Brothers and Sisters,
As you know, this week I have been calling each Local Lodge to discuss the current state of our membership, District, and Union.
Approximately two years ago, our District started preparing for a day when in-person communication was not advisable or obtainable. Today, we have the tools accessible to be able to mass communicate with our members through email and text, the ability to video and phone conference, and work away from the office. As such, the staff and I have been in constant communication and are battling to ensure increased safety standards for our members currently working, and increase paid leave and health benefits for those falling under “non-essential” workplace closures.
Our membership knows they are protected by their collective bargaining agreement and have the right to negotiate any changes in their working conditions due to COVID-19. Your union shop safety committees are frequently working to engage with the company and protect your working conditions. These committees are no longer meeting monthly, but weekly and daily.
We were fortunate that many of the employers were proactive and thoughtful in ensuring a safe workplace. We encourage any policies implemented that ensure the safety of our members, including but not limited to, staggering the entry and exit of employees between shifts, the use of cleaning crews, placement of hand sanitizers around the shop, extra paid break time to wash-up, equalizing shifts, and the use of paid sick or personal leave. This, of course, is paired with social distancing and thermometer checking at the beginning of each shift.
Due to our good working relationship with your employers, we have maintained respectful communication with regard to what is best for our members while they work at this critical time. Although more than 90% of our members are classified as “essential,” a majority of those who are not will still receive as much as two weeks of pay due to the respect of our union workforce.
I want to thank my staff and all our affiliated local lodge leaders, stewards, and members during this most difficult time. Now, more than ever, things seem to be changing by a minute-to-minute basis, but we as leaders of your union are patient and prepared to represent you in the best manner.
Stay safe and healthy.
T. Dean Wright, Jr.
President & DBR