The International Union of Painters and Allied Trades in and around Ohio have continued on, working and helping members through the pandemic. But just like everyone else in the labor movement, they have not gone unaffected.
IUPAT District Council 6 Business Manager/Secretary Treasurer Jim Sherwood discussed how District Council 6 has fared through the pandemic and what they are doing to reach out and help members on America’s Work Force Union Podcast.
Working through COVID-19
The pandemic has caused hardships for people throughout the labor community, but the members of IUPAT District Council 6 have worked hard to make it through. They adjusted to safety regulations and remote business in order to push through.
The District Council 6 workload has remained fairly steady throughout the pandemic, as construction was deemed an essential industry.
He said that the southern half of Ohio has continued working and gaining work throughout the past year, only experiencing a two-week lag in work. The northern half of the state experienced a slower patch and overall hours worked by the membership decreased slightly.
Pushing legislation and infrastructure work
Sherwood said District Council 6 and others in the labor community have worked hard to build relationships with Democrats and Republicans that have led to labor-friendly legislation. Despite this, he said it is scary that many bordering and regional states have become So-Called “Right to Work” states.
He said educating politicians and other regional figures is key to ensuring the labor community is accounted for.
Additionally, Sherwood advocated for an infrastructure plan. District Council 6 represents people who work to protect bridges and other infrastructure. However, Sherwood said District Council 6 is working to organize more non-union bridge contractors.
IUPAT Helping Hand program
Sherwood said many in the building trades face burdens that are difficult to deal with. Mental health, substance abuse and suicide are tough topics to tackle, but the IUPAT is doing its part through their Helping Hand program.
The program is designed to point IUPAT members in the right direction to receive any help or care they need. It includes training for staff members to be able to deal with emergency situations and more.
Sherwood said District Council 6 has taken the program very seriously and has helped many members, who are struggling in one way or another.