New York, NY – The New York State United Teachers [NYSUT] announced on Monday, that it is now accepting donations of PPE vis-à-vis its Disaster Relief Fund so that its 16,000 members in healthcare have the resources and equipment they need to treat patients and combat the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
The union’s Disaster Relief Fund was started back in 2005, and has issued more than 4,200 grants totaling $2.3 million in the years since, to help communities in New York State and around the country.
NYSUT has created a webpage detailing the different types of PPE that can be donated, which is available here.
The donations, according to NYSUT spokesperson Matt Hamilton, will be distributed based on the need at places as varied as SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, Staten Island University Hospital and St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center on Long Island.
“We’re hearing from members and we’re looking for a way to step up and help them out,” Hamilton said. “They have needs right now, they’re working long hours.”
In addition to asking for donations to the Disaster Relief Fund, the union is also starting a social media campaign so that the general public can show support and appreciation for health care professionals by posting photos of themselves accompanied by a short message.
The public can post the messages to Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram using the hashtag #HealthCareHeroes and NYSUT’s @nysut Twitter handle.
The union created a web portal to see all the messages, photos and videos posted to date, available here.
NYSUT is one of many NY-based and nationwide unions calling on the federal government to enact legislation that would provide strong protections for frontline workers against the coronavirus pandemic.
Today, U.S. Senator from Wisconsin Tammy Baldwin, introduced the Workers First Protection Act. The measure directs the Department of Labor to issue an emergency temporary standard to require certain employers to develop and implement a comprehensive infectious disease exposure control plan to protect health care workers and other employees at elevated risk from exposure to COVID-19, such as first responders, firefighters and emergency medical technicians.
“While folks are working to support our communities during this public health emergency, we must do everything we can to protect these brave men and women while they’re doing their essential jobs,” Baldwin said in a statement. “My legislation will direct the Secretary of Labor to take action and protect our workers now. We’re all in this together, so we need to protect one another as we work to get through this public health crisis and save lives.”
See the full text of the bill here.