Washington D.C. – The National Treasury Employees Union welcomes the new policy requiring foreign nationals flying to the U.S. to be vaccinated, a step toward making the workplace safer for the federal employees who process them at the airports.
NTEU, which represents about 29,000 Customs and Border Protection employees at the ports, also has urged the administration to extend the vaccination mandate to all individuals who arrive at any of the nation’s 328 airports, sea ports and land ports of entry.
“CBP employees have been on the job throughout the pandemic, processing legitimate trade and travel, interdicting illegal drugs and products, and inspecting cargo for invasive pests or disease,” said NTEU National President Tony Reardon. “The least we can do is to make sure everyone they come into contact with is inoculated against COVID-19 and has recently tested negative.”
Since the start of the pandemic, the agency reports that more than 11,000 CBP employees have contracted COVID-19 and 43 employees have died from the virus, figures that include NTEU-represented employees at the ports as well as other divisions with CBP.
“On any given day, thousands of CBP employees are face-to-face with deplaning passengers, cargo ship crew, migrants, asylum-seekers and routine border crossers. Extending the vaccine mandate beyond those who work at the ports to those who also use the ports would make the federal workplace – and the entire country -- safer,” Reardon said.
The Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General reported that in March and April, 157 employees along the southwest border tested positive for COVID-19, and that “without stronger measures in place, DHS is putting its workforce, support staff, communities and migrants at greater risk.”
NTEU represents about 150,000 employees in 34 federal agencies and departments.