Coronavirus Updates

This page has been updated as of Thursday, 4/2/2020.

Due to Governor Pritzker’s Stay At Home Order the Chicago Laborers' District Council Office Building is closed. However, all staff are working remotely and available to serve our members and affiliates. Please call the office at (630) 655-8289 for assistance or contact your Local Union.

Our number one priority during these unprecedented times is the safety and well-being of our members and their families. The Chicago Laborers’ District Council along with our affiliated Locals and organizations are working with our signatory contractors and public officials, as well as closely monitoring updates from Federal, State and Local governments to determine the best course of action regarding the coronavirus pandemic. 

We will regularly post news and information here relevant to our members, affiliates and signatory contractors in addition to FAQs.

Please be advised that all information posted, including the website links, guidelines, and regulations restated herein, is based on the most recent information available to the Laborers’ District Council.  This information may change or be modified at any time in this unprecedented and rapidly evolving situation (see Disclaimer below).

City of Chicago and Municipal Employees should seek additional information from their Locals.
Laborers’ Local 1001
Laborers’ Local 1092

The State of Illinois is also keeping the public informed via the State of Illinois’ Coronavirus Response website.

Latest News
Governor Pritzker Set to Extend Executive Order for Another 30 Days 3/31/2020
Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation Announces Help for Consumers Struggling to Make Payments on their Debts Due to the COVID-19 3/30/2020
Coronavirus Response Package Is a Step Forward But It Does Not Address Many Critical Issues Affecting Working Families 3/30/2020
U.S. Social Distancing Guidelines Extended to April 30 3/29/2020
LIUNA Health & Safety: Recommended COVID-19 Response Plan for Construction 3/24/2020
Jesse White Extends Office Closures, Including Driver Services Facilities
Governor Pritzker Issues Stay at Home Executive Order 3/20/2020
IDOT Construction Projects Will Continue 3/21/2020
Illinois Capital Development Board Response to Coronavirus 3/19/2020
Chicago Laborers’ Training Fund Classes Suspended 3/19/2020
IDOT and Illinois Tollway Response to Coronavirus 3/19/2020
All IDOL Hearings Cancelled Until Further Notice 3/19/2020

Coronavirus Frequently Asked Questions

Stay At Home Executive Order Q&A
When will the Stay at Home Order end?
Stay at Home Executive Order General FAQs
Governor's Daily COVID-19 Q&A 3/22/2020
Governor's Daily COVID-19 Q&A 3/21/2020

COVID-19 Essential Workers and Construction Q&A
I'm an essential worker, where can I get child care for my children when I'm working?

What does the Stay at Home order mean for construction jobsites?
How is COVID-19 affecting the construction industry generally and my job specifically?
What Steps Can I Take to Stay Safe at Home and at Work?
I'm a construction Laborer, what should I do if my jobsite has been shut down due to COVID-19 NEW! 4/2/2020

Health & Welfare Fund Q&A
Chicago Laborers' Pension & Welfare Funds/Westchester Questions & Answers
Fox Valley Health & Welfare and Pension Funds Questions & Answers

Training Center Q&A
Is the Training Center Holding Classes?

Unemployment Insurance Q&A Updated 4/2/2020
What is the Unemployment Insurance Website?
I'm an independent contractor, do I qualify for unemployment benefits due to COVID-19? Updated 4/2/2020!
I have exhausted my rights to UI. Will additional benefits be available because of the COVID-19 situation? Updated 4/2/2020!
Will there be additional benefits for people unemployed because of COVID-19? Updated 4/2/2020!
What if I can't get a response when I try to file on the phone or online? New! 3/30/2020
How will my Unemployment Benefits be affected by COVID-19?
What is Unemployment Insurance?
Nobody is answering when I call in for my unemployment claim, what should I do?
Where do I file for unemployment benefits online?
Am I eligible for Unemployment benefits if my hours have been reduced?
What determines if I'm able to work?
What determines if I'm available for work?
What determines if I'm actively seeking work?
What if I'm temporarily laid off because the place where I work is temporarily closed because of the COVID-19 virus?
What if I quit my job because I am generally concerned over the COVID-19 virus?
What if I'm confined to my home because I've been diagnosed with COVID-19 or because I have to stay home to care for a loved one or because of a government-imposed/recommended quarantine?
What if I leave work because my child's school has temporarily closed?


Unemployment Q&A for Employers
If a business decides to shut down voluntarily before mandated, will staff be able to qualify for unemployment?
Should employees file for UI benefits if their hours have been reduced?
If an employee receives UI benefits as a result of COVID-19 will the employer's UI contribution rate increase?
If an employee files for UI benefits due to COVID-19 will the employer's UI taxes go up?
What happens in the case of potential closure or layoff?

Q: I’m a construction Laborer, what should I do if my jobsite has been shut down due to COVID-19?
A: If your jobsite has been shut down due to coronavirus, notify your Local union immediately.
You may be eligible for unemployment insurance. To file a claim go online at: https://www2.illinois.gov/ides/individuals/UnemploymentInsurance/Pages/default.aspx. For questions about eligibility click here: https://www2.illinois.gov/ides/Pages/COVID-19-and-Unemployment-Benefits.aspx

Q: When will the Stay at Home Order end?
A:
The original Stay at Home Executive Order extended through April 7th. However, due to the escalation of cases, new CDC guidance and the need to flatten the curve, Governor Pritzker announced that on April 1 he will sign a new Executive Order extending the disaster proclamation and the Stay at Home order through April 30.

Q: What does the Stay at Home Executive Order mean for construction jobsites?
A:
This Executive Order does not apply to essential infrastructure and critical trades. It also includes a broad exemption for local union activities and the administration of health and welfare funds. Ongoing construction projects will remain ongoing. Supervisors should emphasize social distancing on all job sites. The goal of this order is NOT to cease ongoing construction projects. Tradespeople are considered essential service providers who must be on the job. Updated as of late Friday, 3/20/2020

Q: How is COVID-19 affecting the construction industry generally, and my job specifically?
A:
As of March 20th, many job sites are still operating.  In some localities, Governors, Mayors and other leaders are restricting specific types of work to slow the spread of this virus.  However, broadly speaking, construction work has not been restricted within the Chicago District Council.  With that in mind, it is up to our signatory contractors to determine whether or not they continue operations at this time.

If your employer is asking you to continue to work, please make sure the employer is making every reasonable effort to maintain safe, clean and healthy work sites.  If you believe this is not the case, please reach out to your Local union representative and express your concerns about industrial hygiene at your place of work.

It is impossible to accurately speculate on what will become of everyone’s job in the short or long term.  Much of what Laborers do is vital to maintaining the civil infrastructure that makes everyday life work.  At this time, there is no talk of work like that being shut down.  However, other construction work may be considered more “elective”, often this is private construction, including buildouts.  Work like this may be at risk of shutting down, either by your employer or by the government, for health and safety considerations.

Q: What steps can I take at home and at work to stay safe?
A:
The CDC guidelines on maintaining hygiene are to:

  1. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
  2. Practice social distancing by limiting person-to-person contact within six feet, especially in large groups or in enclosed spaces. Avoid gatherings of 10 or more people.
  3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  4. Thoroughly clean and disinfect objects and surfaces you regularly come into contact with.
  5. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  6. If you feel sick, stay home from work to avoid spreading any illness further. If you must go out in public, do your best to avoid close contact with other people.
  7. If you believe you have contracted the coronavirus, you should contact your healthcare provider BEFORE attempting to go to a hospital.  Discuss symptoms and options with your primary care physician.

 At the jobsite:

  1. Avoid gathering with large groups of 10 or more people. 
  2. Make sure your employer makes hand sanitizer or hand washing facilities available to all people working on site. 
  3. Hygiene related to the bathroom or portable toilets is also critically important.
  4. Do not share other workers’ phones, PPE or other work tools and equipment.
  5. Report symptoms of COVID-19 immediately. If you are sick, stay home. If you feel sick and are at work, tell your supervisor.
  6. Cooperate with response measures instituted by your employer and those recommended by health officials at the federal, state and local levels.

Chicago Laborers' Pension & Welfare Funds/Westchester

Q: What does the Stay At Home Order mean for the Westchester Benefit Fund Office?
A:
The Fund Office is an Essential Business under Governor Pritzker’s Stay At Home Order and is continuing to operate. Due to the risk of infection from the coronavirus, most of the Fund Office staff will be working remotely to continue to provide services to you and your family.  Visitor access to the Fund Office will be limited until the outbreak subsides.

This is for the health and safety of you, the Fund Office Staff and your families.  Please call the office (708) 562 - 0200 for assistance and they will try to answer your questions over the telephone.

If you have documents to drop off at the Fund Office, you may use the mailbox to the right side of the entry door. .The mailbox will be checked periodically during the day and your documents will be processed as soon as possible.  Please make sure the documents include your name, ID number, which can be found on your BlueCross BlueShield ID card, and a phone number where you can be reached if there are questions concerning the documents.

If you need to apply for your pension, please call (708) 562-0200 Ext. 530 or email pension@chilpwf.com to let the Fund Office know that you intend to retire.  An application package will be sent to you and representatives will be available by telephone to help you complete the application forms.

Q: Will the Health & Welfare Fund Cover COVID-19 Testing (Westchester)?
A: Testing for COVID-19:
Effective March 18, 2020, the Westchester Active and Retiree Plans were amended to provide coverage for diagnostic tests to detect COVID-19 that are approved or authorized by the FDA, including the administration of such tests.  The Plans will also provide coverage for services furnished during provider office visits (whether in person or via telehealth), urgent care visits, and emergency room visits that result in an order for, or the administration of, the test described above, but only to the extent such items or services relate to the furnishing or administration of the test or the evaluation of whether the person needs the test.  These tests and services related to the tests will be covered without any cost sharing (meaning they are not subject to a deductible, copayment or co-insurance), regardless of whether they are provided by an in-network or out-of-network provider.

Q: Will Treatment for COVID-19 be covered (Westchester)?
A: The Westchester Fund will cover medically necessary treatment (physician, hospital, emergency room), supplies, and prescription medications as with any other sickness, subject to Plan rules.

Q: Will Telehealth Visits be covered (Westchester)?
A: 
Effective immediately, Telehealth visits with a healthcare provider will be covered the same as physician office visits, subject to Plan rules.

Q: Will Vaccinations for COVID-19 be covered (Westchester)?
A: There is currently no vaccination for COVID-19, but if and when a vaccination becomes available, it will be covered under the medical plan at 100%.

Fox Valley Health and Welfare and Pension Funds

Q: What does the Stay At Home Order mean for Fox Valley Benefit Fund Office?
A:
Due to the recent order by Governor J.B. Pritzker, and to limit the risk of infection to our staff, our participants, and their families, the Fund Office will remain closed to in-person services until April 7, 2020, or the duration of the Governor’s shelter-in-place order.  We remain committed to assisting you and do not anticipate any disruption in the services we provide at this time.  The office is staffed and we are able to assist you by telephone at (847) 742-0900.  Documents may be dropped off at the Fund Office in the vestibule.  We appreciate your understanding. 

Q:  How are my benefits affected by COVD-19 (Fox Valley)?
A: On March 18, 2020, the President signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act into law designed to help Americans affected by the coronavirus outbreak.  The Act requires health plans to cover certain services in regard to the coronavirus (COVID-19).  The following benefit coverage changes are effective immediately:

Q: Will Testing for COVID-19 be covered (Fox Valley)?
A: FDA approved COVID-19 diagnostic testing products, including items and services associated with a provider visit (office, urgent care and emergency room) that relates to the evaluation, are covered at 100% without deductible, coinsurance or copays to participants and dependents.

Q: Is prior authorization required (Fox Valley)?
A:
There is no prior authorization required.

Q: Will Telehealth Visits be covered (Fox Valley)?
A: Telehealth services related to the screening for COVID-19 are a covered benefit when offered by providers.

Q: Will my treatment for COVID-19 be covered (Fox Valley)?
A:
After diagnosis, follow-up care is covered under the normal plan benefit level.

Q: What about my prescriptions (Fox Valley)?
A: 
CVS will approve one-time emergency refills of a 30-day supply of medication during this event.  Also, CVS Pharmacy will waive charges for home delivery of prescription medication in an effort to encourage individuals at higher risk for COVID-19 complications to stay home as much as possible.  Certain restrictions apply.  Visit www.info.caremark.com/covid-19 for additional detail

Q: Where can I get support in coping (Fox Valley)?
A:
Please be reminded that Employee Resource Systems, Inc. is available to support you as you cope with these uncertain times.  They are available 24/7/365 at (800) 292-2780 or www.ers-eap.com.

Unemployment Insurance

Please, visit the Illinois Department of Employment Security’s FAQs page for more information.

Q: What is the Illinois Unemployment Insurance website?
A: Illinois Department of Employment Security website click here

Q: How will my Unemployment Benefits be Affected by COVID-19?
A:
Unemployment benefits may be available to some individuals whose unemployment is attributable to COVID-19. IDES recently adopted emergency rules to try to make the unemployment insurance system as responsive to the current situation as possible. 

Q: What is Unemployment Insurance (UI)?
A:
In general, UI provides temporary income maintenance to individuals who have been separated from employment through no fault of their own and who meet all eligibility requirements, including the requirements that they are able and available for work, register with the state employment service and actively seek work. Click here for more information.

Everyone should err on the side of filing whether you think you are eligible or not.  For example, if you think you were misclassified as an independent contractor – you should still file.  IDES will review your file, provide you benefits, then go after the employer for misclassifying you.

Q: Am I eligible if my hours have been reduced?
A:
If your hours are reduced from full-time to part-time and you are now making less than your weekly benefit amount - you may be eligible for benefits.

Q: What determines if I'm able to work?
A:
An individual is considered able to work if he or she is mentally and physically capable of performing a job for which a labor market exists.

Q: What determines if I'm available for work?
A:
To be considered available for work, an individual cannot impose conditions on the acceptance of work if those conditions essentially leave him or her with no reasonable prospect of work.

Q: What determines if I'm actively seeking work?
A:
An individual is considered to be actively seeking work if he or she is making an effort that is reasonably calculated to return the individual to work.

Q: What if I'm temporarily laid off because the place where I work is temporarily closed because of the COVID-19 virus?
A:
An individual temporarily laid off in this situation could qualify for benefits as long as he or she was able and available for and actively seeking work. Under emergency rules IDES recently adopted, the individual would not have to register with the employment service. He or she would be considered to be actively seeking work as long as the individual was prepared to return to his or her job as soon the employer reopened.

Q: What if I quit my job because I am generally concerned over the COVID-19 virus?
A: If you are trying to decide if you should quit or not, you can call IDES for advice first.
You may still be eligible for benefits. The eligibility of an individual in this situation will depend on whether the facts of his or her case demonstrate the individual had a good reason for quitting and that the reason was attributable to the employer. An individual generally has a duty to make a reasonable effort to work with his or her employer to resolve whatever issues have caused the individual to consider quitting.

Q: What if I’m confined to my home 1) because a licensed physician has diagnosed me as having COVID-19 or 2) because I must stay home to care for my spouse, parent or child, whom a medical professional has diagnosed as having COVID-19 or 3) because of a government-imposed or government-recommended quarantine?
A:
An individual in any of those situations would be considered to be unemployed through no fault of his or her own. However, to qualify for UI, he or she would still need to meet all other eligibility requirements, including the requirements that the individual be able and available for work, registered with the state employment service and actively seeking work from the confines of his or her home. The individual would be considered able and available for work if there was some work that he or she could perform from home (e.g., transcribing, data entry, virtual assistant services) and there is a labor market for that work.

Q: What if I leave work because my child’s school has temporarily closed, and I feel I have to stay home with the child?
A:
Ordinarily, an individual who left work to address child care needs would be considered to have left work voluntarily and would generally be disqualified from receiving UI, unless the reason for leaving was attributable to the employer. However, the fact that all schools statewide have temporarily closed in response to the COVID-19 virus presents a unique situation in which it is unlikely a parent whose child cannot stay home alone has a ready alternative to staying home with the child himself/herself. Under the current circumstances, someone who left work to care for the child could be considered as unemployed through no fault of his her own; in that case, to qualify for UI, the individual would still need to meet all other eligibility requirements, including the requirements that the individual be able and available for work, registered with the state employment service and actively seeking work from the confines of his or her home. The individual would be considered able and available for work if there was some work that he or she could perform from home (e.g., transcribing, data entry, virtual assistant services) and there is a labor market for that work. 

Q: I have exhausted my rights to UI. Will additional benefits be available because of the COVID-19 situation?  Updated 4/2/2020!
A: Under current Illinois law, an employee is eligible for 26 weeks of unemployment benefits.  Some individuals who have received their entire 26 weeks of regular unemployment benefits may be eligible for more weeks of benefits under the federal stimulus package. If you have exhausted your benefits, or you are close to exhausting your benefits, we are finalizing the process to continue benefits under the stimulus package. Details will be available as soon as IDES has received further guidance from the US Department of Labor.

Under the new federal CARES Act, the Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program adds 13 additional weeks to the applicant’s benefit year.  It is important to note, however, the Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program is only in effect through the end of the calendar year.  So, if an applicant files for unemployment in June, he or she would not be eligible for those 13 additional CARES Act benefit weeks into the calendar year 2021.

Q: Will there be additional benefits for people unemployed because of COVID-19? Updated! 4/2/2020
A: Yes. The new federal CARES Act adds up to $600 to the weekly benefit amount for an unemployed applicant, called "Plus Up" benefits.  The “Plus Up”  benefits are only available starting on or after March 29 and ending on July 31. 

Once the stimulus package has been implemented in Illinois, individuals receiving unemployment benefits will receive an additional $600 each week above what they would receive in regular unemployment benefits until July 31, 2020. This will not be retroactively applied to unemployment benefits received in the past. In many cases, individuals will also be eligible for more weeks of unemployment above the 26 weeks provided under regular unemployment rules. Both of these benefits will be applied automatically if you qualify.

Q: If a business decides to shut down voluntarily before mandated, will staff be able to qualify for unemployment? And does this go against the employer if they do so?
A: If a business decides to shut down, employees would be potentially eligible for benefits and are advised to open a claim as soon as possible. IDES is working with the Governor's office on legislation that would remove charge ability to employers for claims involving COVID-19 related issues.

Q: I'm an independent contractor do I qualify for unemployment insurance due to COVID-19? Updated 4/2/2020
A: Under regular unemployment rules, the incomes of self-employed workers, freelancers, and independent contractors are not subject to unemployment taxes and so typically these individuals are not eligible for unemployment benefits. The stimulus package creates a new, temporary program to help people who lose this type of work as a direct result of the current public health emergency. IDES will provide information about how to apply for this benefit as soon as it is finalized. Please do not apply at this time.

Q: Should employees file for unemployment insurance benefits if their hours have been reduced? For example, if an employee typically works 40 hours per week and their hours have been reduced to 20 hours per week due to COVID-19, can an employee file for unemployment insurance benefits for those 20 hours?
A: When someone files, their weekly benefit amount is determined using a formula, taking into consideration their base period wages. If someone is still working when they file, we have to determine how much they earned in a week. If the individual earned more than their weekly benefit amount in a week, they are not unemployed, so they are not eligible. If the individual earned some wages for part-time work, but the wages were less than their weekly benefit amount, they are eligible for benefits but some of those wages will offset their weekly benefit amount. 

Q: Nobody is answering when I call in for my unemployment claim, what should I do?
A:
The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) is overwhelmed by the extremely high volume of phone calls. Filing from a smartphone is not possible, so file from a computer if possible.  The online filing allows IDES to process your claims faster. To file your claims online click here.

Q: Where do I file for unemployment benefits online?
A: To file your claims online click here. Filing from a smartphone is not possible, so file from a computer if possible. 

Q: What if I can't get a response when I try to file on the phone or online? New! 3/30/2020
A: IDES is projecting more claims being filed in April 2020 than were filed in the entire 2019 calendar year.  IDES has made technical updates to help the online application system run more smoothly.  However, if an applicant is having trouble filing online, or cannot get through to the call center, and there is a delay in processing his or her unemployment claim, IDES will backdate the claim to the date of actual unemployment so the applicant will not be shorted any benefits.

For Employers:
Q:
If an employee receives unemployment benefits as a result of COVID-19, will the employer’s unemployment contribution rate increase?
A:
At this time, no further guidance has been issued. Until such time, normal procedures will be followed. In general, the contribution rate of an experience rated employer is based, in part, on the amount of unemployment benefits paid to the employer’s former employees. 

Q: If an employer's employee files for unemployment insurance benefits due to COVID-19, will the employer's unemployment insurance taxes go up?  
A:
At this time, no further guidance has been issued. Until such time, normal procedures will be followed. In general, the contribution rate of an experience-rated employer is based, in part, on the amount of unemployment benefits paid to the employer's former employees.

Potential Closure or Layoff
Rapid Response Services are available to employers who are planning or have gone through a permanent closure or mass layoff at a plant, facility, or enterprise, or a natural or other disasters, that results in mass job dislocation. The State Dislocated Worker Unit coordinates with employers to provide on-site information to workers and employers about employment and retraining services designed to help participants retain employment when feasible, or obtain re-employment as soon as possible. For more information, visit Rapid Response Services for Businesses or contact your local Illinois workNet Center.

Please, visit the Illinois Department of Employment Security’s FAQs page for more information.

Chicago Laborers' Training Fund Classes

Q: Is the Training Center Holding Classes?
A:
In the interest of the health and safety of our members, the Trustees have decided to temporarily suspend classes at the Training Fund until further notice. Any members that were assigned to attend a class have been notified and will be rescheduled as soon as classes resume. If you have any questions or would like to speak to administration, please feel free to contact the Training Fund at 630.653.0006.

Q: I'm an essential worker, where can I get child care for my children when I'm working? NEW! 3/25/2020
A: Child care centers were ordered closed under the Stay at Home Executive Order, but in order to address the child care needs of essential workers the Governor’s office developed a COVID-19: Emergency Child Care for Communities & Providers webpage to connect parents & providers with information: https://www2.illinois.gov/sites/OECD/Pages/For-Communities.aspx

A dedicated helpline has been created so Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (CCR&Rs) can help connect essential workers to emergency child care. Call toll-free (888) 228-1146. 

For residents in Cook County: Text: 312-736-7390 Monday through Friday between 8:30 AM-5:00 PM. Priority will be given to first responders, health care workers, and essential workers to help them find and pay for child care.

Disclaimer
All content provided on this page is for informational purposes only. The Laborers’ District Council makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this page or found by following any link on this page. Any action you take upon the information on this website is strictly at your own risk, and the Laborers’ District Council will not be liable for any losses and damages in connection with the use of this web page.