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COVID-19 Vaccines Provide Hope

Since the beginning of this pandemic, the ATU has been fighting to protect our members’ safety and health and the communities we serve. We have issued demands for safety barriers, social distancing, rear-door loading, and other measures meant to hinder the spread of the virus. Our efforts have been designed to buy time until safe and effective vaccines become available. That time has arrived. This critical step forward hopefully signals the beginning of the end of this deadly virus. 

Vaccines have now been approved through a rigorous, open, and transparent review process by independent scientific and public health experts after numerous multi-phase clinical trials of tens of thousands of people. These vaccines are a vital tool to help defeat COVID-19.

 

ATU leads the way in fight for transit worker priority access

Before vaccines became available, the ATU led the way by pushing for frontline, hero transit workers to be prioritized for vaccine access. ATU International President John Costa wrote a letter to every governor to inform them of the request and offer logistical support in vaccine distribution.

“The recent promising news of multiple quality vaccines for the coronavirus has lifted the spirits of all Americans, including the hundreds of thousands of transportation workers who have been on the front lines working through this very dark period in our nation’s history,” Costa wrote in the letter to governors. 

Costa also told governors that the ATU and its members could play a critical role in logistics for distributing the vaccine. The ATU could work with local governments and transit systems to transport masses of people to medical facilities or other staging areas for vaccinations or transport medical personnel, equipment, and the vaccines to the population.

In Canada, ATU also called on the federal and provincial governments to prioritize vaccine access to transit workers as the first batches of the COVID-19 vaccines were doled out. “Giving transit workers safe working conditions during a global pandemic includes priority vaccine access,” said ATU Canada President John Di Nino. “This measure is a necessary and essential step that cannot be overlooked, and we are prepared to assist all levels of government to ensure the delivery of the vaccine to all transit professionals.”  

Thanks to the ATU’s efforts, every state is vaccinating transit workers. However, in Canada, the ATU and our Locals are continuing the push for priority vaccine access as members continue to work on the frontlines of the pandemic.

 

ATU Launches COVID-19 Vaccine website

In an effort to protect ourselves, our coworkers, our families, our communities, and the transit industry, the ATU is working to ensure mass participation in vaccination programs by transit workers. The ATU has launched a COVID-19 Vaccine Information website (http://bit.ly/ATU-COVID-Vaccine) to educate and inform members about the vaccine. Included on the site is COVID-19 vaccine information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Health Canada, frequently asked questions about the vaccine, and other important information. 

 

International President Costa hosts informational vaccine zoom webinar with occupational health and safety doctor

On January 28, International President John Costa hosted a COVID-19 Vaccine Webinar featuring Dr. Bob Harrison, Occupational and Environmental Medicine at the University of California-San Francisco, to provide expert information and guidance about the COVID-19 vaccines.

Dr. Harrison, who has counseled numerous unions during the pandemic, gave a detailed presentation covering the many reasons to take the vaccine, the numerous studies showing the vaccines are both safe and the deadly impact of COVID-19 on frontline transit workers. He encouraged ATU members to get vaccinated while also acknowledging the hesitancy some communities have toward vaccination. Dr. Harrison went on to share his personal experience of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, including the mild side effects he felt. He also discussed the vaccines’ effectiveness against new COVID-19 variants and stressed the importance of continuing to wear masks and use other PPE.

After the presentation, International President Costa and Dr. Harrison had a lengthy conversation, covering many common questions about the vaccines. They also took questions from Business Agents. 

Information regarding workplace vaccination programs and the right and importance of Locals to bargain over and develop these programs was also presented. You can watch the entire ATU vaccine webinar at: https://youtu.be/fEmSUah1mX4.