Issued October 05, 2021
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a strong new commitment to protecting essential workers who have been on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Executive Board of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) passed a resolution Friday in support of universal vaccination, calling vaccine mandates “an important and powerful tool” that must be coupled with a “mandate for corporations and governments to do everything in their power to protect all workers.”
Approximately 81% of the union’s 2 million members are vaccinated, outpacing national averages — a result of SEIU’s leadership in boosting equitable vaccine distribution and demanding negotiations with private and public employers to win greater access, paid time off and pandemic pay. The union will continue its efforts to increase vaccination rates through member education forums, community phone-banking and door-knocking programs and vaccine pop-up clinics.
“SEIU members are committed to leading the fight for the health and safety of all working people. We are united in the belief that vaccines are the most effective way to protect workers, our families and our communities and that to achieve universal vaccination, employers and government must recognize workers’ leadership in fighting the pandemic,” said SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry. “That’s why we are bargaining with employers from coast to coast for solutions that increase vaccination rates while guaranteeing critical protections like adequate paid time off, protective equipment and pandemic pay, among others. Workers must have a seat at the table to ensure successful vaccine implementation and future safety measures.”
SEIU’s resolution called out the hypocrisy of corporations and certain elected leaders who failed to support workers as COVID-19 swept the country.
The resolution states: “As we move toward universal vaccination, we are committed as a union to holding accountable the corporations and politicians that have failed before and during the pandemic to respect, protect and pay all workers so that our communities and our democracy can thrive. We will work to defeat extremist politicians at every level who continue to deny critical protections for essential workers, prevent basic public health interventions such as masking, and promote deadly misinformation. This moment in the fight against the pandemic cannot only require vaccine mandates for essential workers—it must also require a mandate for corporations and governments to do everything in their power to protect all workers.”
SEIU Locals GOTV: ‘Get Out the Vaccine’
As trusted messengers with deep roots in their communities, SEIU’s local unions have been working to expand Covid-19 vaccine education and access since December 2020.
“The first line of defense starts at home. It’s really important to keep our families safe and protected, the same way we keep our residents safe and healthy. At times during this pandemic, I couldn’t even sleep comfortably knowing that I was putting loved ones at risk,” said Sonya Glass, a nursing home worker from Detroit, Mich. “That is why I was inspired to get vaccinated. I was one of the first 10 people at my facility to sign up for the vaccination program. And after I got my shot, I started encouraging other coworkers to get vaccinated. My passion for organizing around this work has led to a total of 260 of my coworkers getting vaccinated — including managers and staff.”
About Service Employees International Union:
The Service Employees International Union is the nation’s second-largest labor union and the largest union of healthcare workers. SEIU is an organization of nearly 2 million members united by their belief in the dignity and worth of workers and the services they provide and dedicated to improving the lives of workers and their families and creating a more just and humane society.