It has been 3 weeks since Phase 1 allowed for the opening of non-essential construction in NYC. While many members who were temporarily laid off have gone back to work, the unemployment remains high. The Employment Department reported that as of Friday 6/26 there were 1,563 AJ’s still listed as temporarily unemployed and there were 1,019 on regular layoff. Additionally, close to 1,000 members remain unemployed in all other construction classifications including Westchester. The top 100 'A'-rated journeypersons had an average of 234 slot days unemployed and the Employment Department was calling those with 130 for regular calls.
The second half of the required hiring under the Furlough Plan was delayed for two months due to the pandemic and will commence on July 6th. Employers are required to hire furlough replacements for 26 weeks based on 10% of their furlough-eligible workforce. That should start to move the list. This is the first time that some employers may have to lay off regulars to accommodate the replacements. Normally they would furlough their regular workforce, however, since the temporary layoffs counted toward the furlough requirement, the only time off the regulars would be able to take are the two weeks vacation we agreed to between now and the end of the furlough plan year in January.
Our work sharing plan has never been perfect but it has allowed our members to share the limited work opportunity in leaner times and to maintain their medical coverage. This will be a test, as we all need to play by the rules, and if a rotation of the workforce is the result, then the work sharing plan is working. I want to remind you there are work opportunities in other Locals across the IBEW including Local 25. Call the construction desk if you need or want to travel for work.
We remain in uncharted waters as the pandemic has changed how we work. Be vigilant, do not compromise your health by accepting anything less than full compliance with the state and city-mandated protocols. The pandemic has severely impacted the economy and the future work opportunity that we were depending on.
What is also questionable is the federal government's commitment to provide relief to the unemployed with much of it held up by petty partisan politics and a President that doesn’t seem to have a clue. Pretty sad.