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SEIU6 CALLS ON STATE TO EXTEND VACCINE ELIGIBILITY TO ALL ESSENTIAL WORKERS
As Washington State expands vaccine eligibility next week, essential janitors and security officers will once again be left off the list. While SEIU6 has partnered with the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) to appeal to Governor Inslee and the State Department of Health to expedite access for these workers, janitors and security officers are being told to wait.
Representing a largely immigrant, majority BIPOC workforce, SEIU6 understands vaccine access as a racial justice and immigrant rights issue. The same workforce that’s been called upon to report to work every day to clean and protect commercial buildings during a pandemic has been denied early protection against the virus.
“It’s hard to be told to wait your turn when we’ve been on the frontlines of this pandemic since day one. Every day, we leave our families to clean and sanitize essential businesses. Many of us take the bus to work, and a lot of us face crowded break rooms and lax safety standards. At the end of the day, you’re just praying you don’t catch it and bring it back to your family. We’ve been feeling this stress for more than a year. We need this vaccine yesterday.” —Ambar Arellano, Janitor and SEIU6 Executive Board Member
Security officers, many of whom have taken on additional duties including mask enforcement and COVID screenings, continue to wait for vaccine access.
“I can’t stress how important it is for security officers to get vaccinated. Just to breathe that sigh of relief after one year of putting our families in jeopardy, going out every day to do this job. The second I’m eligible, I’m going to be in that line.” —Demetrus Dugar, Security Officer and SEIU6 Executive Board Member
SEIU6 airport workers are included in the current phase of vaccine eligibility. After a year of disproportionately high COVID-19 rates in Black and brown communities, many Sea-Tac passenger service workers are taking steps to get vaccinated.
“It’s been a stressful year at Sea-Tac with too many workers crowded together, too many coworkers getting sick with COVID. We’re grateful we have the vaccine now and we want all essential workers to have the same.” —Edwin Gomez, Sea-Tac Airport Worker
“We appreciate all that Governor Inslee and the Department of Health have done to keep Washington safe during this pandemic. We know that their handling of this crisis has saved the lives of countless Washingtonians, and that their vaccination plan aims to do the same. But we’re calling on them to expand access to essential workers of all ages immediately, because these are the communities who have been hit the hardest, not just by COVID infection and mortality rates, but by the stress of providing for your family as an underpaid essential worker during this pandemic. These are the folks who have kept the lights on for the rest of Washington.” —SEIU6 President Zenia Javalera