Sadly, I lost my father-in-law to the coronavirus on Saturday. He was 85 and homebound for the past few years. Unfortunately he was infected by the home healthcare aide that came into his home while sick. It is a case I am sure like many others, where a worker who was sick came to work and infected others. The rules have been clear: if you are sick, don’t go to work. Period. Home care workers make minimum wage, work for non-union agencies, and are probably in fear of losing their jobs. The employer failed to provide proper PPE and clear protocols to their employees who care for the most vulnerable, the elderly and the infirmed. Sadly, my family paid a hefty price.
As we are asked to go back to work we must be protected on the jobs. The owners, GC’s, CM’s, and our employers all have the responsibility to make sure we are protected in the workplace or else we won’t be there. You have the responsibility to make sure you are protected. We need to get back to work, our economy needs to get back up and running, but it must be in the safest manner possible.
We are working on an agreement to do just that and there will be some modifications including shifts and staggered start times in order to spread out the workforce. There will be strict protocols to ensure our safety. This will be a temporary agreement for probably 60 days. We are working to finalize it this week and jobs that were shutdown will begin to start up. Hopefully many of the thousands of members on temporary layoffs will be called back.
Collectively we will move forward. Not individually. Our strength is our union. It’s all we have to secure our future and without it, we would be at the mercy of employers which have their own priorities. Again I stress: any concerns about the protocols on the jobs which will be posted should be reported to the job steward or the Construction Desk immediately. We have a rough road ahead of us but you are not alone, we walk it together.
Finally, on April 28 we celebrate Workers Memorial Day. Please take a minute to reflect on all those we have lost the past year on the job from workplace injuries and illnesses, the members who have succumbed to coronavirus, and to thank all those working on the frontlines, including our members, like healthcare and hospital workers, first responders, grocery clerks, and all essential workers. We honor them all.