Construction workers have been reeling from the global pandemic that has forced workers to choose between their livelihoods and their lives, their jobs and insurance, their pensions and their future.
According to an article in the Pontiac Daily Leader, the building trades are generally working in downtown Illinois. The West Central Illinois Building and Construction Trades Council believes that despite the economic uncertainty, the industry will get through this challenging time.
Illinois had deemed construction workers are "essential employees" so contractors could keep them building, but social distancing on crowded job sites can be difficult to impossible. Six foot spaces are possible in work like operating engineers in enclosed cabs on heavy equipment, but it's another story if bricklayers must help each other move extremely heavy blocks or laborers need to be together pouring concrete.
"Among painters, there is a split down the middle between those who are more concerned about health risks and those who say 'I need to work so that I have my health care coverage, so that I can continue my way of life."
Vice President of International Union of Painters & Allied Trades | Jim Williams
Clint Drury, executive director of West Central Illinois Building & Construction Trades Council, stated that no health insurance contributions are required to be paid to the funds on behalf of laid-off or furloughed members. Unions' internationals tried to get 100% COBRA coverage in the CARES Act, but that didn't happen. But he is still pushing for it to be included in the next aid package.
Unions are trying to do what they can on behalf of the workers they represent. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and contractors' NECA group agreed that no action will be taken against any employee who refuses to be present at a jobsite if they believe there is danger of contracting COVID-19.
Eric Dean, president of the 130,000 member Iron Workers union has stated that his work force was "idle or sitting at home." He added that some members getting close to retirement age may take early retirement, which dilutes unions' most skilled members.
The Illinois Capital Development Board had shut down all projects early on which affected painters, but the CDB authorized work to start again. Heavy highway work has not slowed down much, but that work takes place outside, making social distancing easier.
An article from Construction Business Owner states how construction industry has had to adapt to new safety protocols, governmental orders, stimulus packages and new operating procedures on job sites.
New information about the pandemic continues to progress and impact daily life, while owners and teams need to shift from reacting to the situation to proactively charting the course.
Now is the time to get back to your strategic plan, layer on what the pandemic means to your blueprint and adjust the business to meet the pre-defined goals.
Many construction firms are experiencing decreased projected revenue and uncertainty in cash flow. Once the stimulus programs run their course, focus on fiscal responsibility and controlling expenses is necessary. Smart and proactive decision making now will allow flexibility to capitalize on future opportunities.
Current uncertainty shouldn't stop you from maximizing jobsite efficiency and investing in your firm if there is a real opportunity to improve financial returns.
Securing future work is the lifeblood of any construction firm. Maintaining a backlog also helps you make long-term decisions. When bidding on new projects, consideration should be given to charges and additional costs required to operate in the current environment.
The construction industry will be a significant part of the nation's return to work. Take the time now to proactively plan how your firm will contribute during the recovery.
Editor's note: This is, indeed, a confusing time for the construction industry. DataBid is working tirelessly to report and distill the news that can help you and your company make the right decisions and keep you up to date on the constant changes as they are made. We hope our coverage brings some clarity amid all the confusion.
Posted by Judy Lamelza