Boston enters new court filing in vaccine-mandate fight

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Boston enters new court filing in vaccine-mandate fight
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The Wu administration continues to push ahead in its quest to implement the weeks-delayed employee coronavirus vaccine mandate, filing a response asking the appeals court judge to lift the current stay and rule against the public-safety unions.

Mayor Michelle Wu’s lawyers filed a response Tuesday in the first move after a Massachusetts Appeals Court judge placed a hold last week on the enforcement of the rule that all city workers must get the jab. The brief ruling following unions’ appeal to the higher court came just days before the city was due to start punishing people who were out of compliance.

Wu’s attorneys largely churned through treaded ground in the new filing, reiterating and referring back to points that the city has made previously in front of Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Locke, who in early January allowed the city to go forward with enforcement. The attorneys wrote that the judge of the Superior Court, which is below the court of appeals, was right in his assessments that he shouldn’t step in.

When Locke ruled, he said he wasn’t going to tie the city’s hands in the middle of what it correctly identified as a public-health emergency, even though there could be some merit to the unions’ arguments around labor issues down the road.

The city filed its 16-page reply Tuesday afternoon, plus another few procedural pages appended on. Wu’s lawyers had until Thursday to file a response, but got their homework done early as the mayor still intends to move ahead with the mandate, which can’t go into effect until the court gives it the OK.

The mandate originally was due to go into effect Jan. 15 after Locke cleared the way for it, but then Wu pumped the breaks twice, giving workers another two weeks without enforcement.

Appeals Court Associate Justice Sabita Singh’s ruling last week halting the enforcement until further rulings by the court only applied to the members of the suing unions — the International Association of FireFighters Local 718, the Boston Police Superior Officers Federation and the Boston Police Detectives Benevolent Society — but the Wu administration said it wouldn’t go ahead with any enforcement unless the courts allowed it.

Protestors have vehemently opposed Wu’s mandate, showing up regularly at her house and at public events, as they continued to on Tuesday. The unions, which held a victory-lap press conference last week after Singh’s temporary stay, have argued that Wu violated previous agreements when she created the mandate without renegotiating memoranda of agreement.

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