The union representing LAPD officers lost a round Wednesday in its lawsuit alleging unfair labor negotiations related to the COVID-19 vaccination mandate for municipal employees when a judge denied its members’ request for a temporary restraining order against the directive.
The Los Angeles Police Protective League alleges the city failed to negotiate in good faith by withholding information about the city’s testing contractor, Bluestone. According to the union, the city did not disclose information about the company’s contractual obligations, experience level, selection process and other issues.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff said the union did not provide sufficient showing of any immediate harm if a TRO was not granted. He scheduled a hearing on a preliminary injunction for Dec. 8.
Despite repeated inquiries, the city has refused to provide the LAPPL with the information it has requested, yet has insisted that testing of unvaccinated employees can only be administered by a city vendor of its choice and with the employee to pay the costs of such tests through pay check deductions, the suit states.
The union also seeks to stop the city from requiring unvaccinated employees to pay for their COVID tests, at $65 per test, twice a week.
“Moreover, the city has unlawfully refused to wait until local impasse procedures are exhausted … on grounds of the existence of an emergency which is not … supported by the facts in this case,” the union’s court papers stated.
Los Angeles’ vaccination mandate was recently updated and the deadline for employees to get shots is now Dec. 18.
Mayor Eric Garcetti called the mandate “critical to protecting the health and safety of our workforce and the Angelenos we serve.”
Through Dec. 18, unvaccinated employees have to submit to two COVID-19 tests per week, and $65 per test will be deducted from their paychecks. Employees have to get tested during their free time, and testing has to be conducted “by the city or a vendor … of the city’s choosing,” according to the CAO’s report approved by the City Council.
According to that report, employees who receive a vaccination exemption are required to test with Bluestone once a week, but those tests will be paid for by the city and be allowed during paid time.
Attorney Richard Levine, on behalf of the LAPPL, told the judge that three officers are already in danger of losing their jobs and nearly 3,000 others could find themselves in the same position. He said officers sent home on leave also face a stigma.
However, Assistant City Attorney Vivienne Swanigan told Beckloff that all officers will receive 30 days pay before being placed on unpaid leave.
Bluestone’s parent company, PPS Health, is partially owned by Los Angeles Fire and Police Pensions Commissioner Pedram Salimpour, which prompted the LAPPL president to call for an investigation into potential corruption related to the $3 million contract with Bluestone.
Salimpour also donated $1,000 to the mayoral campaign of City Attorney Mike Feuer, according to his campaign, which said it was an unsolicited donation.