Our Response to COVID-19 ~ Resources & News

May 22, 2020

Important Update from BAC Local 2, MI

As members of our Union, I ask you to take a few minutes to read this important update that we have prepared.  Our Union exists to provide for, protect and improve the general welfare of its members, as stated in our constitution.  That said, this update explains why Local 2 urges our members to return to work so that our industry can rebound from being shut down for 7 weeks.

RETURNING TO WORK UNDER EXECUTIVE ORDER 2020-70

As you know, Governor Whitmer recently promulgated an executive order, EO 2020-70, now replaced by EO 2020-77, which, among other things, allowed construction work in Michigan to resume, effective May 7, 2020.  We are all excited to be able to return to work and start earning a living again.  Of course, this will not be a “return to normal,” at least not “normal” as it existed before the pandemic.

SAFETY REQUIREMENTS UNDER THE “NEW NORMAL”

Under the Governor’s order, extensive precautions will be required on all construction worksites in order to ensure that those worksites are as reasonably safe as possible. Some examples of the required precautions are listed below.  For example, Employers must:

 * Develop a written COVID-19 preparedness and response plan, to be available at company headquarters or on the jobsite;

 * Appoint a dedicated COVID-19 supervisor, to be on site at all times, responsible to implement and oversee the preparedness and response plan;

 * Create dedicated entry points and a screening protocol for employees and others entering the jobsite, including a questionnaire covering symptoms and exposure, and temperature screening if possible;

 * Conduct frequent cleaning/disinfecting of the job site and high-touch surfaces such as door knobs and hand rails,

 * Provide sufficient hand washing and/or sanitizing stations to enable easy access to workers.  Soap and water should be supplied whenever possible and alcohol-based hand sanitizer stations as a backup only when soap and water is impossible.  In addition, workers should be supplied with individual bottles of hand sanitizer;

 * Maintain and enforce social distancing policies requiring workers to be at least 6 feet apart at all times whenever possible;

 * identify choke points and other high-risk areas where workers may be close together (such as hallways and elevators) and develop access controls to maintain social distancing;

 * Require that face shields and/or masks (provided by the employer) be worn when it is not possible to consistently maintain six feet of separation from other workers;

 * Require employer provided facial coverings when working indoors and when entering jobsite access points;

These are just a few of the most important examples.  More details can be found at the Michigan Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) website at the following link:  https://www.michigan.gov/documents/leo/LEO_Construction_Guidance_689631_7.pdf

MIOSHA’s recently issued COVID guidelines for construction can be found here:

https://www.michigan.gov/documents/leo/leo_miosha_c19_workplace_guidelines_construction_690394_7.pdf

MIOSHA has also established a new COVID-19 hotline. Employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health may contact MIOSHA using the new hotline at 855-SAFEC19 (855-723-3219).

The Governor’s Executive Order is available here:

https://www.michigan.gov/whitmer/0,9309,7-387-90499_90705-528460--,00.html (The portions of the Executive Order which are most applicable to construction are found in Section 11, in particular Sections 11(i) an 11(j)).

Also, keep in mind that some owners may impose their own additional requirements (such as requiring face masks or face coverings to be worn at all times) beyond those imposed by the Executive order.

BAC Local 2 and the Building Trades have been working with the State and our Union Contractors to develop these policies, and with your help we will be monitoring worksites and seek corrective action if we receive any complaints.  Local 2 is committed to helping keep your worksites safe.

THINKING OF STAYING HOME AND CONTINUING TO COLLECT UNEMPLOYMENT? THINK AGAIN.

Some people may be considering staying home and continuing to collect unemployment.  As explained below, in most cases that will not be possible. More importantly, from a financial and long-term security perspective it would not be the best decision.  Just considering wages, in most cases base wages will be far more than weekly unemployment benefits, even with the additional $600 PUA benefit -- which will run out at the end of July.  And that doesn’t include all the generous fringe benefits to which you are entitled as a BAC member, including but not limited to pension benefits, health insurance, holiday pay and annuity. 

Second, If you were off work because your place of employment was closed but you are now offered your job back because the employer is reopening, you will most likely not be eligible to continue receiving unemployment, and your employment could be terminated if you decline to return to work, assuming of course that your employer is following all the safety precautions mandated by the Governor’s Executive Order.  So in addition to the obvious financial benefits of returning to work, you could be giving up your long-term job security if you decide to stay home.

In some cases you might still be eligible for unemployment benefits under the current emergency unemployment rules.  That would be true if you cannot return to work because of the following reasons:

 * Having elevated risk from COVID-19 for being immunocompromised;
 * Displaying symptoms of COVID-19;
 * Having contact in the last 14 days with someone with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis;
 * Needing to care for someone with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis; or
 * Having a family care responsibility as a result of a government directive (i.e., childcare responsibilities arising from school closings).

As for the last reason, once the regular school year ends (soon) that will no longer be a qualifying reason for unemployment.

Again, for most people these reasons will not apply once an offer to return to work is made.  But BAC Local 2 is committed to helping our members get safely back to work and back to normal, even if it is the “new normal” for the time being.

In closing, we want you to know that we take the COVID‐19 pandemic seriously and we continue to monitor the situation.  We will provide updates to this website as needed to help our members get through this crisis.  The health and well‐being of our members and their families and continuity of service to our members is our highest priority. 

We have been on the phone with Unions around the country and have heard from those who already started back to work about how they are following this “new normal” in light of the COVID-19 virus.  Contractors have successfully done what is required and we have reports that they are almost back to their pre-COVID-19 levels of productivity.

That said, we believe that our members can successfully and safely resume working by following all the MIOSHA, State of MI Construction Guidance, and the safety precautions mandated by the Governor’s Executive Order 2020-77.

In Solidarity,

Chuck Kukawka
President,
Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, Local 2 MI

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

March 27, 2020

Holiday Pay Fund COVID-19 Distribution Request Available

Local 2 and the Trustees of the Holiday Funds are pleased to announce that the participants of the Brick, Cement and TMT Holiday Pay Funds can request a withdrawal of the Holiday Pay funds that you have in your accounts for work hours reported from October, 2019 through the end of January, 2020. 

If the Chapter where you work makes contributions to one these Holiday Pay funds, you will be mailed a form so that you can request a one time withdrawal.  Look for the mailing or can download the appropriate form and return it to the fund office listed on the form today.  Click the links below to read the letters for exact details of these distrubtions that start next week.

Bricklayers Holiday Fund - Special Vacation Distribution Mailing - March 2020

Tile, Terrazzo & Marble Fund - Special Vacation Distribution Mailing - March 2020

Cement Masons Holiday Fund - Special Vacation Distribution Mailing - March 2020

If you have any quesitons call BAC Local 2 or yuor Field Representative.

Trustees of the Brick, Cement and TMT Holiday Pay Funds

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Effective yesterday, March 24, based on Governor Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-21, BAC Local 2 MI has transitioned our staff to a rotating skeleton crew at both our Warren and Lansing offices.  The health and well‐being of our employees and continuity of service to our members and their families is our highest priority.  In response to the evolving COVID‐19 pandemic, both Local 2 Training Centers are closed to our members until the Stay Home Order is lifted.  We have also decided to cancel all Chapter Union Meetings for the Month of April as well.

You should know that Critical BAC Operations Will Continue
The IUBAC and Local 2, MI will keep our critical operations going during this crisis.  We are here to answer questions and assist our members in any way.  We take the COVID‐19 outbreak seriously and recognize the importance of minimizing the spread of the virus. So, while we continue to provide services to our members, we will not be able to let anyone into our buildings during the 3 week period based on the Governor’s Executive Order.

Our staff who are not in our offices will be working remotely and we will remain responsive and available via cell phones, text messages and email, and you should not hesitate to reach out to contact anyone on our staff as usual.   

While providing services to our members remains our primary consideration, there may be some temporary delays, but we do not anticipate significant disruption to critical services. 

Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s office has provided 2 documents for this Executive Order which are attached below on this page:

  • Executive Order 2020-21, Stay Home, Stay Safe
  • Bureau of Construction Codes Statement Regarding Construction Under EO 2020-21

The following Guidance from the CPWR, Center for Construction Research and Training, are attached below on this page:

  • CPWR_Guidance_on_COVID
  • CPWR_Guidance_on_COVID_SPANISH

CPWR - The Center For Construction Research and Training - has developed guidance on COVID-19 in that can be downloaded by clicking this bold text for the English and Spanish versions plus they are attached below as well.  They are also maintaining the best collection of resources for construction tradespeople right here. It's updated on a daily basis, and it's targeted at union craftworkers. 

For more information on the coronavirus, you can visit the CDC, Public Health Agency of CanadaWorld Health Organization, and Johns Hopkins UniversityMichigan Statistics, and World Statistics.

We will continue monitoring the situation and will update you as necessary to ensure we all get through these events with as little disruption of service to BAC members as prudently possible.

We are going through unsettling times as we head into a three-week shutdown. The whole country is being asked to make sacrifices that we have never made in the past.  This situation is changing quickly and we urge you to remember the health of your families and loved ones.  Please focus on being positive for the sake of our children because they watch how we respond to this crisis.  

Our IUBAC Membership Assistance Program is available to take your calls and help talk through situations that you may be facing at this time.  This free and confidential service connects you to our BAC Licensed Professional Counselors by calling (888)880-8222

Local 2's D&V and MI Health Fund's will be mailing a notice to participants to let them know that there is no charge for COVID-19 testing for our participants. 

We are also in the process of offering an early Vacation Pay distribution for our members who request it.  This was approved today for our Brick, Cement and TMT Vacation Funds and notice will be mailed & posted on this website when available. 

In closing, Local 2’s staff is committed to providing you with the support, services and representation that BAC members deserve.  

As Tim Driscoll, the President of the IUBAC, has told us: “I have no doubt that, as with past crises, we will match this moment with the dedication and determination that has characterized BAC’s Membership and Leadership for over 150 years.” 

In Solidarity,

Chuck Kukawka
President,
Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, Local 2 MI

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Here is an important update from the MI Unemployment Office

UIA Offers Update on Unemployment System, Provides Tips
                       to Get Help as Soon as Possible 

LANSING, MICH. The State of Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) today provided updated information for workers affected by COVID-19. Workers are encouraged to apply online at Michigan.gov/UIA or over the phone at 866-500-0017, but due to the tremendous call volume, certain callers may receive a busy signal.  

“The UIA is working hard and fast to handle the influx of applications for unemployment benefits as we deal with the COVID-19 crisis. While an unprecedented number of calls and clicks has challenged the system, particularly during peak hours, we want to assure Michiganders that the system is providing emergency financial relief,” said UIA Director Steve Gray. "Our website may be operating a little slower, and phone queues are full resulting in busy signals for some callers, so the UIA is urging patience and recommending that workers go first to the online system at Michigan.gov/UIA.” 

In addition, applying online in off-peak hours will expedite the process. The 24-hour website operates faster when there are fewer people on the site at any given time. The UIA also urges Michiganders using the website to expect longer load times. It may take several minutes for a page to load at this time. Users are asked to be patient and not click more than once to reload a page. Filing online remains the fastest way for Michiganders to apply for unemployment benefits. 

Off-peak hours: 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.  

Applicants with questions can also access information on the website Michigan.gov/UIA, including frequently asked questions about the process and current challenges due to COVID-19.  Checking the website for answers may help alleviate pressure on the phone line. A downloadable handout on the filing process can be found here.

“Though it is best to file your claim as efficiently as possible, and we understand residents are eager to receive their checks quickly, the UIA wants to remind Michiganders that the eligibility window to apply has been increased from 14 to 28 days from the date of their work stoppage,” added Gray. “The UIA is shifting as many resources as possible to handle the increase in applications and is exploring further solutions to help Michiganders get the assistance they need as soon as possible. We appreciate your patience during this unprecedented time.”

Gov. Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-10 on March 16, 2020 to expand unemployment benefits to eligible workers: 

  • Sick Workers: Workers who are sick, quarantined, or immunocompromised and who do not have access to paid family and medical leave or are laid off. 
  • Workers Caring for Loved Ones: Workers who have an unanticipated family care responsibility, including those who have childcare responsibilities due to school closures, or those who are forced to care for loved ones who become ill and who do not have access to paid family and medical leave.

The governor’s order also extends access to benefits for unemployed workers:

  • Increased Weeks: Benefits will be increased from 20 to up to 26 weeks. 
  • Longer Application Time: The application eligibility period will be increased from 14 to 28 days. 
  • Fewer Requirements: The in-person registration and work search requirements will be suspended.

Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.  

JIC News Release 068_UIA Offers Update on Unemployment System, Provides Tips to Get Help as Soon as Possible.pdf

Please check regularly for further updates, and stay safe.