Brothers and Sisters,

On behalf of all of us at Local 537, Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families.

This holiday, please protect your family and your coworkers by being safe at work and at home.

We know that safety is everyone’s responsibility, and as union members, we must all do our part for the collective good. To do that during these times, we must adhere to the public health guidelines that have advised against large holiday gatherings and crowds.

We recognize this is a difficult request, but COVID-19 rates continue to spike across the region, and we must keep holiday gatherings small this year — very small — to protect your family and your home.

Avoid crowds. Wash your hands regularly. Wear masks. Aim to limit the size of your gatherings to those you live with and see every day.

Remember, a negative test today doesn’t mean that you aren’t carrying the virus, and you could pass it on to someone tomorrow.

Even small gatherings of 10 people or less have a high likelihood of including someone who is infectious with COVID-19. And infectious people may have no symptoms at all.

In a small gathering where people are close and not wearing masks, the virus spreads quickly.

The following is the story of an actual outbreak that recently occurred in a family gathering of four related households. Almost everyone at the gathering ended up getting infected, and one person ended up in the ICU.

1.   15 people from four households gathered at home to eat a family dinner.

2.   The virus jumped from one household to the other during the gathering.

3.   11 of 15 family members were infected, including some children.

4.   The grandmother was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

During Thanksgiving we normally enjoy the cheer and warmth of gathering with our families and friends. This year, however, the best way to show our love is to stay apart. Make a phone call to check in or video chat through your phone or computer, if it’s an option.

For all those who have lost loved ones to the COVID-19 pandemic, or who may have loved ones fighting the virus right now, you are in our thoughts and in our hearts.

Many of you have healthcare workers and first responders in your family who are on the frontlines combatting the impact of this virus, and we are all grateful for their service and sacrifices. Let’s all keep them in mind with the choices we make this Thanksgiving.

COVID-19 is real. It has made a profound impact on our nation, on our industry, and it is once again straining the capacity of area hospitals.

As hard as it can be to stay apart from extended family, we must continue to be vigilant and use every best practice at our disposal to keep our communities and our industry safe.

Our union, together with Building Trades Unions across the region, has worked with supportive industry partners to make COVID-19 safety a clear part of our day-to-day work and safety practices. If there are job sites where these protections are not being followed, please reach out to the Union Hall.

Thank you, best wishes, and stay SAFE.

In Solidarity,

Tom Kerr
Business Manager/Financial Secretary-Treasurer
Pipefitters Local 537