March 19, 2020 – COVID-19 Update
Updated On: Aug 06, 2021

As we mentioned, as the COVID-19 situation evolves, we have been trying to get information from the contractors about worker health and safety on job sites. We also continue to field questions from members.

Make sure you read the IBEW/NECA National Disease Emergency Response Agreement, posted last night.

Please see the last two bullet points in that document:

The employer shall not contest any unemployment claims filed by employees temporarily furloughed as a result of a restricted or closed jobsite due to the coronavirus or similar disease, or who have refused to be present at the jobsite out of a genuine belief that being present would place them in imminent danger of contracting coronavirus, or who have been quarantined, or advised to self-quarantine, due to possible exposure to coronavirus; and

Such employees shall be permitted to return to their original positions with their employer upon the resumption of work on the jobsite, and/or their ability to return, without the need of the referral process, and irrespective of whether such employees have signed their local union’s out-of-work list.

Bottom line, we want you to be safe.

If your job site does close
Apply for unemployment right away. Even if you are not sure about your eligibility, just get in the system. You can apply online at the Wisconsin DWD web site:
Please let the office know if you are aware of job sites that are closed, or if you are not attending work.

If your job site does NOT officially close, but you have concerns about your health, or the health of those you live with, please do what you need to do. If you decide not to stay at work, get documentation. Ideally, request a termination slip in writing, and get your foreman to say “Temporary Furlough, COVID-19 concerns.”

We have reached out to NECA for more information.

*If you’re an apprentice, CW, CE, CWR: please see the Referral Tips for Apprentices, CWs, CEs.

Governor Evers is working to waive the one-week waiting period for Unemployment applicants, 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?”)

The AFL-CIO encourages you to contact your senator to support the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act, HR6201, at 866.832.1560

March 18 was the last day for online voter registration.
You can still register to vote in person at your municipal clerk’s office. If you want an absentee ballot, the last day to request one is officially April 2nd. But do it as soon as you can. *NOTE – You must be registered to vote to make an online request for an absentee ballot.* The Wisconsin Elections Commission is a good resource for election updates:

See South Central Federation of Labor candidate endorsements at
Jill Karofsky is the labor-friendly candidate running for Wisconsin Supreme Court.

The Building Trades Council of South Central Wisconsin, Previant Law Firm provided a summary of some of the most frequent COVID/coronavirus questions they have received over the last week. Note that the guidance and rules are changing frequently and that the law being considered (discussed in the summary) is still being modified and changed and they do not know what it will look like in final form. See the FAQ here.

The more information the Local 159 office has, the better it can serve the members. Please let the office know if your worksite is closed, and/or if you personally are not attending work, regardless of your status (RIF, furlough, or whatever). The goal is to have an idea of how many people and job sites are affected. Please keep in touch with your questions, and with information.

Remember, the Local 159 office is closed to visitors. Office staff continue to serve members by phone and electronically. Please watch and the IBEW 159 Facebook page for updates. Please share this information with others. Not everyone receives email or uses the internet. We will keep you posted.

Stay prepared, and stay well.
In Solidarity,

Sue Blue
Business Manager
IBEW Local 159

Contact Info
IBEW Local 159
4903 Commerce Ct.
McFarland, WI 53558

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