COVID 19 regulations have been relaxed in most areas throughout the United States and Canada. However, all Metal Trades Council leaders must remain diligent and aware of the dangers associated with the infection and strive to protect our affiliates and their members from contamination both in the workplace and when conducting organized council activities.
The Department recognizes that most council by-laws mandate delegate meetings are conducted live and under one roof. These assemblies are crucial to keeping affiliates and bargaining unit members informed, especially at a time when council leaders are engaged in collective bargaining and working hard to protect workers from employers and legislators who look to take advantage of them during a time of decreased public access.
There is no doubt that Zoom and multiple other videoconferencing applications are here to stay. Neither their effectiveness nor use should be degraded or minimalized by council officers as this platform provides both a time-saving and cost-effective forum that benefits council affiliates and bargaining unit members through heightened representational access. However, live meetings are without a doubt more compelling and exciting. Videoconferencing cannot replace the crucial function of such gatherings.
Accordingly, the Department encourages any local council not doing so to reinstate all in-person council representation activities in an orderly, safe, and productive manner. Should a council choose (without valid reason) not to comply with this request, they may be subject to charges from affiliates and bargaining unit members of violation of Taft Hartley and the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act.
However, in doing so, council officers are urged to consider the implementation of the following guidelines:
1. Strictly abide by all federal, state and local COVID 19 rules and regulations governing public assembly.
a. In the absence of government or institutional prohibitions regarding COVID 19, council officers should adopt common-sense safety measures and enforce them. All safety measures need to be adequately communicated to attendees prior to the meeting.
2. Limit the service of refreshments. By eliminating refreshments, council officers eliminate a common gathering spot where germs can be easily spread.
3. Consider hosting meetings in larger spaces to provide for socially distant meetings.
4. Clean thoroughly before and after meetings.
5. Encourage hand washing and sanitizing throughout the assembly.
6. Host hybrid meetings to accommodate those who state that they feel uncomfortable attending in person.
Should you have any questions regarding this important request, please feel free to contact your respective Department General Representative at your convenience.
FROM: James Hart, President, Metal Trades Department
RE: Vaccine Mandate
Dear Council President,
Late last week the Biden Administration announced the details of a policy change that the department maintains directly affects three segments of the Metal Trades workforce.
Employees in the Direct Employ of Government:
As the language contained in the policy change appears to be ambiguous when referring to federal employees, please note that until further clarification is obtained by the department regarding vaccinating instructions and deadlines, the council is advised to observe the vaccination deadline of November 22, 2021.
Employees not on schedule to be fully vaccinated with either their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna or a single dose of Johnson & Johnson by November 22, 2021, can expect to be required to attend counseling that will lead to progressive discipline and termination.
Employees in the Employ of Federal Contractors:
A new vaccination deadline of January 4, 2022, has been established in the President’s guidelines regarding the federal contractor employee vaccination requirement. Employees of federal contractors will need to have their final vaccination dose, either their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna or a single dose of Johnson & Johnson by January 4, 2022. Please advise the department should any agency contractor express disagreement with this newly established deadline.
Requirement for all Employers with 100 or more Employees:
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has announced the details of a requirement for employers with 100 or more employees to ensure each of their workers is fully vaccinated or tests for COVID-19 on at least a weekly basis. The OSHA rule will also require that these employers provide paid time for employees to get vaccinated, and ensure all unvaccinated workers wear a face mask in the workplace. Please note that this particular provision has been recently tested in a federal appeals court and a decision was handed down by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily halting the vaccine requirement for businesses with over 100 employees. The department is of the opinion that this decision has no bearing on employees of contractors doing business with the federal government.
All council officers are encouraged to continue diligently negotiating the effects of bargaining issues until the concerns of the bargaining unit members and their affiliate local unions are addressed. As unemployment benefits are determined by the respective state Division of Unemployment Assistance it is unknown whether unemployment benefits will be provided to employees who resign because of the mandate. In the meantime, the department continues to adopt the position that each and every council is accountable to its affiliated local unions and their members to continue effects bargaining with its respective agencies or signatory employers over the vaccine mandate until a successful conclusion or impasse occurs.
As you know, the department strongly supports protecting our member’s health and safety in the workplace and the efforts being made to get more individuals within our ranks vaccinated.
However, the Metal Trades Department does not agree that the members of our affiliates should lose their position or be harmed due to the mandate. Although we continue bargaining at the national level over this matter, this may or may not prevent the employer from disciplining bargaining unit members not in compliance with the mandate due to predisposed or not agreed upon dates. Should council officers be faced with such a situation, please note that the department will assist bargaining units and affiliates in defending any disciplined bargaining unit member for being unlawfully penalized. In most cases, grievances should be filed by the local council on behalf of disciplined or terminated bargaining unit members. In addition, all concerned parties need to be made aware that the grievance and arbitration process shall be cumbersome and can take up to a year or more.
Should you require any further information, please feel free to contact me at your convenience. Attached for your information and use, please find a prepared document by the department of some frequently asked questions regarding the safety of the vaccine by bargaining unit members.
Each and every affiliate of the Metal Trades Department is proud of the work you are doing in representing the health, safety, rights, and concerns of the hard-working and dedicated members of the metal trades during these apprehensive times. Your commitment to workers and their families is both invaluable and praiseworthy.
FROM: James Hart, President Metal Trades Department
DATE: August 24, 2021
RE: Metal Trades Department COVID Vaccination Statement
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The ongoing Covid Pandemic and its ensuing variants are continuing to present metal trade’s workers and their families with ongoing challenges.
As the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has now given its final approval to the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, our council officers and local affiliates can expect more and more to be faced with a requirement from signatory contractors and owners that all employees produce proof of vaccination to enter their respective property or worksite.
The department fully understands that it is a matter of personal choice whether or not one agrees to be vaccinated. However, please be advised that I am in receipt of legal advice that owners and contractors have the right to require proof of vaccination in this situation. With that said, third parties may require vaccinations as a term of employment, but cannot implement such a policy without bargaining the effects of such policy with the council.
The department urges all metal trades bargaining unit members to take advantage of the opportunity to be vaccinated, so that affiliate members are not limited in their employment opportunities.
Should you have any questions regarding this communication or require any assistance in addressing this matter with council delegates, affiliate members and contractors, please feel free to contact me at the department headquarters at your convenience.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on all of our lives. To assist our stakeholders, the Department of Labor has created guidance for employees, claimants, employers, insurance carriers, and other interested parties to address COVID-19 illnesses covered by the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.
This guidance is posted to the Division of Federal Employees, Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation (DFELHWC) website Home Page. The guidance is in two sections as follows:
If you have any questions about this guidance, please contact your local Suboffice in the Eastern, Western and Southern compensation districts. The “Contact Us” page is available at the following link: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/owcp/dlhwc/lscontac.
TO: All House and Senate Members FROM: James Hart, President Metal Trades Department SUBJECT: Legislative Memo Federal Employee / Government Contractors Issues (COVID-19)
Dear Member of Congress:
As Congress considers additional measures to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, the Metal Trades Department, AFL-CIO, urges all members of Congress to conduct collective and individual oversight of current enacted “Cares Act” legislative packages that both Houses of Congress overwhelmingly passed to help American workers. This is necessary as many enacted solutions relating to issues affecting workplace safety and employment conditions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic are not being properly administered or carried out. Congress needs to do even more through legislation to help American workers during this pandemic crisis. However, it behooves the legislative branch to ensure that the new fixes currently enacted and in place are being correctly administered and benefitting the intended targets. I respectfully present the following issues for your information, attention and much needed remedy: Hazard Pay
Many federal workers and government contractor employees are putting themselves at increased risk of COVID-19 to work on the frontlines of the public health response and continue essential public-facing services. We urge you to insist that the existing statute which provides for hazardous pay differentials for duties involving unusual hazards that are not typical for the job, and certainly describe the current situation for many workers be enforced and paid by all affected government agencies. We urge that you further legislate hazard pay authority to provide a 25% increase in basic pay for employees in frontline or public facingpositions.
Pay continuity for contractor employees
Section 3610 of the CARES Act authorizes federal agencies to use their funds to modify contracts in order to reimburse costs incurred by a contractor to provide paid leave to employees who cannot work due to facility closures or other restrictions. This provision enables agencies to keep their contractor workforce in a ready state to return to the job when that becomes possible. Building upon OMB guidance for how agencies should determine whether and how to utilize this provision, we urge you to encourage the United States Air Force to maximize their use of this important new law.
1000 wage grade and salaried workers are laid off at Arnold Air Force Base in Tullahoma, Tennessee due to base closure. Adherence to this important provision of the law will provide pay continuity which will help mitigate the economic fallout from COVID-19 for contractor employees, their families, and surrounding communities. Personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies The failure of planning and preparation to ensure adequate supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) remains a significant concern for frontline workers across the country who cannot get the PPE they need to do their job safely. We have heard widespread alarm from federal and government contract employees who do not have the PPE they need, as well as concern about insufficient cleaning and disinfecting supplies for their workplaces. Congress has provided significant resources to address these needs for workers across the country, as well as appropriations for several agencies to procure the safety equipment and supplies needed for their workforces. All federal employees and contractors, like workers across the country, should have everything they need to stay safe on the job. We urge you to conduct oversight over federal agencies to ensure that all workers are properly protected from the silent killer which is this pandemic. On behalf of the Metal Trades Department, and its 17 International Union affiliates who represent 5 million members, I thank you for your time and consideration of these important matters. All federal workers and employees of government contractors deserve our full support now more than ever! Download the full letter: