The state of Virginia has been a national leader in protecting its workers from COVID-19. As the first state to establish permanent workplace virus protections, its labor community has set the groundwork to protect workers from another situation similar to COVID-19.
One of the organizations that led the way in protecting workers is the Virginia State Building and Construction Trades Council. Their President, Jason Parker discussed the workplace protections as well as how building trades apprenticeships have fared, creating jobs and pushing for infrastructure legislation on AWF Union Podcast.
Permanent workplace virus protection standards
As the first state to establish permanent workplace virus protection standards, labor groups showed what being proactive in demanding action can do. Parker said it is encouraging that the state is finally listening to workers, as the state typically ranks low in many other metrics.
He said COVID-19 caught people by surprise, but with the new standard plans will be in place so that workers are better protected now and more prepared for any future virus.
Educating apprentices during a pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has touched just about everyone. One of the most heavily affected areas has been education. Having to adjust to online learning, reduced class sizes and other protective measures has strained educators and students alike.
Parker said affiliated building trades unions of the council have done a great job carrying on and adapting to the situation. Since much of the training associated with the building trades is hands-on, instructors had to get creative with their curriculum. While it has been challenging, Parker said the instructors have done a wonderful job.
Job creation and infrastructure
Parker said the building trades are working hard to secure projects that will create jobs for Virginians, while also being beneficial to the community.
He spoke of a large offshore wind farm project in the state that the building trades is working on with legislatures and Dominion in order to make this project become a reality. The project is expected to create hundreds of good-paying, union jobs.
Finally, Parker touched on infrastructure. He, like many in the building trades, is excited for the prospect of an infrastructure bill. This has been talked about through multiple presidencies, but Parker believes President Biden will deliver.