Honoring ALL Essential Workers…
On July 7th, the City of New York held a ticker-tape-parade to pay tribute to the heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic. They honored hospital workers, doctors, nurses, police, fire, sanitation, EMTs, and paramedics, along with other essential workers – all of whom deserve our deepest appreciation for being on the front-lines throughout the horrific past year and a half.
Unfortunately, there is one group of essential workers that is somehow always overlooked – Auto Mechanics and Machinists. Without the dedication and expertise of these highly skilled men and women, the emergency and other services our city relies on would just not be able to function for long. Ambulances, fire apparatus, police vehicles, sanitation trucks, and the cars, trains, and buses, that transported all the essential workers to their respective jobs, would have been out of commission! If not for the work of these Mechanics and Machinists, along with other trade-workers, the pandemic’s death-toll would have been much higher. These tradesmen were not afforded the opportunity to stay home and isolate during the pandemic, as most city employees were. Instead, they were required to risk exposure, not only for themselves but their loved ones as well, simply because they were indispensable and reported to their jobs daily to do their critical work – despite significant risk.
Just as during the horrific attack of Sept. 11, 2001, when these same workers were exposed to deadly toxins while working on equipment that supported the clean-up and recovery almost 20 years ago, their exposure during the current coronavirus crisis was no less hazardous.
Sadly, many Auto Mechanics and Machinists have lost their lives in service during both the COVID pandemic and from work associated with 9/11. The next time we honor essential workers, it would be nice if recognition were given to these same trade-workers who have always supported the work of our frontline heroes. Remember, those on the frontlines could not do their jobs without those who back them up by maintaining the equipment they use on the job, and the vehicles that get them there. It takes a team of many professionals to keep the city functioning, under both normal and emergency conditions, and if the City is going to honor its “heroes,” then that means - ALL who put their lives on the line!
With great respect for ALL essential workers who always go above and beyond,
Joseph A. Colangelo
President, SEIU NYC Local 246