April 2nd, 2020
TO: District Council 57 Members
FROM: Chris Geronimos – BM/ST
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
It has come to my attention that we have members who are choosing to file for unemployment instead of returning to work. From the union’s perspective, if the project has been cleared with a proper waiver from the State of Pennsylvania, we (the union) must supply the manpower.
We have been very clear that our employers and General Contractors make every effort to make their job locations as safe and clean as possible. An extra emphasis must be taken to clean and sanitize all work sites that our members are on, and when, possible, all sites need to follow social distancing protocols. These are difficult tasks to accomplish anywhere, especially on a construction site where it’s extremely difficult! If a job site is not clean and sanitary or adhering to protocols, you need to contact your Business Agent immediately.
There is no margin for error, we can’t get this wrong – we need a strong communication link from member to union, to employer, to general contractor. The work hours from these projects also help maintain your individual member account balances in the Health and Welfare Fund. Maintaining a positive Health and Welfare Account is critical for us all should this become a prolonged crisis.
I know these are frustrating and trying times for us all, particularly those of us that work and serve in jobs deemed as “essential jobs” in our communities. We are now currently being called back to work on jobs in infrastructure fields such as water, transportation, power and most recently in hospitals. Each is critical in maintaining basic care for hundreds of thousands of Western Pennsylvanian families and their households.
Brothers and Sisters, as of today, we are far from the end of this story. The authorities are now calling for an extended “Stay at Home” order, as we are needed to perform our duties. Currently, our greatest need is for our craftworkers in hospitals. We are vital to the building of these hospital rooms for an uncertain future of need. We hope Covid-19 does not rampage through our towns, cities and communities, but we must be prepared. If it does, we’ll need more hospital rooms for our friends, our parents, our children, and our spouses.
We have the opportunity currently to display something greater than ourselves, a service to our neighborhoods through the skills that we possess. We may not be able to change the past but can do our part today to change our future, our story!
I wish you and your families good health!