‘Worker shortage’ has not reached most Central Illinois unions

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BLOOMINGTON — Michael Irvin had steadily added some events to his dry erase board this summer, but lately he has had to start erasing more and more.

Irvin is a business agent for the International Alliance of Theatre and Stage Employees Local 193, which provides labor for stage setups and teardowns at concerts, theater shows, conferences and other staged events across Central Illinois.

While there may be plenty of job openings in industries such as retail and hospitality, causing some businesses to offer unique incentives to return to work, the majority of union jobs have remained steady. But Irvin’s industry has been one of the odd ones out.

He said the Delta variant of COVID-19 has cost his union work just as it began to supply labor again after a long hiatus throughout the pandemic, when the virus shut down large gatherings like concerts for more than a year.



International Alliance of Theatre and Stage Employees Local 193 members from left, Kalyn Hinshaw, Ken Hinshaw, Krystle Robards, Ann Dunn and Michael Irvin, pose during an informational picket at the Corn Crib in Normal. The IATSE Local 193 union has picketed at two summer concerts in attempt to negotiate a contract with the Corn Crib, The Castle Theatre and NTL Productions. 




PHOTO PROVIDED



“There is no other union that has been affected by this pandemic as badly as we have,” Irvin said. “We were the first one to shut down and we are the last ones coming back to work. As far as I know, most every union is already back to work.”

That’s the case for Ron Paul, business manager for Bloomington-based Laborers Local 362 of the Laborers’ International Union of North America Midwest Region.



Ron Paul of Laborers Local 362 of the Laborers’ International Union of North America Midwest Region




PHOTO PROVIDED



Paul said their trade workers have been on the job since the beginning of the pandemic. In fact, they’ve been adding more members lately, with about 50 new workers in the past two years, an increase from the typical five to 10 new people in that time frame, he said.

Paul characterized the present as a “building boom,” crediting electric vehicle startup Rivian as “a huge reason” for more work.



International Alliance of Theatre and Stage Employees Local 193 members from left, Scott Alfeo, Ken Hinshaw, Kalyn Hinshaw and Mike King, pose during an informational picket at the Corn Crib in Normal. The IATSE Local 193 union has picketed at two summer concerts in attempt to negotiate a contract with the Corn Crib, The Castle Theatre and NTL Productions. 




PROVIDED



“Right now is a good time because there’s just so much work,” Paul said. “We’re not taking guys in and having them wait three weeks, six weeks before we can find them a job. Right now, we’re sending guys to work before we even get our list. We have jobs waiting for them.”



Ron Paul, business manager for Bloomington-based Laborers Local 362 of the Laborers’ International Union of North America Midwest Region, says the organization has added about 50 new workers in the past two years, an increase from the typical five to 10 new people in that time frame.




PHOTO PROVIDED



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Decatur Building and Construction Trades Council President Josh Sapp, who also is the business manager for Decatur-based IBEW Local 146, echoed Paul’s remarks, describing a “pretty fierce competition” for journey-level craft people like plumbers or wiremen.

“That skill level work is pretty good across Illinois,” Sapp said. “Normally when work is slow, we borrow from each other’s localities to help man the work, but right now the work is good enough that there’s just a surplus of that type of work.”

While private sector unions have experienced a building boom, Adam Heenan, vice president of the Bloomington-Normal Trades and Labor Assembly, said the increased work is not uniform. Some employers continue to not hire union work, he said.

Several instances where union workers were not hired led to informational pickets at a couple of Bloomington-Normal sites.

Heenan said the Operative Plasterers’ and Cement Masons’ International Association Local 18 picketed a construction site near the Dollar Tree and Hy-Vee on Veterans Parkway in Bloomington. 

The other pickets were stage workers from IATSE Local 193 before two summer concerts at the Corn Crib. The informational pickets aimed to open a dialogue about a contract with leadership from the Corn Crib, The Castle Theatre and NTL Productions.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker celebrates legislation that aims to increase the equitable access to digital education for all Illinois students.



Using untrained workers for stage setups and teardowns is a risk “starting from the truck to the whole setup,” Irvin said.

Union leaders agreed that the U.S. is not facing a worker shortage, but rather that wages have not kept up with inflation and that some employers have not offered adequate benefits or safety measures.

Sapp said Decatur’s union has seen an increase of non-union workers interested in joining unions throughout the pandemic. A driving reason for that, he said, is because union jobs are more likely to have health insurance and more workplace safety rules.

Heenan added: “When we think about this wage crisis, our emphasis is really to say, look, we have a number of people willing to do the work, but they are not willing to do the work in unsafe conditions and they’re not willing to do the work when they can’t afford to put food on the table for their family or a roof over their heads.”




Illinois Legislative Redistricting

Illinois State Rep. Lisa Hernandez, D-Cicero, shakes hands with Illinois State Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, as he crosses the aisle to speak with her after passage of the Illinois legislative maps proposal on the floor of the Illinois House of Representatives at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield on Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021. 



Illinois Legislative Redistricting

Illinois State Rep. Lisa Hernandez, D-Cicero, holds her hand over her heart as she is thanked by Illinois State Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, D-Peoria, after passage of the Illinois legislative maps proposal on the floor of the Illinois House of Representatives at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield on Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021.



Illinois Legislative Redistricting

Illinois State Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, talks with Illinois State Rep. Lisa Hernandez, D-Cicero, after passage of the Illinois legislative maps proposal on the floor of the Illinois House of Representatives at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, Ill., Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021.



Illinois Legislative Redistricting

Illinois State Rep. Avery Bourne, R-Morrisonville, gives her remarks on the Illinois legislative maps proposal during debate on the floor of the Illinois House of Representatives at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, Ill., Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021. 



Illinois Legislative Redistricting

Illinois State Rep. Ryan Spain, R-Peoria, asks Illinois State Rep. Lisa Hernandez, D-Cicero, to pull the resolution on the Illinois legislative maps proposal from the record because of alleged factual errors during debate on the floor of the Illinois House of Representatives at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, Ill., Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021. 



Illinois Legislative Redistricting

Illinois State Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, D-Peoria, right, hugs Illinois State Rep. Carol Ammons, D-Urbana, left, on the floor of the Illinois House of Representatives prior to debate on the floor of the Illinois House of Representatives at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, Ill., Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021.



Illinois Legislative Redistricting

Illinois State Rep. Delia Ramirez, D-Chicago, gives her remarks on the Illinois legislative maps proposal during debate on the floor of the Illinois House of Representatives at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, Ill., Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021. 



Illinois Legislative Redistricting

Illinois State Rep. Deanne Mazzochi, R-Elmhurst, gives her remarks on the Illinois legislative maps proposal during debate on the floor of the Illinois House of Representatives at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, Ill., Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021. 



Illinois Legislative Redistricting

Illinois State Rep. Curtis Tarver, D-Chicago, gives his remarks on the Illinois legislative maps proposal during debate on the floor of the Illinois House of Representatives at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, Ill., Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021.



Illinois Legislative Redistricting

Illinois State Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, talks with Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, during debate on the floor of the Illinois House of Representatives at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, Ill., Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021. 



Illinois Legislative Redistricting

Illinois State Rep. Lisa Hernandez, D-Cicero, center, gets a standing ovation after passage of the Illinois legislative maps proposal on the floor of the Illinois House of Representatives at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, Ill., Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021. 



Illinois Legislature

Illinois State Sen. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, gives his remarks on the omnibus energy bill on the floor of the Illinois Senate at the Illinois state Capitol in Springfield, Ill., Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021.



Illinois Legislature

Illinois State Sen. Sue Rezin, R-Morris, gives her remarks on the omnibus energy bill on the floor of the Illinois Senate at the Illinois state Capitol in Springfield, Ill., Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021. 



Illinois Legislature

Illinois Senate President Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, shakes hands with Illinois State Sen. Michael Hastings, D-Frankfort, on the floor of the Illinois Senate at the Illinois state Capitol in Springfield, Ill., Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021. 



Illinois Legislature

Illinois State Sen. Michael Hastings, D-Frankfort, center, is congratulated after the omnibus energy bill passes the Illinois Senate in the early morning hours at the Illinois state Capitol in Springfield, Ill., Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021. 



Illinois Legislature

Illinois Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford, D-Maywood, talks with Illinois Senate President Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, on the floor of the Illinois Senate at the Illinois state Capitol in Springfield, Ill., Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021.

Illinois Legislative Redistricting

Illinois State Rep. Lisa Hernandez, D-Cicero, shakes hands with Illinois State Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, as he crosses the aisle to speak with her after passage of the Illinois legislative maps proposal on the floor of the Illinois House of Representatives at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield on Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021. 

Illinois Legislative Redistricting

Illinois State Rep. Lisa Hernandez, D-Cicero, holds her hand over her heart as she is thanked by Illinois State Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, D-Peoria, after passage of the Illinois legislative maps proposal on the floor of the Illinois House of Representatives at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield on Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021.

Illinois Legislative Redistricting

Illinois State Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, talks with Illinois State Rep. Lisa Hernandez, D-Cicero, after passage of the Illinois legislative maps proposal on the floor of the Illinois House of Representatives at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, Ill., Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021.

Illinois Legislative Redistricting

Illinois State Rep. Avery Bourne, R-Morrisonville, gives her remarks on the Illinois legislative maps proposal during debate on the floor of the Illinois House of Representatives at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, Ill., Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021. 

Illinois Legislative Redistricting

Illinois State Rep. Ryan Spain, R-Peoria, asks Illinois State Rep. Lisa Hernandez, D-Cicero, to pull the resolution on the Illinois legislative maps proposal from the record because of alleged factual errors during debate on the floor of the Illinois House of Representatives at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, Ill., Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021. 

Illinois Legislative Redistricting

Illinois State Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, D-Peoria, right, hugs Illinois State Rep. Carol Ammons, D-Urbana, left, on the floor of the Illinois House of Representatives prior to debate on the floor of the Illinois House of Representatives at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, Ill., Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021.

Illinois Legislative Redistricting

Illinois State Rep. Delia Ramirez, D-Chicago, gives her remarks on the Illinois legislative maps proposal during debate on the floor of the Illinois House of Representatives at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, Ill., Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021. 

Illinois Legislative Redistricting

Illinois State Rep. Deanne Mazzochi, R-Elmhurst, gives her remarks on the Illinois legislative maps proposal during debate on the floor of the Illinois House of Representatives at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, Ill., Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021. 

Illinois Legislative Redistricting

Illinois State Rep. Curtis Tarver, D-Chicago, gives his remarks on the Illinois legislative maps proposal during debate on the floor of the Illinois House of Representatives at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, Ill., Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021.

Illinois Legislative Redistricting

Illinois State Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, talks with Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, during debate on the floor of the Illinois House of Representatives at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, Ill., Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021. 

Illinois Legislative Redistricting

Illinois State Rep. Lisa Hernandez, D-Cicero, center, gets a standing ovation after passage of the Illinois legislative maps proposal on the floor of the Illinois House of Representatives at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, Ill., Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021. 

Illinois Legislature

Illinois State Sen. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, gives his remarks on the omnibus energy bill on the floor of the Illinois Senate at the Illinois state Capitol in Springfield, Ill., Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021.

Illinois Legislature

Illinois State Sen. Sue Rezin, R-Morris, gives her remarks on the omnibus energy bill on the floor of the Illinois Senate at the Illinois state Capitol in Springfield, Ill., Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021. 

Illinois Legislature

Illinois Senate President Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, shakes hands with Illinois State Sen. Michael Hastings, D-Frankfort, on the floor of the Illinois Senate at the Illinois state Capitol in Springfield, Ill., Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021. 

Illinois Legislature

Illinois State Sen. Michael Hastings, D-Frankfort, center, is congratulated after the omnibus energy bill passes the Illinois Senate in the early morning hours at the Illinois state Capitol in Springfield, Ill., Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021. 

Illinois Legislature

Illinois Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford, D-Maywood, talks with Illinois Senate President Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, on the floor of the Illinois Senate at the Illinois state Capitol in Springfield, Ill., Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021.

Contact Kade Heather at 309-820-3256. Follow him on Twitter: @kadeheather

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Region: Decatur,City: Decatur,Local,Region: Central

via Herald-Review.com

September 5, 2021 at 10:47PM

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