UPS Teamsters across the country have been at the forefront of efforts to distribute COVID-19 vaccines ever since the first doses rolled out last December. And earlier this week, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and several members of Congress got to see that effort firsthand when they visited the company’s Landover, Md. facility.
Buttigieg lauded the efforts of Local 639 members there on Monday, saying the work they are doing will ensure the lives of Americans can begin to return to normal. It is also an example why having functional transportation networks are critical to both the health and economic needs of this nation, he added.
“So much depends on the logistical and infrastructural backbone of this country,” Buttigieg said. “So folks like delivery drivers we just met and the people here who have worked out ways to safely deliver vaccine doses, keep them cold and get them where they need to be are absolutely on the front lines of getting America through this pandemic.”
The continued distribution of the coronavirus vaccine is expected to accelerate in the coming days thanks to signing of the American Rescue Plan. The new law contains nearly $160 billion to provide the supplies, emergency response, testing and public health workforce to stop the spread of COVID-19, while distributing vaccines as quickly as possible and addressing racial disparities in COVID-19 outcomes. The success of this national vaccination program depends on vaccine and medical supplies, the scaling of vaccination sites and vaccinators, and also the transportation network itself.
The Teamsters have prioritized tackling COVID-19 as part of its Build Back Stronger campaign. Beefing up workplace safety for the more than 1 million frontline Teamsters is a critical component of the union’s focus on creating good jobs that can provide a middle-class lifestyle for hardworking Americans.
For example, the union celebrated President Biden’s executive order earlier this year that called for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to reassess COVID-19 workplace safety guidelines, including emergency temporary standards.
Keeping members like those at UPS safe is essential in the nation’s fight to conquer the coronavirus. That way they can keep the U.S. supply chain running and deliver vaccines as needed.
“The people here at UPS, the drivers are carrying the most precious cargo you can possibly have, helping to save lives,” Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said. “It’s so important that they have the logistics down because we all know you need to deliver that vaccine in a certain amount of time.”