was against state law signed by the governor earlier this year preventing local governments from enacting vaccination mandates. City attorneys argue that law doesn't take effect until Sept. 29.

Attorneys for the TPOA also argued the vaccination was a change in the condition of employment for its officers and required the city to negotiate with the union before approving the policy.

Judge Gordon issued the ruling not long after hearing the case Thursday afternoon, saying his decision was not a finding on the "personal nature" of officers' choice to be vaccinated or not, only on the law.

"It's a tough decision, but the facts are the facts," Gordon said after issuing the ruling.

Last week in an emergency meeting, Mayor Regina Romero and the Tucson City Council voted to require all city employees to prove they had received their first shot of COVID-19 by Aug. 24. Those who did not would face a five-day suspension, and those who did would receive additional paid time off.

Judge Gordon said he wasn't sure whether the request for an injunction from the TPOA could be appealed.