After push by union, paratransit drivers are deemed \”first responders\” – eligible for COVID vaccine

Since the pandemic began, paratransit drivers who transport the sick, the elderly, and the disabled in small buses have been at great risk for COVID. After a plea from Teamsters Union and the San Francisco paratransit company TransDev, the City and County of San Francisco agreed that these workers should be considered “first responders” and are now eligible to get the vaccine.

On January 19, Transdev announced that the plea was heard and its 72 Teamster drivers, bus aides, and road supervisors will now be prioritized to receive COVID vaccinations.

“Many paratransit riders are from high-risk communities, such as the elderly and the disabled…who require close physical interaction with their drivers,” said Teamsters Western Region Vice President and principal officer of Teamsters Local 853 Rome Aloise in a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom when seeking a similar designation for paratransit drivers statewide.

“The vast majority of our members have been working in the field since the pandemic started; they work in warehouses and manufacturing, they drive trucks and make deliveries, they work in construction. However, the transportation bus drivers are the hardest hit, as they do all of their work with numerous passengers in the confined space of a bus,” Aloise added. “We are currently working to ensure that school bus drivers be eligible for the vaccine when this opportunity opens to teachers and other school employees.”