April 16, 2020 By Erika R. Whitehead

Union Support Increases During COVID-19 Pandemic

Hundreds of thousands of Americans have been deeply affected by the devastating COVID-19 pandemic. Medical centers across the country are flooded with hundreds of incoming patients at a time and millions of Americans are experiencing unexpected layoffs and furloughs.

Feelings of uncertainty and fear are unavoidable, as citizens question everything from the status of their health to the security of their jobs. With over 23,000 deaths in two months and an extension of multiple state-wide stay at home orders, many Americans clinging to positive moments whenever they can.

Unions in the Chicago area and across the nation are committed to providing essential and volunteer services to those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters (CRCC), the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), and the Teamster’s Joint Council 25 are among some of the unions offering substantial support.

IBEW Local 134 members Elbert Waters, Donald Finn, and Kevin Connolly were among 15 other volunteers who delivered food and supplies from Costco to homebound retirees and widows. Powering Chicago, a labor-management partnership with Chicago Local 134 covered the costs for the groceries which were delivered to more than 100 homes in the Chicago area. Members of Boston Local 103 were instrumental in working with the Massachusetts Nurses Association and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh to provide 20,000 N-95 face masks to nurses and other health care professionals, totaling a cost of about $30,000. Members from Indiana Local 873, Detroit Local 58, and Nevada Local 401 have all dedicated their time to repurposing production facilities nationwide to help provide life-saving ventilators.

Additionally, members of the CRCC worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build an additional 500 makeshift hospital rooms in Hall C at McCormick Place in Chicago. The renovations took just over two days, and it is expected that an additional 1,750 rooms in Hall A will be completed. The goal is to have the rooms completed by mid-April, before the expected peak of coronavirus cases in Chicago.

Teamsters Joint Council 25 members continue to show tremendous support during this time, delivering 150,000 N-95 masks to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA). The masks were provided by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois and by the Teamsters Joint Council 25 Disaster Relief Team. Members of the Illinois National Guard helped to unload the masks at the IMEA warehouse in Springfield, Ill.

Members of Teamsters Local 703 are continuing to deliver produce to Chicago’s International Market, as members of Teamsters Local 727 joined members of the CRCC to convert the convention center floor at McCormick Place to make room for new hospital beds.

The combined efforts of these union workers are celebrated by city officials, family, and friends. The unyielding service and commitment of these union members provides proof that working together is the best way to move forward.

On behalf of Vogelzang Law, our firm wants to express gratitude to all the organized unions who have stepped up and provided assistance during these times in need, your behind-the-scenes work does not go unnoticed. Your efforts are inspiring, and you are giving all of us hope that we will return to normalcy soon.

For more information about each of these unions, please visit their websites at ibew.org, carpentersunion.org, and teamstersjc25.com.