Union members develop a set of principles to guide continued vaccine rollout.
Los Angeles, CA–The long-term caregivers of SEIU Local 2015 spent the past 18 months on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. They saw the ravages up close in nursing homes and private homes up and down the state. They’ve been at the forefront of promoting vaccination in the fight against COVID-19 since it first became available—to protect their vulnerable clients as well as themselves and their families.
“Through our ‘We Can Do It!’ campaign, we’ve helped tens of thousands of our long-term care providers, their families, and their vulnerable clients access vaccinations across the state,” said SEIU Local 2015 President April Verrett. “We believe vaccination is the best weapon available in the battle against this pandemic, protecting against infection and slowing the development of dangerous variants. Our members are determined to be part of reining in this devastating disease. Together, we will defeat COVID-19.”
These pandemic heroes—primarily women of color—understand the issues on the front line. They recently developed guidelines recommended for both public and private health agencies to ensure that any mandate also include support and accommodations that make vaccines accessible.
“Last year at the beginning of the pandemic, the nursing home where I work was hit hard,” said Christina Lockyer, a Nurse Assistant in Bakersfield. “More than 100 of my co-workers got it. We weren’t provided the proper PPE. It was so bad that the state had to send EMTs to come work here. We lost 19 of our patients to COVID. I’m proud that our Union is leading the way to encourage vaccination. We’re caring for sick people and we need to do everything we can to protect them. That’s why I was part of the working group that developed guidance we want our employers to follow. I want any of my co-workers who might still be on the fence about vaccination to know that they’ll be supported.”
Union members’ recommendations include:
- Making sure that vaccines are available either at or near the workplace;
- Providing paid sick time for any side effects, including support for any medical follow-up needed;
- Workers must be allowed a reasonable time period to become vaccinated—they should not be told “it’s just a shot, come in to work anyway” if they’re feeling flu symptoms;
- Accommodation must be made for those who can’t get vaccinated, whether due to health or religious reasons;
- Any vaccine mandate must take into account staffing shortages and any impact on staffing;
- Vaccinations are NOT a replacement for sufficient and proper PPE, isolation of anyone infected, and other safety precautions.
To learn more about SEIU Local 2015 visit www.SEIU2015.org or on social media @SEIU2015.