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Carpenters Union to Lift Directive, Give Members Option to Return to Work

The union said it is not ordering construction workers to return to jobsites, and anyone who does not feel safe may remain at home

construction workers
NBC10 Boston

Construction workers from a major industry union may be heading back to work this week in Massachusetts.

An earlier notice sent to workers, which told them starting April 6 to stop working during the coronavirus outbreak due to "abnormally dangerous" conditions, will be conditionally lifted on April 21 by the North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters, the group wrote in a letter obtained by NBC10 Boston Investigators.

The organization said that it is not directing members to return to the job, and that those who do not feel safe going to work may stay home. Employers should not retaliate against any member who declines to return to work, and workers staying home should still be able to receive unemployment benefits, Executive Secretary-Treasurer Joseph Byrne wrote in the letter.

Contractors wishing to resume projects must provide safety protocols for addressing the coronavirus outbreak at their jobsites, the union said. If it deems safety measures are not enough or are not being followed, the union could tell members to return home.

Construction workers would return to “essential projects,” including health care facilities, public works, infrastructure, schools, housing, roads and bridges, the union said. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has given the go-ahead for such work to continue.

This decision comes as Massachusetts sits in the “middle of the surge” of the coronavirus outbreak, as Baker said Sunday morning. There were 146 deaths and 1,705 new cases reported by state health officials Sunday.

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