Health and Safety, Law and Politics, Municipal Government, New York

Thanking All of New York City’s Workers for their Sacrifices During COVID-19 Outbreak

March 23, 2020

By NYC Councilmember Benjamin Kallos

New York is currently facing a pandemic that is challenging many of the systems we take for granted. Millions of us must now work, learn, and live — exclusively at home. We are able to do this because of the countless heroes who are keeping this City’s essential infrastructure running.

While many of us are safe in our homes, there are workers, some making as little as $15 an hour some without benefits, who are putting their health and their families’ health at risk to keep New York City safe. These workers, who do so much, also receive little recognition for their efforts, as much of their work is done out of sight. Maintenance workers, cleaners, transit workers, healthcare workers, grocers, all have been affected by this pandemic in unseen ways. Join us in showing our appreciation. Ask yourself these questions:

Did you or someone you know receive medical attention during this pandemic?

Voice your appreciation for the doctors, nurses, and healthcare support staff, members of the SEIU Doctors Council,  New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA), New York Professional Nurses Union (NYPNU), and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 1199, who are using limited resources to care for patients testing positive for coronavirus throughout this pandemic.

While you are at it, thank “New York’s Bravest,” our local firefighters, paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMTs), represented by the Uniformed Firefighters Association (UFA) and Uniformed Fire Officers Association (UFOA),  as well as District Council 37, who respond to every 911 call, putting out fires and rescuing residents. These workers regularly risk their lives for our collective safety, but now more so than ever.

As our storefronts and institutions have closed, we’ve remained safe because of “New York’s Finest,” our NYPD, represented by the Police Benevolent Association (PBA), the Sergeants Benevolent Association (SBA), Detective Endowment Association (DEA), Lieutenants Endowment Association (LEA), Captains Endowment Association (CEA),  and the rest of the Uniformed Officers Coalition (UOC).

Were you able to take the subway or a bus since the beginning of this pandemic? 

Thank the MTA employees, members of Transit Workers Union (TWU) Local 100 and the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), who move millions of people each day and now transport essential personnel who must also work through this pandemic. Not only that, but they are cleaning and sanitizing trains, buses, stations, and other heavily used areas around the clock to keep us all safe.

Were you able to get last-minute supplies at your local grocery or corner store?

Thank the members of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW). As the shelves emptied, they stayed late and restocked. They remain at work providing essentials to New York City residents as the rest of us rush to get our emergency provisions and go home. Our Teamsters are driving the trucks and maintaining the supply chain of food and supplies these stores need to keep us fed.

Has your building kept up maintenance and other services?

Many of us live in buildings with many neighbors that all depend on the heat to work, trash to go out, and countless other tasks that keep this running. Thank our superintendents, maintenance workers, and poor people, many of whom belong to 32BJ SEIU along with building engineers who belong to the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 94.

Are you able to telecommute from home?

It takes a small army to keep the lights on and Internet online courtesy of workers at the Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) Local 1-2 and Communications Workers of America (CWA). None of us would be able to work remotely if not for the efforts of these workers. 

Are you or your children able to receive an education?

Our principals, teachers, school administrators, and support staff have been hard at work, with some staffing Regional Enrichment Centers for children of employees in essential industries and offering free breakfast and lunch, while many others rise to the challenge of “Teach at Home.” Thank you to the principals and administrators at the Council of School Supervisors & Administrators (CSA), teachers and paraprofessionals at the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), school safety officers at Teamsters Local 237, and school food workers of District Council 37 Local 372.

Higher education has also gone online, including the more than a quarter of a million students at the City University of New York thanks to the more than 30,000 faculty and staff at the Professional Staff Congress (PSC).

Our healthcare workers, first responders, and other essential personnel would not be able to do what they are doing without the help of workers from District Council 37 (DC 37) at child care centers who are providing our healthcare workers, first responders, and educators with the vital child care they need at Regional Enrichment Centers and countless daycare providers that have stepped in our time of need.

Have you continued to receive your mail and packages?

While many of us strive to “buy local,” online shopping has become increasingly important as non-essential stores are ordered to close. As package delivery exponentially grows, the members of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) and Teamsters are really delivering now more than ever. The United Postal Service takes pride that “neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” Perhaps, they should now add, “nor global pandemic.”

Have you continued to receive your City services?

As our city services continue to function, with some working from home, and far too many deemed essential and forced to come in every day, we must thank our civil servants at the District Council 37 (DC 37), Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1180, and the Organization of Staff Analysts (OSA). We must also thank the newly formed Association of Legislative Employees (ALE) for fighting to protect the health of their members by securing a work from the home commitment from the Council while somehow working harder and longer hours to deliver vital services for their constituents. Our City government continues to function, because of their commitment and diligence.

Have you had a delivery from your favorite restaurant or bar?

A heartfelt thank you to our brothers and sisters in the foodservice industry, many of whom do not have the same protections won by organizing — many of whom are undocumented and have kept New Yorkers fed by preparing and delivering meals.

Thank you to the thousands of workers who I have not identified, across different sectors, who continue breathing life into the City. 

Although their efforts are not always seen, in times of emergency, our city depends on our workers’ courage, strength, and dedication. Recognize these efforts. Thank our workers.

March 23, 2020

2 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Thanking All of New York City’s Workers for their Sacrifices During COVID-19 Outbreak”

  1. Anon says:

    These “Thank You” posts have gone from making me kind of sad to kind of angry. This one may have just brought extreme annoyance.
    Yes, the first responders are important, I am not taking that away from them. Nor am I taking anything from whomever else is listed here. But I have been subjected to going to work on public transportation every day during this ordeal to be told that I am an “essential worker” but not as important as a first responder. I have children at home, including an infant, that I risk bringing illness home to everyday. I have to leave my house at 4:45am to be at work by 7 to do a job that can, in actuality, be done from home. So I’m starting to feel some type of way the more I realize how truly thankless this job is, especially in a post where BARTENDERS are glorified!
    Ever call 311? You’re welcome.

  2. Tee says:

    You failed to mention NYPD School Safety Agents. But there’s no surprise there, we were also forgotten by our union, Local 237. We are protecting and serving at many grab-n-go sights as well as first responder education sites for children. We were told to practice social distancing, but we’re removed from our building and crammed (21 agents) into the learning sites along with teachers, children and kitchen staff. These sites are extremely small, we are getting major violations for not distancing although it’s physically impossible in the small buildings. After 10 days we were given 2 pairs of latex gloves, one disposable mask and hand sanitizer which lasted one day. We have a 40 hour work week, are crammed into one building with groups of people and don’t have PPE. How can be respond properly when we are now spreading the virus around the children? We need help and we need it quick.

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