The North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters joined other members of the Massachusetts Building Trades Council in voting yesterday to call on Governor Charles Baker to suspend all non-emergency construction in the state.
Though the union had fought to keep construction sites open and safe during the early stages of the current pandemic, it became increasingly clear that safe site protocols either could not or were not being implemented consistently.
An increasing number of union members have stopped working due either to the direct impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on themselves or their family or because they were concerned with spreading the virus through construction site contamination. Some general contractors and subcontractors had also suspended operations in the last few weeks.
Staff from NASRCC have witnessed a dangerous lack of response from "leaders" in the nonunion sector of the industry. On sites in Lynn, Chelsea, Bridgewater, Brookline and Revere a host of troubling practices--including vanloads of workers unloading at sites and clusters of people working and taking breaks shoulder-to-shoulder--have been witnessed and recorded. Contractors responsible for the sites include Dellbrook, Callahan, P&B Partitions and Ray-Con.
Building Trades Councils in Maine and New Hampshire are considering similar measures to call for action by their governors, while the Rhode Island Building Trades issued a response asking Governor Gina Raimondo to maintain construction as an essential industry.
Governor Baker and others in the region, had initially ordered stay-at-home orders but listed construction as an essential industry. But last week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo tightened the restrictions on the construction industry, allowing only emergency or response-supporting projects to continue. He did so with the support of the building trades in the state.
Last week, Vermont became the last state in the region to issue a stay-at-home order and listed only emergency construction and construction projects directly related to COVID-19 response efforts to continue.