March 27, 2020 Update from Secretary-Treasurer Mike Cales on COVID-19
March 27, 2020
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In just one week’s time, we have seen the impact of COVID-19 has increased exponentially. The numbers don’t lie, and the seriousness of this situation cannot be overlooked. We must continue to follow the mandates of our state and federal public health agencies and departments as closely as we can — they’ve been established with our communities’ safety in mind.
The work that our fellow Americans are doing on the front lines as essential employees is absolutely incredible. Whether it be healthcare workers, police, fire fighters, EMTs, sanitation workers, corrections officers — and of course our Teamster brothers and sisters across all industries in our supply chain and beyond — without these men and women out there on the frontlines, life as we know it would come to a standstill. Workers that have been taken for granted before now shine as the heroes that we all need. Essential workers continue to face the risks of this pandemic head on in order to ensure that everyone and their families continues to go forward.
Your Local is in constant contact with your employers. We are evaluating your employers’ written procedures and policies to ensure they are providing a safe and healthy work environment. Many of your employers are moving forward with procedures to increase safety in the workplace, but I am disappointed to say that some have fallen short in that regard. Let me be clear: this is something that this administration does not tolerate. Those employers whose main focus is not the health and safety of their workers will find themselves in a difficult position to continue operations. The safety of our members is paramount, and we will take every action necessary to make sure of that. We do not accept any sentiment from employers who say they are “doing their best” — we need to see it, and we demand immediate action to ensure you are working in a safe environment. The Local has also been in conversations with your employers to make sure they recognize your dedication and make efforts to offer improved economic benefits and other creative ways to show that. We continue to discuss these types of improvements with employers who have not made such efforts.
Even in our essential industries, the reality is that many of our brothers and sisters are experiencing layoffs or a reduction in hours. Local 710 is doing everything we can to get creative and keep our members’ benefits in place. We are working with employers who are experiencing an uptick in work and actually hiring by actively getting our members who are laid off to work in those industries until they can return to their regular work. Also, thanks to the pressure exerted by unions and workers on members of Congress, the economic stimulus bill that passed this morning includes enhanced unemployment benefits that will help our laid off brothers and sisters during this difficult period.
I cannot stress enough the severity of this virus. I implore everyone who has an underlying health condition — especially any respiratory condition — to take every precaution possible. It’s better to be overly cautious. If you come in contact with someone who contracts COVID-19, it is imperative that you follow the directives closely. You may have only minimal symptoms (or even none at all), and can still pass the virus along to others. This can be completely devastating, especially to someone with an underlying condition, but also in an otherwise healthy individual. This virus affects everyone differently and may have deadly consequences. If you have symptoms, do not take chances. We cannot become slaves to economics if it puts us and our families in peril. Follow the guidelines from the WHO and CDC, and the directives of your healthcare providers. Again, our safety and health is the top priority.
This pandemic is something this country and the entire world will be dealing with for a considerable amount of time, and we must continue forward with this new normal. Your representatives have been and will continue to visit your buildings, and will continue to take your calls and emails. We are here for you. I am confident that we will get through this together. We are TEAMSTER STRONG, and we know full well that there is incredible strength in solidarity. The more we come together and support each other, the better we will come out on the other side.
Michael J. Cales