Teamsters Prove They’re Up to Task Providing, Delivering Vaccines


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. But the effort hasn’t stopped there. Not only are they on the front lines delivering the immunizations, they are also in some cases putting shots in arms themselves.

In March, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and several members of Congress got to see those efforts firsthand when they visited the UPS facility in Landover, Md.

Buttigieg lauded the efforts of Local 639 members there, 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 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.”

Meanwhile, in Las Vegas in April, Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) met with Local 631 members at a UPS facility and learned about how the vaccine was being distributed. She spoke with the workers at the facility about operations and logistics needed to support vaccination efforts in Nevada and awarded drivers Bennie Harris Jr., a 35-year driver, and John Lemos, a 37-year driver, with a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition for their hard work and dedication to their jobs during the ongoing pandemic.

“Vaccines are a key tool in our effort to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic,” Rosen said. “This major public health initiative has been bolstered by the provisions I helped to secure as part of the American Rescue Plan, including over $6 billion in funding for the vaccine supply chain.”

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.

But Teamster efforts haven’t stopped there. The union joined with the Chicago Federation of Labor in April to organize a vaccine clinic geared toward union households in the Windy City. Vice President Harris visited the clinic along with Sens. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) as well as Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Local 727 Jewel-Osco pharmacists administered the Johnson and Johnson vaccine to their fellow union members. Some 1,200 immunizations have been given each day.

“I am overwhelmed with pride when I think about how Teamsters Joint Council 25 members helped with the vaccine rollout during every step of the process, and continue to be an integral part,” Joint Council 25 President Terrence J. Hancock said. “Our Teamster drivers deliver the vaccine, our Teamster pharmacists administer the vaccine, and now we’re partnering with the Chicago Federation of Labor to connect our Teamster frontline essential workers with access to the vaccine. No matter the task, Teamsters Joint Council 25 members get the job done!”

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.

Keeping members 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.