Now that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has officially granted full approval for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, other approvals are expected to quickly follow. As a result, more companies are mandating employees to get vaccinated or face steeper healthcare costs, mandatory weekly COVID-19 testing or outright termination.
Dorsey Hager, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Columbus/Central Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council, joined the America’s Work Force Union Podcast to discuss the future of vaccines in the building trades.
He also discussed the incredible growth of Columbus and central Ohio, recent projects and what that growth means to building tradesmen and tradeswomen.
Finally, he weighed in on the recent appointment of AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler and what the federation’s first woman president means for the labor movement.
Hager: Vaccine mandates are an inevitable reality
Hager said he has received a considerable amount of outreach from construction managers around the country asking his opinion on vaccines and mandates. Hager was clear to state that he believes in the safety of the vaccines. Hager himself is vaccinated for the safety of his coworkers, his family and community.
He pointed out that there is quality research that went into the vaccines and believes vaccines can provide the path back to normal life.
While the Columbus/Central Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council has not yet taken a stance on vaccine mandates, Hager said it is his personal view that they are coming. It is inevitable that unvaccinated workers will be prohibited from certain job sites and will miss out on employment opportunities if they do not choose to get vaccinated.
He understands that vaccines and vaccine mandates remain controversial in the construction industry. He recalled giving his position on the eventual inevitability of vaccine mandates at a recent union meeting and several people walked out. Vaccine mandates are becoming the reality of the modern world and people will have to adapt, he said.
Growth in Columbus and central Ohio bring good union jobs
Construction in Columbus and central Ohio is exploding. Google recently announced a $1.5 billion investment in data centers in New Albany and Lancaster. Both projects will bring good jobs to the region, he said.
Several large solar projects are set to break ground in the region, including a 5,000-acre solar project in Madison County, as well as a 3,600-acre and a 2,400-acre project within a 30-minute drive of Columbus. According to Hager, a 2,000-acre solar field employs roughly 100 to 125 electricians for 12-months to 18-months.
Amazon will also keep construction workers busy as the company builds more fulfillment centers in the area. Despite being a notoriously anti-union company, Amazon heavily relies on union construction because it knows the work will get done on-time and within budget, he said.
First female ALF-CIO President good for inclusion and diversity
Hager also discussed the recent appointment of Liz Shuler as AFL-CIO President. While Hager does not know Shuler personally, he believes she understands the issues labor faces because of her background as an IBEW member. It will be nice to have a woman leading the federation, he stated.
Shuler is smart, hardworking and dedicated. She will do an incredible job as AFL-CIO president, he added.