Will vaccine mandates become a reality on union construction sites?

Tom Germuska Jr., Editor of The Labor Citizen, joined the America’s Work Force Union Podcast to discuss the possibility of vaccine mandates and why they may eventually become inevitable.

He also discussed a $435 million deal between the Cleveland Indians, the city of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County and the state of Ohio to renovate Progressive Field and extend the team’s lease in Cleveland for at least 15 years.

Lastly, he discussed a study that showed partnerships between the pharmaceutical industry and craft unions yielded $23.6 billion in major construction projects over six years.

How vaccine mandates may bypass labor agreements

The September edition of The Labor Citizen includes a story on COVID-19 vaccines for construction workers, specifically about building trades union leaders urging their members to become vaccinated.

Most studies indicate the construction industry is on the low end of the vaccine acceptance spectrum, with only about 40 percent of construction workers fully vaccinated, Germuska said. Five international unions have recently taken actions to encourage their members to become vaccinated.

President Biden’s recent mandates that workers at large companies either get vaccinated or take weekly tests applies further pressure on the construction industry. Ultimately, the question on construction sites will come down to the amount of vaccinated people available to do the work, he said.

While vaccine mandates may technically be prohibited from Collective Bargaining Agreements, that is true only if the mandate comes from an employer. However, if the mandate comes from a project owner who is paying the bill, the mandate can circumvent the CBA, said Germuska.

Progressive Field stadium lease agreement will create union jobs

Last month, the Cleveland Indians announced a $435 million deal with the city of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County and the state of Ohio to renovate Progressive Field and extend the team’s stadium lease in Cleveland for at least 15 years.

Though Progressive Field was originally built as Jacobs Field and completed in 1994, there are only 10 baseball fields in the country older than it, Germuska said. Stadiums, technology and the way people watch baseball have evolved.

The Cleveland Building Trades have endorsed the proposed lease extension because a majority of the renovation work is expected to go union.

Big pharma and union partnerships bring millions in construction jobs

Germuska also discussed a recent study that showed partnerships between skilled craft unions and the biopharmaceutical industry led to $23.6 billion in investment across 14 states on major construction projects and over $5 million active at any point between 2015 and 2020. This provided union workers with 22.3 million manhours – earning more than $774 million in wages.

Large pharmaceutical companies trust labor unions to get the job done on time and within budget, Germuska said.


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