The COVID-19 pandemic is not over.
This may seem like a common-sense statement, especially in light of the extremely contagious delta variant that is going around, but many Americans are behaving as though the opposite is true.
Despite the fact that in the United States we are among the most fortunate in the world in our access to vaccine supply, the vaccination rate among Americans is not high enough to return to life as it was before the pandemic and put the disease in the rearview mirror.
COVID-19 is very much front and center, especially for Local 152 members.
All of the progress we have made in our fight for safer workplaces for members in grocery stores, health care facilities and manufacturing plants cannot be taken for granted. Safety for these workers is not something to be “fixed’” and forgotten about — it’s an everyday process.
It means our union representatives must keep ensuring that workplaces maintain the most current safety protocols. It means we must keep applying pressure on state and federal officials to enact rules to protect essential workers. It means listening to members when they tell us what more we can do to keep them safe on the job.
To be successful, we have to be flexible. With infections and hospitalizations rising across the country, we need to rethink what safety means now versus what it meant just a few months ago.
When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced in May that fully-vaccinated people no longer needed to wear a mask indoors or outdoors (with a handful of exceptions including public transportation, hospitals and air travel), that wasn’t the end of the story.
The updated CDC guidance in late July, which called for all Americans to again wear masks indoors in high-transmission areas, was a necessary step forward, but it’s not enough to stop this new explosion in COVID infections. We need urgent action from our employers and elected officials to prioritize the safety of essential workers, up to and including a national mask mandate.
Most of all, we need everyone to be vaccinated if we want to stop COVID in its tracks and finally return to normal.
If you haven’t done so already, please get vaccinated. It’s the best step we can take to ensure we don’t have to confront another variant in six months, or another, or another.
— President Brian String