Brothers and Sisters, March 28, 2020
I hope everyone is safe and in your home with your families for the weekend. No one among us has ever experienced a week quite like last week. Please take the time to reflect on how fortunate we are. Because of our union we all have secure health care insurance for the next 5 months at a minimum. Because of our high wages negotiated by our union we should be able to survive this crisis financially. Because of the temporary agreement negotiated by our union, our employers are working with the Local to find ways to keep as many members working as possible, avoiding mass lay-offs.
The past week did bring some very trying times to all of us. Local 5 has one confirmed case of the COVID-19 virus. For privacy reasons I won’t be posting the members name. From all accounts he is recovering without complications. I want everyone to know that as soon as this member thought he had symptoms he stayed out of work and was quarantined. His apprentice was notified immediately as was the employer and the union. The apprentice self-quarantined and has experienced no symptoms.
One of our newly organized members lost his grandfather to the COVID-19 virus. Please keep the family of Anthony Barker in your thoughts and prayers.
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in 57 layoffs in Local 5 to date. The layoffs have come in all aspects of the trade. We also have many members working reduced hours. If you are still working full time, please consider taking time off and rotating with our brothers and sisters that have been furloughed.
If you are in a high-risk category for contracting the virus, please stay home. If you have a family member that is in a high-risk category you should stay home. If you can financially handle being out of work for a short period of time, please consider staying home.
Yesterday the government passed a $2 trillion stimulus package. If you are furloughed/ laid off, you are entitled to unemployment benefits and the benefits approved in the stimulus package. There are eligibility rules attached to the benefits approved yesterday. We have contacted our accountant, Daniel A Winters & Company, they are researching what and how our members can take advantage of the stimulus package. If you are not working you should apply for unemployment immediately. We have posted some news articles about the stimulus package and the unemployment web sites for all three states we work in. The state web sites are a good place to start for information on unemployment rules and regulations in place during the COVID-19 crisis.
The virus is showing no signs of slowing down. The coming weeks will be filled with questions and uncertainty. Please make your safety and the safety of your family your number one priority. Your union officers are here for you to help through these difficult times. As I have said before, we will get through this by sticking together and helping each other and our union will be stronger than ever when this crisis is over.
Business Manager Local 5