IUPAT Statement on Immediate Congressional Action for Workers Impacted by COVID-19

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, March 18th, 2020
Contact: John Doherty 617-592-2230, jdoherty@iupat.org

IUPAT General President Ken Rigmaiden releases Statement and Platform calling for Immediate Congressional Action to Support Workers Impacted by COVID-19

HANOVER, MD – One of the largest and most politically active building trade unions in North America has issued a clarion call for U.S. Congressional action to support workers who have been impacted by COVID-19.

The International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) represents construction workers in fifty U.S. states and in every Canadian province. Today, the union has issued a four stage response platform, titled as the “IUPAT BOLD ACTION PLATFORM FOR WORKING FAMILIES” which the union says is essential to protecting the economy and working families, and which they hope to see reflected in any upcoming stimulus package.

In conjunction with the release of the response platform, IUPAT General President Ken Rigmaiden issued the following statement, calling on Congress to act.

“COVID-19’s impact is financially devastating for millions of working families in our industry and beyond who are now grappling with tremendous uncertainty about what their paychecks, health care, and future will hold. In just one week, we have already seen the economic impact to our industry through widespread and sudden layoffs in many areas of the country.

The last time our nation faced a similar crisis, millions of workers were left with nothing. In the meantime, CEOs and Wall Street got billions of taxpayer dollars to cover their losses and pay their bonus checks. We must not let this historic pattern of workers being left behind repeat itself. All workers must be afforded basic human rights by their government in the face of this crisis — as opposed to just another bailout for the corporate elite.”

Rigmaiden’s statement continues:

“Right now, large corporations are lining up with their hands out for federal aid, while workers are losing their jobs, their health insurance, and their economic security. Our membership works in every sector of the US economy from hospitality, retail, real estate, infrastructure, to the public sector. We will fight to ensure our members, and workers across this country, are not left behind by Congress. 

The IUPAT will be among the legions who will be calling for workers’ basic human rights to be put first. Together, if Congress takes bold action now to support working families, we can get through this crisis and ensure our health, financial and economic well being.” 

-Ken Rigmaiden, General President, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades

============

IUPAT BOLD ACTION PLATFORM FOR WORKING FAMILIES

First and foremost, there must be no bailouts for big corporations without a bailout for workers. Second, any corporate assistance issued should be engineered to reach the paychecks of workers, not just executives. Corporate assistance should be limited in scope and should include provisions that protect the rights and economic interests of low- and middle- income workers.

Furthermore, working families need Congress to take these four Bold Actions now: 

  1. Immediate cash infusion and extended medical leave 
  2. Provide healthcare protections for both the insured and uninsured 
  3. Bolster/secure retirement plans 
  4. Invest in American infrastructure

In detail:

  • Immediate Cash Infusion and Extended Medical Leave

Our membership works in every sector of the US economy. As workplaces are closing across the country due to COVID-19, working families are already suffering. The number one priority in this crisis is making sure people who are sick or need to be quarantined have whatever it takes to care for themselves. That means paid sick leave, and the IUPAT stands with all working people who need paid sick leave guarantees from the US government. However, the majority of our membership and workers in the construction industry are hourly wage earners.

Bills we have seen so far, such as H.R. 6074 The Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Act, will have very little benefit for construction workers in this dire situation. Unlike some industries, construction and finishing trades workers don’t get paid leave—if we don’t work, we don’t get paid. Congress must act accordingly and leave no construction workers behind.

While our members are increasingly laid off, whether temporarily or sustained, our workforce must have access to cash in order to pay bills, cover basic human needs and to provide for their families.  

Any bill must also aid contractors in extending medical leave to employees so that they can weather this storm. Workers covered by collective bargaining agreements need to be included in any family, medical and paid sick leave proposals. There cannot be limits on the number of employees and days worked to include all workers in these critical measures.

  • Shore up health coverage for workers on multiemployer health plans and provide healthcare protections for both the insured and uninsured

With layoffs, jobsite shutdowns, long term unemployment and prolonged economic uncertainty on the horizon, we are calling on our representatives to provide relief to multiemployer health and welfare plans so that our members and their families can continue to receive health care with no break in coverage.

Now is not the time for millions of Americans to avoid medical care for fear of bankruptcy. Ensuring access to health care is essential to our nation’s ability to recover from this economic and public health emergency.  

We must curb the spread of disease and ensure every American has Health Care.

  • Secure Retirement Programs

Our members have worked hard in our industries for decades, providing for our families and communities, the promise of retirement with dignity. With the volatility in the stock market and a projected loss in hours and contributions to our member’s retirement plans, we call on congress to act once and for all to help provide relief to our retirement plans.

This requires taking sweeping action to address financial woes in the economy as a whole and on the stock market.  But we have learned a crucial lesson from the last economic crisis: trillion dollar bailouts for Wall Street, billionaires and corporations left working people in the cold and provided little relief to our union, our members and their private retirement system. This time around, working people must come first.

We are calling on elected leaders to invest directly in Multiemployer Pension plans like the IUPAT’s plan to ensure security for all worker’s futures.

  • Invest in American Infrastructure

The government must provide a macroeconomic stimulus to uphold the economy as a whole. Any stimulus package should include a plan to quickly put America’s construction workers back to work once this pandemic is under control.

  • In the short term, we need to be looking at emergency appropriations to support our weakened public health infrastructure, especially hospitals. 
  • In the medium and long term, recovery efforts should focus on creating jobs for millions of workers and strengthening our country’s essential infrastructure like roads, bridges and energy production. 

Across the country, infrastructure is failing and costing lives and billions of dollars every year. We call on Congress to finally act in a bipartisan way to address the growing need for a comprehensive infrastructure plan to deal with this issue once and for all. 

# # # 

THE INTERNATIONAL UNION OF PAINTERS AND ALLIED TRADES (IUPAT)

Represents a growing community of over 110,000 active and retired craftspeople in the United States and Canada. The IUPAT membership extends far beyond the workplace.

Recognized as one of the most active unions in the labor movement, IUPAT members help shape their communities in many ways: through an abiding commitment to service, by fighting passionately for workers’ rights that benefit all working families, and through effective worker education and mobilization.

Visit www.IUPAT.org to learn more

3/17/2020 IUPAT DC 82 Update

Out of an abundance of caution and after considering the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and MN Department of Health’s recommendations, the FTI of the Upper Midwest’s campus is closed to all students on March 16, 2020, and remain closed until reopening onApril 13, 2020

Continuing Education: At this time, all FTI-UM continuing education classes scheduled through April 17, 2020, are postponed until we have the approval to reopen the school to in-person training.

Please continue to check the FTI-UM website at www.ftium.edufor the most up to date information.

As epidemics/pandemics can change quickly and unpredictably, it will be essential to stay updated on the latest information regarding Coronavirus. We intend not to overload you with information, but updates will be sent as deemed necessary. If you have questions specifically related to the Coronavirus, you may go directly to the Minnesota Department of Health,  US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) webpage. Also, be alert for updates from the IUPATDistrict Council 82, and your employer regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19)

IMPORTANT INFORMATION REGARDING COVID-19

Statement on COVID-19

IUPAT District Council 82 is remaining up-to-date and current on the developing COVID-19 outbreak. The virus is a respiratory illness that is easily spread from person to person. Though an infected person may not show symptoms for many days, they may still carry the virus.

As representatives for almost 3,500 workers across Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana and Wisconsin, we are diligently monitoring the progress of the virus along with the International Union, state and local officials, and preparing for any potential impact to our members.

As expected, Coronavirus (COVID-19) is now appearing in Minnesota. We are continually monitoring the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and MN Department of Health’s recommendations regarding preventive measures we can all take to manage the potential outbreak of COVID-19. No vaccine is currently available. Symptoms of this illness include fever, coughing and shortness of breath. 

  • The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. 
  • The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person. 
  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet). 
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. 
  • These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. 

Prevention steps include: 

  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. It is recommended to cover a cough with your elbow or sneeze into a tissue, not into your hands. 
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not readily available. 
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe. 
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. 
  • Stay home or go home if you’re feeling sick with cold symptoms or fever. 
  • Avoid touching your face. 
  • Avoid shaking hands if possible. It may seem awkward, but it may prevent the spreading of the illness. 
  • It is suggested that paper towels be used to dry hands after washing. Evidence has shown that if hands are not completely washed clean, that air dryers can make the virus air born. 

If sick or symptomatic, stay home except to get medical care. Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home. 

Governor Tim Walz 
has issued an Executive Order 20-01 declaring a peacetime state of emergency in Minnesota and unveil legislative proposals to combat the spread of this virus.

  • Governor Walz’s top priority is the health and safety of Minnesotans.
  • That’s why he took swift action today to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • He declared a peacetime state of emergency in Minnesota that will help ensure he has the tools in his toolbox that he needs to quickly respond to whatever COVID-19 may bring to our state.
  • He unveiled legislative proposals to prepare for the COVID-19 pandemic, including immediate assistance from the Legislature in creating a COVID emergency fund, removing financial barriers for Minnesotans who need to be tested, expanding the use of paid sick time, and providing long-term care facilities with more resources.
  • These actions came in conjunction with the Minnesota Department of Health announcing new community mitigation strategies to limit the spread of the virus, including canceling events of more than 250 people.
  • Additional information on these strategies is available on MDH’s website, which is the best source of information on COVID-19.

We ask that all members actively practice proper cleanliness and health safety according to guidelines provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Click here for the IUPAT Coronavirus (COVID-19) Fact SheetPlease don’t hesitate to reach out to your healthcare provider if you feel that you or someone in your family has potentially contracted COVID-19.

If you have questions about the virus, don’t hesitate to call the Minnesota COVID-19 Hotline at 651-201-3920

Ricardo Batres Sentenced for Labor Trafficking

Ricardo Batres, 47, was sentenced 4 to 9 months in jail and 5 years on probation for labor trafficking on January 15. He admitted that he took advantage of employees’ federal immigration status to force them to work for him. 

Though not all instances of wage theft are this evil, it’s important to keep in mind what these unscrupulous contractors are capable of.

  • In one case, he bailed one of his workers out of immigration custody, but told him the man would need to pay off his debt. 
  • Lied on his workers compensation insurance papers to save money
  • When workers complained about the conditions, he threatened to report them to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). 
  • Threatened to kill his workers if they reported him

We all need to do our part and stay vigilant to make unscrupulous contractors obey the law.

To read more about the more subtle forms of wage theft, click here.

2020 Endorsements

IUPAT 82 only endorses candidates that have workers’ best interest in mind. We are sending a clear message to our communities that we will only support leaders who stand up for workers, and by extension, supports the growth of the 21st century middle class.

Three of our endorsed candidates this year in the state of Minnesota are State Senator John Hoffman, State Representative Ginny Klevorn, and State Representative Mike Sundin.

BM/ST Terry Nelson shares his thoughts on each candidate:

“As the senator for district 36, John Hoffman is a proven leader who stands up for workers. Thanks to Senator Hoffman’s leadership, DC 82 and the FTIUM have launched our revolutionary PSEO program, giving a real pathway to lifelong careers to youth in Minnesota. That’s the kind of dedication he brings to the job and that’s why we’re proud to endorse Senator John Hoffman for re-election.”

“As the representative for District 44A, Ginny Klevorn is a proven leader who stands up for workers. Ginny is no stranger to a fight and has been a strong advocate for workers, walking with our members on picket lines. That’s the kind of leadership she brings to the job and that’s why we’re proud to endorse Representative Ginny Klevorn for re-election.”

As the representative for district 11A, Mike Sundin is a proven leader who stands up for workers. As chair of the Labor Committee, Mike has always had working people first and foremost in his work as a legislator and that’s why we’re proud to endorse our retired member, Representative Mike Sundin for re-election.”
 
As the election approaches, all candidates will need volunteers to help get them votes. IUPAT 82 members should consider the opportunity to activate for candidates who support them.
Keep your eyes out on social media for updates on opportunities to be activists, and sign the activist pledge today

Push for Activist Pledge Signups

The IUPAT has been fighting for working people since 1887. The IUPAT was built by workers, protected by workers, and it will be grown by workers. Together, we’ve achieved working conditions that would have made our forefathers very proud. But there is still a ways to go before all workers have what they deserve.

Now, in 2020, raising our collective voice is more crucial than ever. And our region is one of the most important regions in the country to be active in.

In our region, unscrupulous contractors take advantage of workers every day. Wage theft runs rampant, and its up to us to make sure every lawbreaking employer is held accountable. Anti-worker forces are currently influencing our Minnesota statehouse, Congress, and even the Supreme Court. 

If we don’t activate for the issues our members care about, greedy employers, contractors, & politicians will make decisions for us.

Achieving the rights we have was no miracle. We fought for these rights, and we will continue to fight until all workers have justice on the job.

An organized, active workforce is the only way to achieve our goals. Join the fight today. 

Take the IUPAT Activist Pledge right now: https://iupataction.org

The Importance of Organizing

We’re right in the middle of a building boom. Skyscrapers and other large development projects are sprouting up all over the twin cities. Good contractors are searching for well trained workers like us… and unscrupulous contractors are forcing unorganized workers to race to the bottom.

Wage theft runs rampant in our region (read more about wage theft here [link to site language]). Contractors with no moral code allow or invite ICE onto their job sites to prey upon the workers that they often force to work with little or no pay. It’s unsafe, not moral, and downright scary.

Trained workers are also being taken advantage of.  When a standard of worker exploitation is set, unscrupulous contractors follow suit and exploit workers.

This is why we organize. We all believe that all workers deserve fair pay and justice on the job. We are ALL responsible for organizing, just as union workers have done for hundreds of years.

Here’s some easy things to do to help us ensure that all workers have a voice:

  1. Speak Up.
    • If you are working with somebody who isn’t in a union, ask them if they’ve ever thought about joining a union. Tell them how we are insured the best wages, best benefits, and best training in the industry
  2. Stay Vigilant. 
    • Learn to see the signs of wage theft and safety violations. When you see a worker doing something unsafe, speak up, and report it to your union. The more union workers are on job sites, the more chances we have to save lives.
  3. Get Active.
    • When you see lawmakers working against what we’ve fought to accomplish, do something. Sign up for our Activist Pledge here.

Recruiting in 2020

This year, we’re bringing our recruiting to the next level. All workers deserve what we have: High wages, good health care, and exciting work.

Our members are reaping the benefits of the construction boom in our area. As demand increases, District Council 82 and our signatory contractors are looking for more members to keep the momentum going, and we need your help to spread the word.
If you know someone who’s worked in construction, let them know our union has opportunities in the Twin Cities, Minneapolis and St. Paul, and Fargo, North Dakota.

If you know someone who has worked with glass, tell them to head to glassworkformoney.com to see what’s in store. Share this post on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram to let your friends know we’re hiring.

If your friend has experience with drywall, direct them to drywalljobsformoney.com. Spread the word on your social media channels!
It’s time we all get a chance to earn the best wages and best benefits in town!
Contact Brady Nelson at 651-236-7615 or bnelson@iupat82.org for more information.