Laura Clawson writes for Daily Kos Labor:
The recovery from Hurricane Sandy is going to require time, money and effort. And, like so many of the heroic rescues that happened during the storm, much of the effort is going to come from union members, and especially from the unionized public workers that the Republican Party has worked so hard to hurt over the past couple of years.
Already we’ve seen fire fighters, police, EMTs, nurses and other health care workers saving lives. They’ve gone into flooded streets to rescue people, fought fires, carried patients down flight after flight of stairs to evacuate them. New York City fire fighters belong to the Uniformed Firefighters Association. Many of the health care workers carrying patients out of NYU Langone Medical Center as it was evacuated belong to SEIU1199.
Some additional salient points from Clawson:
Make no mistake about it: The fact that these are union workers is important. Unions bargain for the tools their workers need to do the best job possible, from having enough workers on the job to having adequate equipment and training. The wage and benefits improvements union members get help keep workers on the job for longer, so that they develop the skills and experience to handle worst-case scenarios like the one we’re seeing now. Having health care keeps them healthy enough to do physically taxing jobs like carrying patients down 17 flights of stairs.