Another city employee has died from the coronavirus — this time a foreman and machinist at the city department once known as Fleet and Facilities Management.
David Veloz, 64, died Tuesday. He roamed Chicago maintaining and repairing city-owned buildings, according to Ryan Kelly, business representative at Machinist Union Local 126.
“They work on buildings from your run-of-the-mill police station, fire stations, office buildings right up into the halls of government at City Hall. ... They’re traveling all over the city. They scour and cover every inch of government,” Kelly said.
Kelly described Veloz as a “beloved father, a family man and a great union man” — a “larger than life” Navy veteran who enjoyed spending time at his family farm in Tennessee.
“He was very, very proud of his service to the city of Chicago. He wore it on his sleeve. He loved this union, and he loved this city,” Kelly said.
“I was talking to him right up through when he was put into the hospital. Always thinking about his fellow workers. He was just that kind of guy. It’s a terrible loss for us as an organization and as an individual. He was a friend. He was a mentor. When I joined the fold, he was one of the first faces you’d meet because he was at every union meeting. He was a Chicago Federation of Labor delegate. He was very active in the workers’ rights movement and workers’ protections.”
Although City Hall is “committed to getting PPE of all sorts as they can” to its employees, Kelly said there are “shortages in different departments,” including Fleet and Facilities, known around City Hall as “2FM.”
“All our unions are actively trying to get as much protection as possible. But it’s a tough go right now. We’re gonna hammer it home as far as PPE and worker safety,” Kelly said.
“As far as what the departments can provide — they’ve promised disinfectant sprays. They’ve promised availability of hand sanitizers. [But] we are asking for more availability and more uniformity across — not just department to department, but facility to facility.”
City Hall refused to comment on the death.
Three pictures of Veloz are posted on the union’s Facebook page, along with Kelly’s letter to the membership.
“Quite honestly, he personified what it is to be a fighting Machinist. But Dave was more than that. He was a father and a grandfather who fought hard and understood the plight of working people because he knew his working conditions directly affected his ability to provide for his family,” Kelly wrote.
“Never be afraid to ask a question about your working conditions because Dave would. He was that guy.”
Veloz is the fourth city employee known to have died from the coronavirus.
Chicago Police officer Marco DiFranco, 50, and Chicago Firefighter Mario Araujo also died after contracting COVID-19. Another city employee was not identified. A Chicago Park District employee also has died from the virus.