By Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa
Published in the Detroit News, June 2, 2021
The coronavirus pandemic has held America captive for some 15 months, taking the lives of nearly 600,000 of our loved ones, making millions sick and jeopardizing the economic stability of tens of millions more. It has wreaked devastation and changed the way we live for the worse.
That, however, doesn’t need to be our nation’s future. Thanks to the rollout of several COVID-19 vaccines, hardworking Americans and their families are on the cusp of reclaiming their lives, just in time for summer. The Biden administration wants to make sure 70% of adults have received at least one shot by July 4. And everyone must do what they can to get us back on track.
The Teamsters understand what is at stake when it comes to combating this pandemic. Teamsters have been working on the front lines, keeping our communities safe and our economy moving. The union is doing all it can to not only deliver the vaccine, but to create opportunities for members to be vaccinated as well. And those efforts have not been lost on elected officials, who are noticing and giving thanks to the union.
From coast-to-coast, UPS Teamsters have played a critical role in transporting shots to small towns and big cities alike. From the first day a vaccine was available, Teamsters were there to ship it and then deliver it to immunization sites so Americans could get much-needed protected from the virus.
Back in March, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and several members of Congress got to see that effort firsthand when they visited the company’s Landover, Maryland, facility. Buttigieg lauded the efforts of the Teamsters, saying the work they were doing would ensure the lives of Americans could begin to return to normal.
But it hasn’t stopped there. In Chicago, the Teamsters coordinated with the Chicago Federation of Labor to organize a vaccine clinic in April geared toward union households. Teamster pharmacists administered the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to their fellow union members, upwards of 1,200 immunizations each day. The union has been involved with similar events all around the country.
The Teamsters have a vested interest in snuffing out the coronavirus. After all, more than a million of our members are essential workers and put their lives and those of their families at risk to show up on the job each day, whether it is working for a hospital, a food processing facility, a supermarket or delivering some of the goods purchased by their fellow Americans. They deserve to be safe.
That won’t happen, however, unless more people get immunized. More than 160 million have already gotten at least one shot. But we can’t stop there. If the U.S. is going to defeat this foe, citizens have to go out and get the vaccine. Supply is no longer an excuse — it is available almost everywhere.
We can’t let politics infiltrate what is just good policy. This shouldn’t be about who you did or didn’t support for president. It should be about you and your loved ones. You want to see yours. I want to see mine. Let’s give ourselves, and our nation, real independence this Fourth of July.
Get vaccinated please.