'You label us essential, treat us like essential': Auto industry left out of vaccine priority

A look inside the COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the WFCU Centre in Windsor, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. (Bob Bellacicco / CTV Windsor)

With more Windsor-Essex residents eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine the union representing autoworkers is calling for their members to be included.

Unifor Local 444 president Dave Cassidy says the auto industry has been left out of vaccine priority, despite being labelled essential workers.

“The front-line workers were first, and 100 per cent should have been first and somewhere after that, our GFL members, auto parts and manufacturing members should also be somewhere on the essential vaccination list — for those who want it,” Cassidy said in a Facebook post on Tuesday.

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit announced Monday the age band to receive the COVID-19 vaccine had been dropped to include those 50 years and older, as well as residents 18 plus in certain hot spot areas.

In addition, workers in the First Group of frontline essential workers who cannot work from home are able to book their vaccine.

The First Group includes:

  • Education staff and teachers
  • Workers responding to critical events (police, fire, etc.)
  • Enforcement, inspection and compliance roles
  • Individuals working in childcare
  • Foster care agency worker
  • Food manufacturing and distribution
  • Agriculture and farm workers
  • Funeral, crematorium and cemetery workers

Cassidy says he has written letters to Dr. Wajid Ahmed, Windsor-Essex medical officer of health, saying that auto parts and manufacturing workers should be included on the list of essential workers.

He says the union is also working with the company to try and find a “feasible way” within the regulations to host a pop-up vaccination site for members who choose to have the vaccine.

“You label us essential, treat us like essential,” Cassidy says.