COVID-19 and Rochester Labor
IBEW Local 86
Interview with Mike Bader (Business Manager, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 86), 11 February 2021
When the virus first hit, about thirty or forty percent of construction work was suspended until the building trades were deemed "essential." At present, the normal wintertime sixty to seventy percent of IBEW 86 members are working. (Unlike workers in some construction trades — e.g., masons — electrical workers are able to work in the winter).
Whether or not testing for the virus is conducted on the job depends on the job site. Workers who test positive are quarantined. Electricians working at health care facilities, especially, are getting inoculated when they are able (tradesmen are in group 1-C for vaccines). Quarantined workers are paid while they are out. Perhaps thirty to forty members have been stricken with COVID-19.
Contractors have been providing face masks and shields. Local 86 got face masks with their logo on them for members. Contractors will lay-off workers who don't comply with PPE requirements. Apprentices are expected to wear masks in class as well as at work.
While the Executive Board continues to meet regularly and the Electricians' hall is cleaned frequently, membership meetings are on hold. The IBEW website has information about COVID and members can, and do, call the hall with questions.
There's some concern about the state budget and the release of funding for construction for the coming year. However, the governor's commitment to solar energy may result in more work than the local can handle.