ANN ARBOR, Mich. (FOX 2) - "We don’t want to come across as anti-vaxxers. The majority of us are vaccinated and I think we are all safe here," said Sean Stewart.
Stewart - president of the Ann Arbor Police Officers Association - is vaccinated himself, but says the union is against the city mandating the Covid vaccine for his officers or any employee.
Stewart, who is also an Ann Arbor patrol officer, says it's simply not necessary. Officers have continuously worked University of Michigan football games with more than 100,000 people - not to mention thousands of college kids on a daily basis, and haven't had a positive Covid case since last April.
"The goal the city set 70 percent for each union and every employee - and we superseded that," he said. "It’s proven very successful here."
In August, Ann Arbor's acting City Administrator John Fournier issued a mandate that city employees had to be vaccinated by Oct. 8th or they could be terminated.
It was recently pushed to November after Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a new state law that said public agencies couldn't mandate the vaccine.
"I think there is a better way of going about this than forcing people out the door," Stewart said. "We have some great employees and officers. We have been through hell and back over the last year and a half. This is no way to treat us at this point."
In response, Fornier sent FOX 2 this statement:
"The safety of our employees and the community is our top priority—and the best thing we all can do to end this pandemic is get one of the safe, effective, and free vaccines that have been authorized by the FDA. Ann Arbor will be implementing the most strict vaccine mandate that we are legally able to, and so we encourage all of our employees to get vaccinated as soon as possible before the mandate takes effect."
Sean Stewart, president of the Ann Arbor police union.
While legalities are being worked out - Ann Arbor's administration is negotiating with the police union to determine if they can reach a compromise.
About 75 percent of the rank and file have been vaccinated but Stewart tells us the remaining are reluctant because of health issues or religious reasons. And with a staffing shortage, they can't afford to lose any officer.
FOX 2: "What if you lost someone to Covid?"
"It would be a shame it would be horrible," he said. "But I believe people who are left have that choice to make."