Ericksen calls for fair treatment for construction industry amid COVID-19 crisis

If private construction is halted, government construction should be too, Ericksen says

To see Sen. Ericksen’s letter, click here.

  • Governor’s order halts private construction, allows public projects to continue
  • Sends message that government is putting itself first, undermines public goodwill
  • Decisions should be based on medical necessity, Ericksen says

OLYMPIA – A letter from Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, asks Gov. Jay Inslee to reconsider a decision that will idle thousands of workers across the state on private construction projects – but will allow government construction projects to continue.

The restrictions, announced Tuesday as a clarification to the governor’s stay-at-home order, declare private residential and commercial construction to be a nonessential activity. But while workers on those projects are sent home to prevent possible exposure to coronavirus, the governor’s order allows those employed on government-financed projects to stay on the job. Inslee’s order exempts construction “to further a public purpose related to a public entity,” including publicly financed low-income housing.

“To place public construction projects ahead of private construction is inequitable,” Ericksen writes. “It sends the wrong message to our citizenry that government is putting itself ahead of everyone else.”

In his letter, Ericksen notes that the virus makes no distinction between workers on public projects and those employed in private residential and commercial construction. “If the shutdown of private construction is a medical necessity, then governmental construction should be halted as well,” he writes.

Ericksen is urging the governor to alter his order and allow private construction to proceed. If construction workers on public projects can find a way to work and maintain social distancing, workers can do the same on commercial and residential construction.  Ericksen argues either all projects can be accomplished safely or all should be shut down.

“All construction must be treated the same,” Ericksen says. He urges that the governor’s office base decisions on medical necessity alone. “We should put the health of the populace first, and the needs of government second, and treat everyone equally under the law.”