Last Thanksgiving, Laborers Local 110 Business Agent Mark Bielicke lost his 51-year-old girlfriend Ann Shannon to COVID-19. After learning they had been exposed to someone with the virus, the couple immediately went and got tested. The test results were negative. Two weeks later, they started showing symptoms and both ended up in the emergency room. “With most people, the virus affects the lungs,” Bielicke said in an interview with the Labor Tribune. “But with Ann, it attacked her stomach. Then her oxygen levels tanked, and it resulted in coma and cardiac failure.” The 27-year Local 110 member is sharing his story in hopes of encouraging other building trades members to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

‘IT’S ABOUT US’

“Please get the vaccine,” he says. “Our family members, our coworkers, those in our community – they’re people we are going to help when we get vaccinated. It’s not about I, I or me, me. It’s about us. It takes a village, and we have to do this together.” The video campaign, which can be accessed through VaxFactsSTL.com, was developed on the heels of emerging evidence that the nation’s construction workforce is intensely reluctant about getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

CONSTRUCTION WORKERS MOST HESITANT

According to a new study, construction workers – among all other occupations – are the most hesitant to get vaccinated. In fact, 46.4 percent said they would not likely get the vaccine in a survey. Dr. Ann Marie Dale, a Washington University epidemiologist who works with the CDC concerning workers and COVID, said about 48% of all construction workers are against the shot. Data shows almost one out of two workers classified as “construction/extraction” are vaccine-hesitant and just shy of two out of 10 have been vaccinated. Researchers indicate construction workers are unwilling to get the shot because it’s their culture to work through sickness and pain. And if they get COVID, they figure they’ll work through it. However, they could end up seriously ill or worse.

A GREAT CONCERN

We are seeing evidence of workforce reluctance to get the vaccine on our job sites and it is a great concern,” said Thom Kuhn, CEO of Millstone Weber. “Construction has been designated an essential industry during the pandemic, and we want to continue to maintain healthy job sites and prevent the spread of infection.” “That hesitancy to get the vaccine on the eve of the busy summer construction season with potentially more work on the horizon if planned federal infrastructure investment is approved is extremely concerning.”

Laborers Local 110 Business Agent Mark Bielicke shares the loss of his 51-year-old girlfriend to COVID 19 in hopes of encouraging other building trades members to get the vaccine.

URGENT NEED TO ADDRESS THE WORKFORCE People in the construction industry fear projects across the area could come to a halt if more workers don’t get the COVID-19 vaccine. Many union leaders are urging the workforce to get the vaccine to not only protect themselves but their loved ones, friends, and coworkers. We know the spread of the virus can shut down a work site.

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