Hustling During COVID-19

How to Hustle Work During the Era of COVID-19

While some of us have grown weary of the phrase: “uncertain times,” this doesn’t change the fact that the coronavirus has affected how we regularly do things. This How to Hustle Work guide was put together to ensure you know how to successfully find work and do so safely.

Sign Up For Dispatch

By making sure your name is on the out-of-work list (also known as Mix 20/20), you guarantee your place in the queue for upcoming job calls.

While you search elsewhere, Mix 20/20 will work through its list of names until it’s your turn to receive a call. Be sure to check in every two weeks to make sure you stay on the out-of-work list.

Know What’s Happening In Your State

Be sure to brush up on what PPE is mandated in your state and the proper way to wear them. These days, showing up on a job site means more than donning your vest and hard hat. When you arrive on a job site, you should be wearing a mask and following proper social distancing etiquette. 

Safety is more of a priority than ever. By showing that you have the safety of yourself and others as a priority you are showing your team that you can follow guidelines and keep the job site running smoothly.

Have a Plan

Your next step is outlining a game plan. Union Representative, Fidencio Valasco, shares his hustling methods from when he worked in the field.

“Every Friday, I would download the latest dispatch report and plan out my week. On Monday, I’d hit the closest county and work my way out until Wednesday, hitting around 5-6 jobs a day. By Thursday, I would have a smaller list of the jobs that showed the most promise and hit those same jobs again.”

1) Download the latest Dispatch report and the Active Union Job Site list and see what active jobs are happening in your area. 

2) Group the jobs out geographically, breaking out the jobs by county and working through the ones closest to you first.

3) Make note of jobs that have potential and see about hitting them up again.

Find Your Contact

There’s a common saying within the industry, and that’s “If you’re on time, you’re late.” Showing up before the job starts not only means catching the superintendent before work is in full swing, you’ve shown initiative.

Representative Fidencio Valasco shares,

“I’d also find out who I’d be reporting to so I can find work. I’d show up and say, ‘Hi my name is Fidencio. I’m looking for…’ and then give them the name of the person. If they were in a meeting, I told them I would wait.”

Many job sites are doing temperature checks, which creates an opportunity for you to ask who you need to speak with.

Alternatively, you can call the contractor. Some sites are taking additional measures to remain safe and do not want unknown people on their job. In Oregon, representatives have compiled a list of contractors for the Oregon and Southwest Washington areas and their preferred method of contact during state-mandated social distance guidelines.

By calling and asking for the contact by name, you can respect the company’s guidelines to keep workers safe (and save on a little gas while you’re at it).

Leave a Good Impression

Be clear when you speak to the foreman or superintendent about why you’re there. List your rank as either journeyman or apprentice (as well as what term you are) and the work you’re to do. Tell them what certifications you have or, if you’re an apprentice, what work you’re looking to gain more experience in. 

Remember to be polite. If they direct you to a signup sheet, write your name and contact information clearly. We recommend bringing your own pen, too, just to be safe. Since running water might not be a thing where you’re at, bring some hand sanitizer you can keep in your pocket to keep your hands clean. Once you’re done, move onto the next site on your list.

Union Meetings Are a Way to Network

While we are still adapting to how social distancing affects our monthly union meetings, it’s still important to attend in order to stay connected. Many have switched to online meetings and can be easily accessed by calling or emailing your local for a link.

At meetings, representatives give reports on upcoming work and answer questions. Local meetings are a great chance to network with other carpenters, learn about upcoming work, and stay informed about what’s happening in your area.

Want more tips on how to hustle?
Read our How To Hustle Part 1 & Part 2.

Did You Know?

PNWRCC offers scholarships for your kids.

The Northwest Carpenters’ Union values education, and offers both our members and their families access to the high quality college education that working members of the Northwest’s middle class deserve. Apply Now


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