- California construction trade association United Contractors last week launched "Roll Up Your Sleeves" — an informational campaign designed to promote COVID-19 vaccination across the construction industry.
- The campaign began in response to reports indicating construction has one of the lowest rates of workers willing to be vaccinated in the U.S. Research published in February indicated just 53% of construction workers would be willing to get vaccinated, numbers that are in line with a recent Construction Dive survey on the topic.
- The group, which represents union-signatory contractors, created a website to provide contractors, workers and field leaders resources to help combat misinformation surrounding the vaccine and to encourage individuals to get vaccinated when they are eligible.
The idea to spread accurate information about the vaccine arose when the industry's wariness caught United Contractors' attention, and, when it looked for resources to share among its members, it was dissatisfied.
"There was just nothing," said Emily Cohen, executive vice president at United Contractors. "There's nothing out there specifically for the construction industry."
Cohen said with the wide array of vaccine-related information — some of it false — coming from social media, the association wanted to empower workers, contractors and unions with the facts. Resources gathered by United Contractors include tailgate talking points with vaccine facts designed to assuage concerns about the shots; resources from authorities like the Mayo Clinic; and sample letters to employees about the vaccine, indicating that company executives have been vaccinated.
"Walking the walk is the really important part of this too," Cohen said. "They want to see that their boss and their boss's boss are getting vaccinated. That helps build trust."
Major contracting groups have begun initiatives to help contractors vaccinate workers — although they mostly focus on helping employers develop policies. During a webinar hosted by the Associated General Contractors of America, attorneys said that employers can require vaccines for jobsite workers. Nevertheless, the survey of Construction Dive readers found 93% of employers are not offering incentives or bonuses for the vaccines, although they are encouraging it.
Attorneys during AGC's webinar provided suggestions for the best way to ensure workers get vaccinated, such as administering the vaccines on jobsites during the workday. Additionally, AGC is organizing a vaccine awareness week for the industry during the week of April 19, according to Brian Turmail, vice president of public affairs and strategic initiatives at AGC.
In the Construction Dive poll, 46% of unvaccinated respondents said they would not get the vaccine, with most saying it was unnecessary (36%) or raised health concerns (33%). Those are fears United Contractors is seeking to address, and Cohen said they're depending on construction's safety-first focus.
"We know safety. We know what it means to have to come together to accomplish things and come together to overcome challenges," Cohen said. "The vaccine is a critical safety tool to working safely and getting back to normal."
This article has been updated to clarify the mission of United Contractors.