Representing more than 1,200 active members in 14 different titles working in all city agencies, Health+Hospitals Corporation (H+H), NYC Housing Authority (NYCHA), and the City University of New York (CUNY).
I hope that you’re keeping well and safe. On behalf of the executive board, I want to wish you and your family a wonderful holiday and a happy New Year. It was with a heavy heart that we canceled the Local 300 holiday party this year. With the uptick in COVID-19 cases in the past few weeks, we believe we made the best decision for the safety and wellbeing of our members. Hopefully, next year we will find ourselves in better times to carry on with one of our favorite traditions.
We know the holidays are supposed to bring comfort and joy, but in these times, it is increasingly difficult to find. While labor remains under attack, we do have reasons to be hopeful though. Local 300 is currently negotiating with the city for our new contract, although we expect that process to be delayed as the new mayor takes office. Kellogg’s workers who have been striking for more than 10 weeks might be close to a deal, and Starbucks has unionized its first store.
It would be impossible to close out the year without mentioning COVID-19 and the vaccination mandates imposed on our workers by the mayor. Local 300 affirms your rights as an individual, which is why we participated in every suit filed by the Municipal Labor Committee against unequal mandates in the past year. The MLC lost on all counts because the court’s decision was that public health takes precedence. Your individual rights are my individual rights. I may choose not to get the vaccine for freedom of choice, but in doing so, I am infringing on your right to life and liberty. Local 300 believes in vaccinations. We want all our members to be as protected as possible against this awful virus.
Vaccines are why we no longer have polio, smallpox, cholera, and the avian flu. I’m old enough to remember neighbors in iron lungs, so I do not understand vaccine hesitancy. I do not understand when friends quote quacks like Dr. Oz who are anti-vax to make some money and win a Senate seat. Fox News and Facebook would have you believe vaccines are a means of government control or a leftist conspiracy. Tucker Carlson is a millionaire, he’s vaccinated, and he builds a platform telling people why they shouldn’t be. He is protected from the worst, but he’s more than happy to throw you all to the wolves. Society is built on individuals, but it is also built on collective action and cooperation. There is power in dialogue. There is power in taking a breath and seeing where power lies. The rich don’t want you to be an individual. They want you to be paranoid. They want you alone so you’re easy to control.
As union members, we know there is power in solidarity. We must turn our sights to private interests and corporate greed, and fight back just as our brothers and sisters are doing against Kellogg’s. Power does not fear an unvaccinated person, it fears a conscious people.
Let us all hope that 2022 focuses on more than COVID-19. We will work to get you the best possible contract from our new mayor; we promise you that. Again, I wish you a safe and restful holiday season and new year. Once the dark clouds pass, we will resume in-person membership meetings again – with a vaccine requirement, of course.