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Appeals court justice rules against Mayor Wu's vaccine mandate for city workers

An appeals court justice has halted Boston Mayor Michelle Wu's vaccination mandate for city workers.

Public safety unions had sued Wu to challenge her order. In the ruling, issued Tuesday, appellate Justice Sabita Singh overturned a Suffolk Superior Court judge's earlier rejection of police and firefighter unions' request to upend the order.

Singh said the unions would likely to succeed in their claim that the mayor should have negotiated with them over the mandate.

Attorney Patrick Bryant, who represents the Boston Police Superior Officers Federation, said the ruling is "vindication for our long-standing argument that this is about collective bargaining ... and not about the science or conspiracy theories related to vaccines."

He pointed to the fact that the city allowed unvaccinated police and firefighters to work during the worst of the omicron surge.

"So it is, from our mind, self-evidently absurd to claim that allowing them to work after the surge is abated is somehow a public safety or public health risk," he said.

In a statement, the mayor's office said it was "disappointed by today's decision" and that they city is "reviewing it carefully."

“To protect communities and workplaces against COVID-19, courts across the country have repeatedly recognized the rights of state and local governments to require public employees to be vaccinated. More than 95 percent of the City’s workforce is vaccinated because of the policy we enacted," the statement said. "Our workers and residents who rely on city services deserve to be protected."

As WBUR previously reported, the city had approved fewer than half of the 360 medical or religious vaccine exemption requests filed by city workers as of Feb. 3.

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