Increase in COVID-19 Cases

Dear IBEW Local 292 Members:

It has been nearly ten weeks since Governor Tim Walz issued his Emergency Peace Time Executive Order in response to the COVID-19 situation. On May 18, an executive order was issued to relax the stay at home order and on June 1st, we will see a plan implemented to open more businesses and further ease restrictions. Through all of this, we need to be diligent and adhere to the recommendations to avoid exposure to COVID-19.

Unfortunately, with the slow and safe opening of restrictions over the last week, we have seen an increase of COVID-19 cases on jobsites. It is possible, we could see the exposure and spread further increase as more restrictions are eased. Now, more than ever, it is important to follow the recommended guidelines outlined by the CDC and the Minnesota Department of Health. Social distancing, wearing masks, washing hands frequently, keeping surfaces disinfected and clean are just a few of the precautions we should be taking.

There are some other important job-related recommendations that I urge you to take. If there are confirmed cases of COVID-19 on the jobsite you are on, please notify us immediately. If the jobsite is shut down and you are asked to go home, take a furlough, or take a layoff, please stay at home and quarantine for the recommended 14 days. For the safety and health of your family and fellow workers, you should NOT be seeking work elsewhere. Additionally, we are asking employers not to send you to another jobsite where you could potentially infect others, during this time. Following quarantine procedures and recommended social distancing are ways to prevent this virus from spreading. If you or someone close to you is feeling sick, or has symptoms associated with COVID-19, you should not return to work and should seek medical attention. With it easier than it has been to get a test, we recommend you pursue that option with a medical professional’s recommendation. There are many locations around the state conducting tests now, here is a link to those test LOCATIONS.

According to the IBEW-NECA National Disease Emergency Response Agreement (NDERA). “There shall be no adverse action taken against an employee who refuses to be present at the jobsite so long as the employee genuinely believes there is imminent danger and a reasonable person would agree there is a real danger of contracting coronavirus at the jobsite, nor shall any adverse action be taken against an employee who has been quarantined, or advised to self-quarantine, due to possible exposure to coronavirus.”

Also, as with one of the most recent Executive Orders from Governor Walz (EO 20-54).

”Pursuant to Minnesota Statutes 2019, section 182.654, subdivision 9, and Code of Federal Regulations, title 29, section 1977.9(c), employers must not discriminate or retaliate in any way against a worker communicating orally or in writing with management personnel about occupational safety or health matters related to COVID19, including asking questions or expressing concerns.”

Further, in Executive Orders from Governor Walz (EO 20-54).

“workers have the right to refuse to work under conditions that they, in good faith, reasonably believe present an imminent danger of death or serious physical harm. This includes a reasonable belief that they have been assigned to work in an unsafe or unhealthful manner with an infectious agent such as COVID-19. Employers must not discriminate or retaliate in any way against a worker for the worker’s good faith refusal to perform assigned tasks if the worker has asked the employer to correct the hazardous conditions, but they remain uncorrected. These situations should be immediately reported to the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (“DLI”).”

Again, please call the IBEW Local 292 office immediately at 612-379-1292 if you feel an unsafe situation exists.
You can also report a jobsite concern with MN OSHA, Contact Minnesota OSHA Compliance at osha.compliance@state.mn.us, 651-284-5050 or 877-470-6742 with questions.
Please, take care of yourself, your family, and your IBEW Brothers and Sisters!

In Brotherhood,
Jeffery J. Heimerl, Business Manager