Effective yesterday, the NYC Department of Transportation notified our Street Lighting contractors that their employees must be vaccinated or provide a weekly negative COVID test to work on their projects. Sounds simple enough. A weekly negative test for non-vaccinated employees is at least some protection for those who are vaccinated and at risk from individuals who refuse to get the shot, and that’s a plus. Since the test will be a requirement in order to go to work, though, the Union believes the employer should pay for the test and either allow the test to be taken on company time like the required mandatory drug tests or to compensate the employee if they test weekly on their own time.
The employers disagree. They want the member to pay for the test and to take the test on their own time. The challenge is that some members might be willing to comply in order to keep their jobs and that would disadvantage others who don’t. It’s kind of like the shop guy that is willing to go to the shop early using his own car and delivering tools and materials to his job and not putting in the time. That is a violation of the “A” contract, and it is in the contract to protect all of us from having to decide to work for nothing in order to keep our jobs. Today it's taking a test on your own time and paying around $100.00 a week just to go to work. I say, what’s next? Either this membership stands together and we are all protected or the jobs go to those willing to work for the least. These tests are not medically necessary and should not be paid for by our funds.
This serious situation is evolving, and members have already been sent home for not being in compliance on Monday. In order to maintain your medical coverage, you are working for a contributing contractor or you are unemployed/registered and available, there is no such thing as being sent home. There are other City agencies that will demand the same requirements of vaccination or tests, and it would be unfortunate if contractors default because of their refusal to work this out. In fact, this is the first time they have decided to go to the mat. Let’s hope our membership stands shoulder to shoulder to face this challenge. This is a test. It’s crunch time, so stand tall, Local 3!