To the Members of NOITU:
The word Awakened is defined as “an act or moment of becoming suddenly aware of something.” The year 2020 was the embodiment of a societal awakening on various fronts. 2020 opened our eyes to the fact that we truly lived in a global community when the COVID pandemic touched citizens of every nation with no regard for the boundaries that we always perceived to separate us and make us immune from pandemics such as the one we are currently faced with. The pandemic presented countless challenges to all members of our society in the past year while redefining so many hard-working people as Essential Workers, finally putting the proper spotlight on how critically valuable they truly are to the world in which we live. In addition, many in our country were awakened to the fact that social injustice and racial bias unfortunately still pervades American society to this very day. Moreover, a presidential election unlike any other before gave us a palpable view of the perils of the potential divisiveness of extreme partisanship. The confluence of the numerous eye opening events of the past year has been a catalyst for self-reflection that will set the platform for recovery and building back better in 2021 and beyond.
American society and the global community at large has been awakened to our collective dependence on the diligent commitment of all those who are now regarded as Essential Workers. There has always been a greater need for recognition of the importance of contributions by workers in various industries such as healthcare, manufacturing, auto maintenance, education, food service, hospitality and numerous other industries that form the core of NOITU’s membership. Essential workers were tasked to rapidly adapt to the perils of navigating their work responsibilities during a pandemic, often while watching the world around them go on hold. In countless respects, 2020 was a year of unprecedented change – our entire way of life changed, for many it was put on pause and for so many NOITU members they learned what it meant to be regarded as essential. Everyone has had to adapt to new norms and rules. I am proud to state that our membership has been able to navigate the challenges associated with the pandemic in better ways than could have ever been anticipated. We here at NOITU have adapted to the changes that the pandemic COVID-19 has created. Our staff now has adopted to working remotely and is able to perform their duties regardless of whether they work from home or in the office. The Louis Lasky Memorial Medical and Dental Center is once again treating members, adhering to all of the new safety guidelines this pandemic has created.
This pandemic has changed the way we view the world; unfortunately, some had to view it through the spectrum of the loved ones whom they have lost. We mourn the loss of our members who were lost to the impact of this virus and we express our condolences to their family members they have left behind.
Our country was awakened to the fact that social injustice and racial bias still pervades American society to this very day and creates contrasting versions of American life that can have stark differences for people of color. The jarring images and dehumanization that was witnessed in the video of George Floyd’s murder brought attention to the disparities in justice that are a reality for many Americans. This was compounded by the particulars of the death of Breonna Taylor, the shooting of Jacob Blake, the video showing the death of Ahmaud Arbery, the recent attacks on Asian-Americans and countless other incidents that have no place in American society. As I write this address, the recent accidental killing of Daunte Wright has once again led citizens and government officials to question the disparities in this country’s policing policies. It is unfortunate that it took witnessing these events to garner a general recognition of the disparate treatment so many Americans have known as a way of life for centuries in this country. All of these tragic events served as a catalyst for people of countless different backgrounds to bond together to stand up against racism and discrimination all over the world. While there is no question that these tragedies should have never occurred, it is right to be hopeful that we may have reached a turning point where events can be personally impactful without having someone being personally involved.
The various events that we have witnessed in the past year have served to activate many to participate in the political process who never previously prioritized their vote. The activation of the electorate shall hopefully lend itself to more community investment in the democratic process and recognition of the fact that we are all stakeholders in determining how our government works on our behalf.
While we were collectively awakened in 2020, 2021 presents an opportunity to manifest our dreams of a better vision of how to move forward in unison with the recognition and appreciation of the steady contributions of Essential Workers to every facet of our lives. Furthermore, while recent events have brought spotlight to the differing perspectives that can evoke the worst instincts of some, we are reminded that there is far more that binds us together and the commonality of our collective humanity provides a platform of opportunity to rise above petty differences to create something better for us all in 2021 and beyond.
One thing that remains a constant, even during the difficulties of the pandemic, has been NOITU’s Scholarship award. NOITU remains committed in doing its part in helping the graduating seniors of our membership attend college in the fall. Last year, our annual scholarship awards ceremony was held virtually; we are hoping that we may be able to have our 2021 awards in person this year, providing it is safe for all to do so. If you are an active member who has a child graduating this year, please see the scholarship application that has been made part of this edition of the Reporter; the application is also available at www.noitu.org.
Finally, please continue to follow the recommendations of the CDC and our State and Local governments to ensure the health and safety of you, your family, and your fellow co-workers.
Wishing you all a Safe and Healthy Summer!
Gerard A. Jones