STRONGER TOGETHER 6 FEET APART
Elmer Nanquilada, LU 30, Journey level
Local Union, craft, years in the industry?
Local 30 out of Renton. I am a journeyman carpenter and perform work from the ground-up—concrete to finish work. I have been in the union for two years, working construction on and off since high school building houses for my family’s company back in the Philippines.
How has your work been impacted by the pandemic?
Nothing is going on in King and Pierce County with my company – Hoffman Structures. I like to stick with one company to be loyal. The company sends me around where needed. The coronavirus stopped that, so they laid me off. My last job was mid-March, I was bouncing around projects waiting for the Shoreline, Washington Einstein Middle School project. This was when the coronavirus started kicking in.
I’m trying to do my online classes while I’m on standby. I attend Foreman Training each month, and we had the first virtual training last Tuesday, it went well. The class is not just about the class, it’s about getting in touch with your Brothers and Sisters, having a check-in. We had a few minutes to say hello.
Before coronavirus, I finished my OSHA 30, I’m going to proceed with ICRA. I have classes lined up like Total Station. I’m a foreman now, one day I want to become a superintendent. I am using this time to study what I can and train for the future.
How are you and your family?
It’s a little tough. I’m a single parent, four kids, and my mother living with me. My mother helps with child care. She is my back up. This time is tough for one income, car payments, bills, mortgage, unemployment is not paying it. School is out, and I am laid off, so I am taking advantage of this time to be with my kids. Spend some time with them until the industry picks up.
How are you staying connected as we all practice physical distancing?
During the day I help my kids do their work for school, we go on an afternoon walk and ride bikes around the neighborhood. I reach out to friends in the church, attend fellowship on Facetime. Support, in this kind of time, is important. I have reached out to some coworkers. One phone call helps to get you out of a hard cycle.
What are you missing about work?
I miss the regularity of being able to work at a certain time, enjoy my work and the people. Plus, I miss the traffic—I’m not driving right now. I usually leave for work at 4:30 am to be at work at 6 am, and then my North to South commute takes 2.5 to 3 hours. Man, I miss all that!
How have these uncertain times shifted your outlook or approach to work and financial security?
Yeah, it’s one of those times you have to tighten your belt. The budget has shifted 360 degrees. When it’s busy, there are no worries. With total shutdown like now, it’s a financial and emotional hardship. I am hoping that everyone can get back on a regular schedule. I know that I’m not the only one hurting right now. There are Brothers and Sisters going through the same or worse.
What do you look forward to after this is all done?
I get to work to support my family. The better that I do, the better my family is. I represent that. I’m not in it for the competition. I’m a believer, I know that goodness comes after this. I love building, I’m really good with my hands. That’s the blessing, I know that I have something to fall back on. Things will be better.