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June 25, 2020
July 2020 Newsletter

REPORT TO THE MEMBERS

By Richard E. Dalton, Business Manager

The COVID-19 pandemic has created havoc in the country and throughout the State of Ohio. Many industries were shut down and people laid off. Our industry has weathered the storm as an essential business during the entire episode. I am pleased to report to you that your representatives stayed the course the entire time, with all offices open and all staff members work-ing regular hours. While many businesses and local unions worked their employees from home, your staff came to work every day. Business Representatives have been in the field checking jobs using social distancing guidelines, office staff in the offices performing their regular duties, along with cleaning details, to ensure a safe work environment.

We are returning to the new normal way of doing business, with social distancing, small group congregations, frequent hand washing, and in many cases, masks. In order to continue performing essential functions when group meetings are not an option, I have retrofitted the district conference rooms with video conferencing equipment. Video conferencing is not a replacement for face-to-face meetings. However, when it is not practical or efficient to travel hours for a twenty-minute meeting, video conferencing has its place in society.

Retiree lunches are on hold until further notice, and the state-wide retiree picnic in August has been canceled this year. We will look at possible retiree holiday lunches in the districts this fall. Informational meetings will resume this month for Ashtabula, Lima, and Old Washington.

The Pension and Health and Welfare Trustees are monitor-ing the plan investments very closely right now. The two-month shutdown of the world economy has caused investment return disruption for all plans. Fortunately, our plans were in great shape going into the COVID-19 pandemic. The next couple of months will determine just how devastating the epidemic has been on the benefit plans.

Jobs continue to operate, and ODOT is still letting projects for the contractors to bid. Projects have been slow the past couple of months, not necessarily from the COVID-19 pandemic, but due to the daily torrential rains. Building work is somewhat slow across the state. We have heard that the iron ore briquette plant in Ashtabula is on hold for the time being with all the COVID-19 restrictions. Most projects continue at pace, or near pace, with the exception of the very large projects with hundreds of people. These projects have slowed or, in some cases, shut down temporarily due to social distancing issues.

The apprenticeship program was in the midst of apprentice selection when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country. As a result, the program did not start an apprenticeship class until June. New apprentices will just now be hitting the projects as available. Please take a little time and work with the new apprentices, and make them feel welcome into the union and a new career path.

The Buckeye Express pipeline project started in June, running through District 3and into West Virginia. We currently have over one hundred operators on the project, which should last for the next several months. The Nexus project has a couple of contractors returning to perform restoration work, along with the repair of slips, and is calling for operators.

Please work safe and work smart, protect yourself while out in public. We will get through this together.

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