Today Minnesota Governor Tim Walz issued a stay at home executive order. This order goes into effect Friday, March 27, at 11:59 pm and goes through Friday, April 10, at 5 pm. You can read the entire executive order here. It lays out clearly what people are allowed and not allowed to do.
I can report that the Governor’s executive order has broadly exempted construction workers and that, for the most part, 49ers will stay on the job continuing to provide the critical services that our state needs.
Our members are ready to answer the call of duty and are prepared to stay on the job to continue to perform their critical work in a way that protects themselves and the public and follows CDC health guidelines. There will be many questions about what jobs are included in the exemption, and this will be confusing, chaotic, and could evolve. But for now, here is our initial read of the types of work and workers that will be exempted from this stay at home order.
Our initial read of the exemptions for construction workers is:
- Workers in skilled trades related to construction of all kinds
- Operating Engineers are specifically listed as a critical trade
- Workers engaged in roadway construction, maintenance, and utility projects
- Workers performing public works construction, including the construction of critical or strategic infrastructure
- Construction materials suppliers and workers providing services necessary to maintain construction materials sources
- Workers supporting building code enforcement
- Workers performing any construction required in response to COVID-19, including health care facilities and essential businesses and serves
- Construction required for emergency repairs and safety
- Critical Labor Functions: Includes labor union essential functions, including health and welfare funds and monitoring safety of members
- Public works/wastewater government workers
- Employers servicing equipment necessary for any of these critical tasks
Form you should carry that tells authorities you are exempt from the stay at home order
Members can print off this form on our letterhead and show this to law enforcement if you get questioned about being out.
Changes to Local 49 Offices in MN
- All Local 49 administrative staff that work in Minnesota offices will be sent home during this two-week stay at home order – we will pay them as normal for these two weeks
- Because our administrative staff are the ones responsible for collecting dues, we will suspend all monthly window dues collection for the two week period
- Working dues and dues checkoff will still come in from employers like normal, so this will not be impacted
- No one will be suspended during this two week period – we are simply freezing things in time
- This is something that we can do that will cause minimal disruption and will allow those of our staff that work in office settings to stay home to help do our part
- We will begin collecting window monthly dues again on April 13 – we will do so even if the stay at home order is extended
- Business Agents will be at all Minnesota offices to answer basic questions over the phone, and dispatch will be open for phone calls and dispatching like they are now
- Business Agents are still on the job as they are now – they won’t be stopping randomly to check jobs, but they are available to help you via phone/e-mail and will come out to your site if there are specific problems that require that
- Local 49 Offices will still remain closed to all foot traffic – calls only
- Wilson McShane offices will remain open, and all health fund operations are as normal
Central Pension Fund Update
- The CPF has had to close down their office because one of their employees was in direct contact with someone who has the coronavirus
- You can read their statement here about how that is going to impact operations, and they have an FAQ that you can read that is very helpful
- The bottom line for retirees is you will be getting your money monthly like normal, nothing changes
- But if you were planning on sending in your paperwork to retire soon check the website to see if there are any impacts to the timing of processing paperwork
Congressional action is imminent on an aid package for workers and businesses. It will likely include direct cash payments to workers, and an extension of federal unemployment.
The state of Minnesota Legislature will be meeting tomorrow to pass some coronavirus related items.
We will keep you posted on these developments as they occur.
Rules for Employers
- Our Business Agents continue to be in constant contact with employers regarding how this situation is being handled in the workplace
- We are gathering information on how the new federal law changes that are coming anytime now will impact employers and workers, and our Business Agents will have the latest information
- If any member has any concerns about their workplace regarding safety or work rules your employer is implementing call your Business Agent – they are on the job
MN Highway Heavy Negotiations Update
We are meeting for the first time to exchange proposals tomorrow, March 26. We are meeting virtually, not in person, because of the ongoing coronavirus situation and the ban on large groups. This will be a challenge, but we will adapt. As things progress, I will have more updates, but I wanted to let members know that negotiations are getting started. The agreement doesn’t expire until May 1. We will keep you posted in the members-only page throughout these negotiations.
Continue to follow this website, our Facebook page, and your e-mail for updates as this is a rapidly changing situation. I want to tell you I’m proud of all of you and our staff for how we are handling this challenge. 49ers are coming together to get through this. Members have been patient with us as we do the best we can to adapt. Local 49 Business Agents and administrative staff have done an outstanding job putting the membership first and making sure that we continue to serve you through this crisis.
There is an old saying – tough times don’t last, tough people do – that’s who we are as 49ers, and I do not doubt that we will come out of this crisis stronger than ever. Hang in there, take care of each other, do your part to help slow this virus, and keep up to date on the latest information.