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At this time, under the Illinois Stay at Home Order issued on March 20th (read the full Order in English here or in Spanish here) construction projects and construction tradespeople have been specifically classified as “essential” service providers. The goal of this Order is not to cease ongoing construction projects in Illinois. Therefore, most ongoing construction projects should remain active. Supervisors should emphasize social distancing on all job sites and implement and enforce CDC guidelines to keep workers safe.
It is up to your employer to determine whether or not they continue operations at this time. If you are being asked to continue working, your employer should make every reasonable effort to maintain safe, clean, and healthy work sites (see below for more detail). If you believe this is not the case, please reach out to PDC 30 (at 630-377-2120, or use the Directory accessible at www.pdc30.com to send a message to the District Council representative assigned to your Local Union). It is possible that your employer might consider some construction work under their management to be optional, and/or your employer’s clients may shut down a place of business or worksite during the Stay at Home Order, making it impossible to continue work at that location.
There is a small chance that some employers might wish to lay off or furlough their workforce because they believe such action can help them (the employer) avoid obligations to provide “paid leave” under new Federal COVID-19 emergency legislation. Because this legislation is not particularly helpful to union construction workers, most union employers carefully considering the law will conclude it is not in their short- or long-term interest to discontinue work for this reason. PDC 30 is actively monitoring employer activity and will do what we can to protect your access to work that is permitted under the Illinois Stay at Home Order. You can help by reporting anything specific you are hearing from your employers, or supervisor, about decisions to stop work or lay off workers (at 630-377-2120, or use the Directory accessible at www.pdc30.com to send a message to the District Council representative assigned to your Local Union).
It is impossible to speculate on the status of work in the construction industries in the short- or long-term. This coronavirus crisis is unprecedented and guidance changes almost daily. PDC 30 will continue to make members aware of future developments that affect the industries that PDC 30 members are working in, including any shutdown order that may be issued.
What are employers obligated to do to protect your safety?
Employers must maintain safe, clean, and healthy worksites. That includes efforts to protect the spread of coronavirus/COVID-19 and to provide you with any personal protective equipment (also referred to as “PPE”) needed to perform the assigned work safely. If the standard for performing a specific task includes the use of a respirator, or protective mask, your employer must provide this equipment. If you are being asked to perform work without the appropriate personal protective equipment, contact PDC 30 (at 630-377-2120, or use the Directory accessible at www.pdc30.com to send a message to the District Council representative assigned to your Local Union).
Please be aware that no form of mask or respirator is required to generally keep you safe from the coronavirus/COVID-19. Only those who are having symptoms of the virus are advised to wear a facemask, and these individuals should not go to work (see PDC 30’s general guidance on coronavirus/COVID-19 for more information). Moreover, your employer may not be able to access the necessary personal protective equipment through no fault of their own. Much of the same personal protective equipment used by tradespersons in the finishing industries are in high demand among healthcare providers (hospitals, doctors offices, urgent care centers, senior living and nursing homes, etc.). Still, you should not perform work that requires personal protective equipment that you do not have.
What steps can I take at home and at work to stay safe?
The CDC guidelines call for the following general steps for everyone, everywhere:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
- Practice social distancing by limiting person-to-person contact within six (6) feet, especially in groups or in enclosed spaces and avoid gatherings of 10 or more people.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Thoroughly clean and disinfect objects and surfaces you regularly come into contact with.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- If you feel sick, stay home from work to avoid spreading any illness further. If you must go out in public, do your best to avoid close contact with other people.
- If you believe you have contracted the coronavirus, you should contact your healthcare provider BEFORE attempting to go to a hospital. Discuss symptoms and options with your primary care physician.
At the jobsite:
- Avoid physical gathering with groups of 10 or more people (separate from one another with six (6) feet in between).
- Make sure your employer makes hand sanitizer or hand washing facilities available to all employees working on-site.
- Make sure your employer is providing you with any required personal protective equipment (PPE) needed to perform the assigned work safely.
- Hygiene related to the use of bathrooms or portable toilets is also critically important. Soap and water hand washing, or the use of a 60% alcohol hand sanitizer, must be possible within or immediately adjacent to bathrooms or portable toilets.
What if you don’t feel you can go to work during the Illinois Stay at Home Order in order to protect yourself and/or your family, or because you think you may have the coronavirus or some other illness?
First, if you believe you may have become infected or are experiencing any symptoms associated with coronavirus infection, you should not go to work (consult CDC guidelines or review PDC 30’s general guidance on the virus). Your health and the health of your coworkers should be your first priority. The Illinois Stay at Home Order is temporary, and coronavirus infection poses a very serious health threat. Second, if you are confined to your home because (a) a licensed physician has diagnosed you with having COVID-19; or, (b) because you must stay home to care for your spouse, parent, or child, whom a medical professional has diagnosed as having COVID-19; or, (c) because your child’s school has temporarily closed, and you feel you have to stay home to care for your child, you are eligible to apply for Illinois unemployment benefits. Also, if your employer determines your industry work is elective, or non-essential, and you are therefore home and complying with the Illinois Stay at Home Order, you are eligible for Illinois unemployment benefits. See PDC 30’s guidance on Illinois unemployment benefits here.
If your employer expects you to report to work, and you feel you need to comply with the Illinois Stay at Home Order to protect yourself and/or your family, you should first consider whether you can work with your employer to resolve whatever issues have caused you to consider not reporting to work, if those issues are correctable working conditions. PDC 30 may be able to assist you in addressing your concerns with your employer (call 630-377-2120, or use the Directory accessible at www.pdc30.com to send a message to the District Council representative assigned to your Local Union). If resolution is not possible, you may be eligible for Illinois unemployment benefits. The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) determines eligibility after an application is submitted. Before applying, refer to PDC 30’s guidance on Illinois unemployment benefits for more information.
PDC 30 understands that concerns for your personal health and safety are serious and may involve difficult discussions at home with your spouse and/or family. We are available to answer any questions not addressed by this, or any other, guidance made available by PDC 30. Please feel free to include your spouse or other concerned family member(s) in your call; or spouses and concerned family members are welcome to contact us directly as well (call 630-377-2120, or use the Directory accessible at www.pdc30.com to send a message to the District Council representative assigned to your Local Union).