Frontline healthcare workers left unvaccinated—but not bosses

Tuillo DuPonti, Unifor local 2458 president

HOW COME MANAGERS COME FIRST? That’s the question Tullio DuPonti, president of Unifor 2458 had for administrators at the Erie Shores Healthcare hospital in Leamington, Ontario on January 6.

Administrators at the hospital provided Covid-19 vaccination to their “leadership team” ahead of many of their frontline healthcare workers who are in Local 2458. One member of that so-called leadership team, public relations director Arms Bumanlag, was so pleased to be among the first to get his second vaccination shot he posted about it on Twitter.

Local 2458 members couldn’t believe it. They couldn’t believe it had happened. And they couldn’t believe that somebody in public relations had actually openly bragged about it. “It just goes to show you how little they think of us and how dumb they can be,” said one worker.

95% still not vaccinated

DiPonti said his members call the local daily because they’re afraid to go into the facilities in outbreak and are asking how they can get the vaccine. He said 95 per cent of his workers, including personal support workers, registered nurses, housekeepers, dietary workers, and others are still not vaccinated.

“Then they see this on Twitter. The PR person is getting it, yet the hands-on people that are actually in those homes trying to save these lives haven’t gotten the vaccine, that’s what infuriates our members and myself,” he said.

“Today they posted that 17 people died in the city of Windsor, 14 in Long-Term Care facilities and we’re battling to get members and the residents in long term care facilities, that vaccine, yet a PR person from the hospital is there in line in front of all these workers,” he said

This week the Windsor Essex County Health Unit said it would vaccinate those living and working in long-term care homes that were in outbreak. It plans to have all of the long-term care facilities not in outbreak completed before January 20.

System failure

DiPonti said he is more upset with the system, and how the vaccine rollout has been going, than he is with any one individual. He said frontline workers, particularly those working in longterm care, should be the first to get the inoculations, ahead of anyone else.

“They’re taking their lives in their own hands by going in there and doing the job they love to do,” DiPoint said.

Adding that his heart breaks for the residents, family members, and union members that are still waiting to be vaccinated.

“We hear people dying,” DiPonti said. “Our members are getting affected more and more every day, making them wait to be vaccinated is not right, it’s just not.”

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