The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Vaccine Mandates Reinforce Extreme Right-Wing

Oct 25, 2021

The City of Chicago imposed a vaccine mandate for all city employees as of October 15, and has suspended without pay those who haven’t uploaded their vaccine status.

The vaccines appear to be safe and effective, humanity’s best tool against COVID-19. Yet as of mid-October, only about 70% of Chicago adults have been fully vaccinated. The unvaccinated are overwhelmingly working class and poor: according to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation in September, the biggest predictor of whether someone would get vaccinated was not political affiliation, but whether or not someone had health insurance. And in Chicago, those without insurance and those least likely to be vaccinated are disproportionately Black and Latino. Among these groups, only about half of adults are fully vaccinated.

To these parts of the population, the vaccine mandates can feel like a direct attack on their livelihoods and lives, forcing them to get something they have many reasons not to trust.

But by far the most prominent person in Chicago to express the anger of those whose livelihoods are threatened if they don’t get the vaccine is the far-right mouthpiece John Catanzara, the notorious, Trump-supporting leader of the police union. This is the same man who famously threatened to kick out of the union any cop who kneeled with protestors after George Floyd’s murder, who defended the January 6 rioters, and who called the cop who killed 13-year-old Adam Toledo “heroic.” He says that he does “not believe the city has the authority to mandate that to anybody, let alone that information about your medical history and change the terms of your employment so to speak on the fly.”

Most of the city’s unions are tied to the Democratic Party and have held back from speaking out against the mandates. With no working class organization able to call to account the government and big companies who are really responsible for the disaster of the pandemic, people like Catanzara are left to pose as the representatives of those who are most angry at the system. This, even though many of those who don’t trust the vaccine are also those most likely to be brutalized by the cops Catanzara represents, and by the far-right whose ideas he expresses.