Lennie Donohoe, University Plumber & Frontline Hero

Meet Lennie Donohoe, a plumber at Brandeis University and member of  32BJ SEIU. Lennie is an essential worker and shares his story with us as part of the Greater Boston Labor Council's #FrontlineHeroes series. Our series profiles the work of union members and everyday heroes who are working on the frontlines during the global pandemic. Stories are updated weekly. To read other Frontline Hero stories, click here: https://gblc.us/tag/frontline-heroes.

Lennie has been a plumber at Brandeis University for fifteen years. But now as the flowers and leaves bloom on campus, Lennie is facing a very different spring than usual. While most students went home as classes went online, some students with nowhere else to go remain on campus. And in the labs, researchers are still coming to work everyday, trying to learn more about the Covid-19 virus.

And Lennie says things are still humming along, with campus dining putting out 5,000 meals a week for local hospitals, so he "understands the need for services to continue" and is proud to support the work of campus, even in this uncertain time.

"We are essential workers too. There are people out there working on campus everyday and we're supporting them," Lennie says. The campus community was shaken when a custodian became ill and passed away when the crisis began. "That showed how serious this was right away. There have been other Covid-19 positives and people are scared and afraid to go to work. But they're still doing it because people are relying on us."

Lennie worries that his campus doesn't have a mandate for staff to wear masks, though they do provide them. In general, the community watches out for one another, but it's not always possible to keep distance in corridors. Independent contractors still come to campus and don't always follow mask and social distancing best practices. Lennie has worked with his union,  32BJ SEIU to try to better enforce safety protocols on campus. Still, this is why essential workers like Lennie need Stimulus Bill Round 4 to include mandates for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) so they can stay safe and healthy. We must #ProtectAllWorkers.

Lennie is a father of three and lives in Newton with his wife and two of those kids. As with many families of essential workers, they've gotten used to the new, uneasy routine - Lennie changes out of his clothes in the basement and showers before seeing his family each evening, hoping to keep any trace of the virus away from his loved ones. He hopes that his work will help others, "I just want everybody to stay healthy."