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March 23, 2020: COVID-19 Update

159 Family,

Governor Evers has issued an order that will go into effect tomorrow:

  • “Under the order, people will be able to go to grocery stores, doctor’s offices and pharmacies and go outside to exercise or walk a dog. But people will be required to stay at home for most other reasons and the governor noted that means “no sleepovers, no playdates and no dinner parties with friends and neighbors.” 
  • Businesses will be forced to close unless they are deemed to provide essential services.
  • Restaurants, which were closed by the governor last week for dine-in service, will be able to continue to provide delivery and curbside takeout, according to the governor.   
  • Some manufacturers, such as paper product maker Kimberly-Clark Corp., may also stay open under the governor’s order.
  • The governor hasn’t said what other operations would qualify as essential services, but he and his aides said details were being finalized and would be made public Tuesday. 
  • “Folks, ‘all hands on deck’ means you too,” Evers said in a live-streamed briefing. “Here is the bottom line: folks need to start taking this seriously.”
  • As with Evers’ past orders that limited the size of gatherings and closed schools and bars, local officials will be responsible for enforcement.”

Due to the Governor’s order, our office will be closed starting tomorrow and reopen whenever we are given the official okay to do so. Until then:

Members will still be able to contact us. Dial the office number and extension of the person you wish to speak to. Our phones have been set up to forward calls. You can also continue to pay dues either by the same phone system or online.

If there are any referrals, those will go on the job line and you can bid as usual. Any referral paperwork will go directly to the contractor for you to complete. You can also sign/re-sign by calling the job line (608) 255-0169. Bid on jobs as normal. To sign the book, leave your name, book you are signing, phone number, date and time of call. Remember: always speak slowly and clearly when leaving your message.

If you decide to stay home due to your own COVID-19 concerns per the March 16 IBEW/NECA National Disease Emergency Response Agreement (NDERA), (see email blast or posts from March 20).

Talk with your foreman or shop, and let them know.

In addition follow this up by also sending a text, or something in writing.
You do NOT need to get a termination slip.

Unemployment:  Go ahead and apply, even if you are not certain whether you are eligible. Get into the system. When you apply, the Unemployment application will ask if you are on the out-of-work book.

It’s okay if you are not. Answer the questions as accurately as you can.  If you expect to return to work, indicate that. More about Unemployment:

  • If you are furloughed, you CAN apply for Unemployment,
    For Unemployment hours and other information,
    For help using online Unemployment services, or if you are unable to go online call (414) 435-7069, or toll-free (844) 910-3661 during business hours.
  • After applying for Unemployment, if you have any issues with your case, contact Local 159.

Info about Unemployment Benefits and COVID-19,

Governor Evers is working to waive the one-week waiting period for Unemployment, but that has yet to be finalized in the Wisconsin legislature.

Contact your assembly representatives to support waiving the one-week waiting period.
(Find your legislators at: Enter your address under “Who are my legislators?”)

  • Apprentices, if you apply for Unemployment remember: You will be asked a series of questions, including, “Are you a student?” The correct answer is: NO. You are NOT a student. Even if you (usually) attend work-related classes. If you are an apprentice, trainee, CW/CWR/CE, and you are doing course work for any related classes (PRI, URI, etc.), for Unemployment purposes, you are NOT a student.
  • Keep up with apprenticeship-related obligations. Stay current with your school work and obligations (whether online or in person), including tuition and/or course fees.

Stay home, if you can. Take this health crisis seriously. Let us know whatever we can do to help you and your family through this.

In solidarity,

Sue Blue