Workplace safety is always an important topic, but has become even more important due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Unions have been at the forefront of valuing workplace safety.
International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 25 Director of Organizing Chris Smolinsky discussed how workers have been affected by the pandemic, the issues that arose and how some addressed these issues by organizing.
Hardships faced during the COVID-19 pandemic
Smolinsky said the response to the pandemic by the federal government was horrible. Minimizing the severity and delaying action throughout the pandemic has allowed it to ravage almost every industry.
This was then passed on to the workforce as Personal Protective Equipment was not available and equipment was not being sanitized as frequently as it could have been. Many employees had to resort to providing PPE and cleaning supplies for themselves.
For the Teamsters, members were put in high risk situations, constantly interacting with people when picking up or dropping off goods and material. Thanks to their union, these drivers were protected and could continue working safely.
Organize a union
Smolinsky said the best way to limit or eliminate workplace hazards is to organize. Unions are adamant about safety and have ensured their members are properly equipped to work on the frontline.
Ultimately, a union will protect workers from most unfair work practices and help workers feel more comfortable in their situation.
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