April 07, 2020
These are unsettling times for all of us. To date, the majority of the members of IBEW Local 98 have been fortunate enough to avoid COVID-19. The Local 98 leadership team has prioritized the health and safety of our members while trying to keep as many as possible working for the benefit of their families and our regional economy.
Local 98 and all Building Trades unions are taking every precaution to protect our members during this outbreak. Any Building Trades members who recently visited another country, were on a cruise ship or are considered high-risk are not permitted to work at present. We're constantly micro-managing this volatile situation. We've installed new safety signage on all job sites reminding workers about coronavirus safety precautions. We've switched to bottled water on jobsites rather than traditional water coolers and cups that are touched by others. We are in frequent communication with area doctors who specialize in Infectious Diseases to stay abreast of breaking news and treatment options. We've provided Tele-Medicine access to all members. We frequently clean and disinfect all of our union halls and offices in the city and region. We are in constant communications with our contractors to ensure that they're providing all of us with additional protections, including more portable hand-wash stations and disinfectant hand-wipes. Most importantly, we have urged our members that, if they feel at all ill, to stay home!
As you would imagine, our members are still working at "life-sustaining" buildings in the five-county region, including hospitals, research clinics, medical facilities and the service businesses that support them. Members of the Building Trades will also be essential for all facility conversion projects into temporary medical and quarantine shelters, once the hospital systems reach capacity. During this turbulent time, IBEW Local 98 and Philadelphia Building Trades Business Manager John J. Dougherty is leading discussions with Mayor Kenney and the School District of Philadelphia to have Building Trades members go into all public school buildings known to contain dangerous asbestos and lead and do the remediation work now, while the buildings are empty. The Trades have the experience, the equipment and the necessary protective gear to do the work quickly, safely and effectively.
IBEW Local 98 and the Building Trades also are doing all we can to bring light and hope to region during these trying times. To that end, IBEW Local 98 recently produced a video that showcases all the charitable work we do year-round and especially during the winter holidays. It was Local 98's intent to share the video with its members shortly after the 2019 holiday season. Then the pandemic hit and changed the timing. As often happens, the odd circumstances of the present created an opportunity. The video was posted to YouTube and has been widely viewed. IBEW Local 98 Business Manager John J. Dougherty explains it best.
"In these dark days of COVID-19, we found that many people are illuminating their homes in colorful Christmas lights to bring a sense of joy and hope to their neighborhoods. In that spirit, we decided to share 'Local 98 Cares', a brief video about our charitable work during the holiday season and throughout the year to beautify our region and lend a helping hand to all who need it. The video is just a small reminder of the many good people in this union and the light and joy we bring to the many communities we serve."
You can watch the video here. We hope you enjoy it. Stay safe, Philadelphia. We will get through this!