Marisol Vidal’s co-workers knew they could count on her.
Vidal, who worked for FJC Security, died April 28 while on duty. The cause of her death is uncertain. She is survived by sons Jason Rivera, 26, and Jonathan Rivera, 30.
Born in Puerto Rico, Vidal moved to New York as a child. In March 2007, FJC Security hired her as chief monitor for the George Washington Bridge. Vidal was elected by union members to lead a team of officers and to report employee complaints to the union.
She was also the shop steward, or union liaison for workers, and her face was chosen for the union’s brochures, making her an icon in the security work force.
Co-workers remember her for her invaluable leadership and commitment. A few years ago, she pushed for a new union contract that increased wages and health benefits for 3,000 security officers.
“She wanted to make sure that everyone understood that there were times when you may not come home, that the job was dangerous,” said Douglas Majors, 32BJ SEIU’s representative of security officers in New York and New Jersey.
During the final months of her life, Vidal spearheaded an initiative to permit New Jersey security officers in need of work licenses to train in-state instead to going New York. Some 350 officers have benefited from the new rule, which took effect in May.
Vidal also saw to it that fellow security officers at the bridge got lunch and bathroom breaks. As a result of her persistence, the division hired an extra monitor so that all the officers could take the permitted breaks.
Vidal regularly awoke at 3 a.m. to check on fellow security officers at her post who were on night shift.
“She’d just call them to see how things were going on the bridge,” Majors said. “That’s how dedicated she was.”
Vidal meticulously recorded everything on paper, creating written evidence of job conditions. Her records were helpful for subordinates who felt that they were being exploited by management. When necessary, Vidal would consult company headquarters to resolve conflicts on behalf of her fellow officers.
“She kind of became a mother of the job, looking after everybody,” Majors said.
Gary Tannis, the current the shop steward at the George Washington Bridge, said his predecessor inspired him to keep the standards high.
“She had a tremendous amount of energy and took her job to another level,” he said.
Vidal’s job was always her priority. Majors remembers a conversation he had with her just days before her death. She talked about becoming even more proactive at meetings and rallies after her shifts at the bridge.
“She would do whatever she could to help fellow officers, whether it was dropping personal plans or losing sleep,” Majors said. “She was just that type of person.”
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