Union Halls Help Vaccine Effort
SMART SM Locals in New York City, St. Louis, Chicago and Minneapolis mobilized over the winter and spring to provide added capacity for COVID-19 vaccine distribution efforts, with union facilities functioning as injection sites for members, veterans and, in some cases, the general public. These efforts were part of a coordinated effort by building trades unions to make their facilities available to President Biden’s COVID-19 Relief Task Force for U.S. vaccine distribution. In February 2021, the Governing Board of Presidents of North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) voted unanimously to offer more than 5,000 union halls and training centers to the vaccine distribution effort.
“We are proud to work with our partners, such as Thrifty White Pharmacy and Blue Cross Blue Shield Minnesota, to offer a sponsored vaccination clinic for the community, our members and their families,” said Local 10 (Minn.) President and Business Manager Matt Fairbanks.
In St. Louis, SM Local 36 local partnered with the Veterans Administration to assist veterans with vaccine injections.
“Local 36 is proud to stand with our veterans to provide a safe, convenient location for them to receive their vaccine.”
– Local 36 Financial Secretary-Treasurer Jeremy Snyder
“Local 36 is proud to stand with our veterans to provide a safe, convenient location for them to receive their vaccine,” said Local 36 Financial Secretary-Treasurer Jeremy Snyder. He added that the union hall effectively functioned as a pop-up vaccine clinic, with sanitation crews coming in each night and doing a deep clean of the space.
SM Local 73 (Chicago) President and Business Manager Raymond Suggs, whose local partnered with Proviso Township and Jewel-Osco on the vaccination efforts, said the local was proud to offer “a safe, convenient location for members of our community to receive their vaccine.”
“Our members have been on the frontlines in battling this pandemic,” added SMART General President Joseph Sellers. “This includes producing and installing equipment critical to indoor air quality, delivering rail freight essential to keeping our economy moving and operating passenger rail and transit. We are pleased to see our efforts have been taken to the next level through the use of our union infrastructure to help with vaccine distribution.”
Because of their long history of hosting toy drives, blood drives and many other community service events, local unions have been uniquely positioned and prepared to immediately assist with broad vaccination distribution in every U.S. state. These are just a sample of many efforts across North America, as SMART has helped lead the way in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.