Dear Sisters and Brothers,
The last few weeks have been unlike anything we have ever seen. Our nation has essentially shut down. From the family run shop on the corner to the largest chains to the airlines and passenger railroads, we are all getting accustomed to a new normal. If you do not personally know someone who has contracted the virus, I am afraid that you will before this is over.
How long this will last is not yet known. This economic crisis is being driven by a virus that knows no rules. All we can do is prepare and react, and listen to the best advice scientists can offer.
In the face of this crisis, just as in previous crises, heroes emerge. Nurses, doctors, paramedics, EMTs, police, firefighters – they are the trained first responders that are fighting feverishly to save lives every minute of every day. Hospital cleaning personnel are risking their own health to keep facilities sterile. They are all overworked and under protected, and that is quickly becoming a national embarrassment. They deserve our gratitude, admiration and unwavering support.
The list of heroes goes beyond those that work in hospitals and drive vehicles with a siren. Without the staff in grocery stores and the entire food supply chain, we will not be able to feed our families. Teachers have been forced to quickly pivot to teach our children remotely. Restaurants where we used to enjoy a family meal now utilize courageous delivery drivers to bring food to our door. They all help the healthy among us move forward.
The heroes in this pandemic include IAM members, as it always does. Even with the reduced schedules, airlines, passenger rail and transit systems are still critical pieces of our nation’s infrastructure that continue to operate. IAM members greet passengers, maintain aircraft and locomotives, move cargo and ensure passengers are safe as they travel. As we are essential workers, stay at home orders don’t always apply to us. We must continue doing our jobs, but we must do it safely.
This pandemic has made us all first responders. Each one of us must do our part to help our communities get through this. Even if that means staying home and doing nothing at all.
We are stronger together, even when apart. Stay safe. Stay healthy.
Sito Pantoja, General Vice President