Greetings Sisters and Brothers. I am both honored and humbled to address you as the 30th President of the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC). My obligation, and that of my Executive Board colleagues, to advance our Union, our crafts, and our industry is considerable, and one that we eagerly embrace.
BAC was founded more than 150 years ago to promote the livelihood, health, welfare and safety of masonry craftworkers and their families. And while our Union has accomplished much over the years, these goals remain as central to our mission today as they were then. Our Union remains dedicated to the proposition that only when the craftworkers engaged in our
trades are organized for the explicit purpose of mutual benefit, aid and protection can we achieve such goals. Indeed, during the current COVID-19 pandemic, worker solidarity is more important than ever.
The belief that every worker has the right to return home healthy from the jobsite has been a guiding principle for BAC since our founding. However, one of the central challenges that construction workers and their families face during the current pandemic is balancing their livelihood with the health challenges posed by the virus. Lacking any clear guidance or direction from OSHA or other federal resources BAC, in coordination with the National Building Trades and the Center for Construction Research & Training, has developed a national standard for infectious disease exposure control practices for construction sites.
This framework for exposure control (see page 3) outlines planning and implementation elements along with strong minimum standards for construction sites. In fact, in many places across North America, our local unions, contractors, and project owners have already implemented many of these exposure control practices (see pages 13–14). Rather than waiting for action from federal leaders slow to respond to this crisis, BAC is raising the bar for all construction workers.
BAC’s response to this crisis is not limited to the jobsite. In the pages of this Journal, there are numerous examples of BAC local unions across North America responding to their communities
in this time of need. Whether it be the donation of personal protective equipment (PPE) to healthcare workers on the frontlines of the pandemic, or supporting the first responders in their community, or ensuring that vital building infrastructure projects continue during this crisis, BAC members are there to meet the need (see page 18). It is the dedication of BAC members to their craft, to their communities, and to each other that has characterized our membership over the years. These core values remain the strength of our union, both at the bargaining table and in the public sphere. Because where unions are most firmly organized is where the rights of working people are most respected.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a crisis of historic proportions that threatens to challenge the rights of working people across the globe. While the trajectory and timing of this pandemic remains uncertain, BAC is unwavering in its commitment to strive at every level of our Union to ensure that BAC craftworkers, their families, and their communities emerge on a safe and prosperous path.