FLINT — County officials took time last week to recognize local plumbers and pipefitters who have served the community throughout the Flint Water Crisis and the pandemic by offering them COVID-19 vaccinations at a local center.
Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson and Mark Young, chairman of the Genesee County Board of Commissioners, both representing the county task force for immunizations, held a press conference Friday at the University of Michigan-Flint Northbank Center. There, they recognized Local 370 plumbers and pipefitters union for all they’ve done for the community.
Swanson said the union, which has a 114-year presence in the county and represents more than 500 union members, has been on the frontlines rebuilding Flint’s water infrastructure and keeping up with work on local businesses during the pandemic.
“These are brothers and sisters who work every single day. Let me tell you why we’re highlighting and edifying them,” said Swanson. “In 2016, when this community was devastated by the water crisis the brothers and sisters behind me stepped up. And under the leadership of Harold Harrington, he said we want to go and replace pipes, sinks and faucets for people. We want to be part of the solution.”
Swanson said being there on the frontline himself, he watched plumbers and pipefitters from all over the state of Michigan and beyond, representing their locals, giving their time to build Flint back to where there was a fresh water supply.
He said when Harrington reached out to ask about vaccinations for the Local 370 membership recently, the county wanted to help and offered vaccinations to the membership, as well as members of other unions in Genesee County.
The press conference was held at the University of Michigan Northbank Center where nursing students from U of M are giving vaccinations along with the sheriff paramedics and the Genesee County Health Department.
“This is what coalition looks like,” said Swanson. “We were able to vaccinate a large number of their local. The county now totals 143,000 vaccinations in the last 100 days since we started. That’s what working together looks like in our task force.”
Harrington said he is proud of the local pipefitters and the work they’ve done during the water crisis and he thanked the sheriff, the Genesee County Board of Commissioners and the Genesee County Health Department for getting the Local 370 membership into the clinic.
He said the plumbers, pipefitters and HVAC techs are out working in the hospitals, grocery stores and banks maintaining the plumbing, heating and cooling for all the local businesses in their area.
“It’s truly an honor to be recognized and get our guys in here and get these vaccines. We really appreciate it,” said Harrington.
Swanson urged union members across Genesee County to contact the health department and get immunized against COVID-19.
“This county was built on labor and these folks behind me represent that,” he said. “So it’s been a pleasure and an honor.”