Editor’s Note: On Thursday, November 19, LaborPress and Emblem Health bring you the second half of the 9th Annual LaborPress Heroes of Labor Awards. The virtual event beginning at 2 p.m. will feature a timely discussion with union leaders representing New York City Emergency Services workers. Honorees include Uniformed Fire Alarm Dispatchers Benevolent Association President Faye Smyth; Uniformed Firefighters Association Local 94 President Andy Ansbro; Uniformed Fire Officers Association, IAFF Local 854 President James “Jake” Lemonda; Local 2507, DC 37, AFSCME President Oren Barzilay; and Local 3621 DC37, AFSCME President Vincent Variale. Click here to register for the event.
New York, NY — Vincent Variale is president of the Uniformed EMS Officers Union Local 3621. First elected president of the local in 2009, he is currently serving his fourth term. He served as Sgt.-at-Arms for District Council 37 until his election to serve on the DC 37 Executive Board January 2019. A proactive leader, Variale has been at the forefront determined to receive fair and equitable pay for his members and other first responders. He led a long-term campaign pushing for promotional exams for EMS Officers all the way up to the rank of Division Chief, culminating in the passage of the Civil Service Exam Bill into law this past January. Variale is steadfast in fighting for all members affected by the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks. That included a victory in getting unlimited sick leave for EMS and other union members who responded to the attacks and worked in Ground Zero in the aftermath.
The union has 550 members. So far, eight in total have died from either COVID-19 or COVID-19-related stress. As far as other impacts go, Variale says that the Mayor threatened lay-offs, but that a deal has been made to suspend lay-offs until July of next year, or “maybe June 2022.”
But the threat had been made, and Variale says, “Our union thinks, it’s appalling, many members are working with the risks of COVID-19. You can imagine what that does to the morale of people doing their jobs. Do you lay-off fire fighters when they need to extinguish a fire?”