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Union leaders want COVID vaccine priority to keep workers and public safe

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Union leaders representing thousands of Long Island electrical workers are imploring state government to elevate their status on the COVID-19 vaccine list to provide the critical workers with a level of protection in their customer-fronting jobs.

At a meeting Tuesday, officials for three separate locals of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers said their current vaccine status would leave them unprotected for months as they go about their work, exposing them to the virus and potentially spreading it to customers.

The workers are currently classified as 1C, and are requesting their status be upped to 1B.

Workers with 1C status are not expected to be vaccinated until May or June, the union said, while 1B status workers would be eligible to be vaccinated now, even if vaccinations are currently hard to come by.

The workers are not just the hundreds of high-voltage electric linemen who work for PSEG Long Island; they include members who work for HomeServe, known locally as PSEG WorryFree, who go into homes to service electrical and gas heating systems; cable TV repair workers and office workers who answer customer calls.

"If we continue to be pushed out we could be spreading disease to the public, and then our people are at peril also," said Patrick Guidice, business manager for Local 1049 of the IBEW, in Holtsville.

The union said it’s contacted Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s office about its concerns.

Click here to read more in Newsday.