News & Opinion | June 5, 2021 5:11 pm

Doormen’s Union Offers Mixed Signals on COVID Vaccinations

Will there be resistance around a vaccine mandate?

Sidewalk in NYC
The sidewalks of New York City.
Rachel McDermott/Unsplash

As vaccinations for COVID-19 continue across the country, a number of people have continued to hold out against getting the vaccine. There are numerous reasons for this, but it also creates a particularly difficult decision for people making health policies — whether on a governmental level or for a specific workplace.

A new article by David Clemens at Curbed explores one group that’s sparked a particular conundrum when it comes to vaccines: the doormen working in buildings around New York City. The Curbed article chronicles a situation in which nearly everyone wants the doormen to be vaccinated, including the vast majority of doormen themselves. Concierge Ardist Brown Jr. told Clemens, “Guys are cheering for other guys when they go get vaccinated, and you can feel the urgency they have in wanting to get it.”

Where things get tricky is when it comes down to the doormen’s union, SEIU 32BJ. Clemens notes that the union ” represents 35,000 residential-building workers throughout the Northeast.” The union has encouraged its members to get vaccinated, but it’s also opposed to a mandate for vaccination.

From the union’s perspective, it may come down to a contractual matter. “I understand why people would feel more comfortable with a staff that is vaccinated,” union spokesperson Carolina Gonzalez told Curbed, “but that is not something that is accounted for in any way in the contract of these workers.”

Gonzalez noted that negotiations are in place regarding vaccinations. Buildings with doormen are not the only industry in New York where questions over mandates have led to questions of reopenings and a return to normalcy — and, like many other things regarding the pandemic, this remains an ongoing issue.