Temporary Book Signing Policy

In an effort to help stop the spread of COVID and help to keep the office staff safe, IBEW Local 343 office will be closed. We will not be allowing book signing and re-sign in person. Book signing will temporarily be done by email. Re-signs will be done on-line, fax or mail, not in person. New book signing directions and forms will be located in the pickup box by the front door. Resign forms can be found there as well. Once filled out, place them in the dropbox. The new book signing rules can be found in the link below. All daily activities will continue as usual.

If you have any questions feel free to call anytime.

Temporary Book Signing Policy

We have gotten in some IBEW Union made facemasks and are for sale at the hall. The lightweight ones are $4, and the heavier weight ones are $9. We have also gotten some Proud Union Home signs that are available for free. Please call the hall before coming out to schedule a time to stop by.

Minnesota Unemployment update

Minnesota is now approved by the federal government to participate in the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program. LWA is a short-term emergency program. It will provide an additional $300 per week to most unemployed UI applicants due to COVID-19. States have the option to provide an additional $100/week benefit from their own Coronavirus Relief Fund. Minnesota has already allocated Coronavirus Relief Funds to critical public health initiatives and other measures to fight the pandemic.

To receive the LWA, you must be eligible for unemployment benefits for that week. Your weekly benefit amount for unemployment benefits must be at least $100, and you must be unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The additional $300 per week will not show on the “Payment Information” screen of your online unemployment account. The payment will be deposited to the bank account or debit card they have on file. If you use direct deposit, the additional $300 per week will show up as a separate transaction. If you are eligible for multiple weeks of the extra $300 per week, you will receive the amount in a lump sum.

Applicants don’t have to do anything extra to receive LWA payments. Just cotinine applying, they will review all the payment requests made for the week of July 26th going forward and automatically pay applicants eligible for LWA. The additional $300 per week benefit will be available until all federal funds are exhausted or until Congress passes a replacement program. Based on current projections, they expect that LWA payments will end in all states by the middle of September.

If you have any questions about anything, please reach out to me by phone (507)577-1109 or email justinp@ibewlocal343.org

Executive Orders

President Trump signed several executive orders on Saturday. Workers earning less than $2,000 pre-tax dollars a week will have Social Security and Medicare taxes suspended. This will amount to 7.65% of your wages and will be in effect from September 1 – December 31, 2020. The president’s order also directs the Secretary of the Treasury to explore different avenues to eliminate the obligation to pay the suspended taxes, if nothing is agreed to the taxes will need to be paid back in full.


Another order may provide as much as $400 in enhanced unemployment benefits. For this to happen, each state must agree to enter a financial arrangement with the federal government for any unemployed person living there to receive additional benefits. The federal government would require states to pay for 25% (or $100) of the $400 each person may be able to receive weekly in additional aid. This benefit may not go into effect right away in Minnesota because an entirely new system to deliver the aid money would need to be established, which could take months.


Trump asked to renew the eviction moratorium what was in the CARES Act, to keep struggling Americans in their homes that initially expired on July 24, 2020, it would be extended until the end of the year. The last executive order relates to student loans held by the Department of Education and calls for the “temporary stop of payments and the waiver of all interest on student loans until December 31, 2020.”


Ultimately, the orders only come into effect once enforced. With democrats and Republicans still in negotiations, things could change quickly. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out by email justinp@ibewlocal343.org or phone 507-577-1109.

Yard Signs

If any of our members are looking for signs for this year’s election, large ones or standard size, and need help getting a hold of one, please reach out, and I can help locate one for you by email JustinP@ibewlocal343.org or phone 507-577-1109

Absentee Voting


Let’s address all this talk about absentee voting. We have been hearing conflicting information about the legitimacy of mail-in voting. Is it safe? Will your vote get counted? Is it fraught with fraud? Well, consider this – in the state of Minnesota absentee voting is a well-established process that we have had in place for years with no significant problems. Additionally, for many years absentee voting has allowed our veterans overseas to vote in elections in their home states. It has also been available and utilized by people having to be away from home, working or vacationing, in another state at the time of an election, and finally some jurisdictions in Minnesota hold elections by mail only instead of voting at polling places for some time now. Bottom line, it’s nothing new. In fact, it’s what you’d call a “tried and true” method of voting. If you fill out the request form online or by mail, you’ll receive an absentee ballot. Follow the directions on the ballot and then mail it in. Simple. Do that, and your vote will count.

There are many benefits to doing absentee voting. One of the significant advantages is that it removes you from most DFL or GOP ‘door knock’ and phone lists. It also means you won’t have to worry about where you will be working the day of the election. It can be a hassle having to drive back to your local polling place to vote, with mail-in voting you won’t have that worry. With COVID-19 concerns still prevalent, it is also potentially safer to vote by mail, than to stand in line at a polling place.

Interestingly, absentee voting also allows you to change your mind before October 23rd. If you’ve voted by mail before that date, you can request your ballot be destroyed and you can still go vote in person on the day of the election. If you’re still undecided before then, you can also hold on to the ballot until November 2nd

During a time of much uncertainty and enhanced safety concerns, it is good to know you have options to make your vote count. If you have any questions or need help with anything, please reach out to me by email – justinp@ibewlocal343.org or call 507-577-1109.

Absentee Ballots

With the state primary coming up on August 11, it is not too late to apply for an absentee ballot by mail. It’s a straightforward online form that you can fill out to have one sent to you https://mnvotes.sos.state.mn.us/ABRegistration/ABRegistrationStep1.aspx when you receive the ballot it must be completed and postmarked no later than August 11 to valid. At the same time, you can also request the general election ballot where the same rules apply, which will come later. If you need any help filling out the form or have any question, please reach out to me by email justinp@ibewlocal343.org or by calling me at (507)577-1109


The IBEW International office is wanting to know if any of our members are Delegates to the Democratic National Convention coming up August 17 through August 20 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. If you are, please reach out to me by email Justinp@ibewlocal343.org or call (507)577-1109, and I can relay the info to the International.

Political Signs

For anyone interested in a Dan Feehan yard signs small 18 “x24” and medium 2’x4′ please fill out this form dan4mn.us/lawnsigns they will coordinate the drop-off to you. If you’re interested in a larger sign, you can reach out to me, and I can put you on the list for an order. Also, we have received more Joe Biden IBEW signs at the hall, and you can call the hall and request a sign to be picked up. If you’re looking for any other signs, please reach out to me, and I can get you more info. (507)577-1109

Riverland Construction Electrician Lab Assistant

Riverland Community College is looking to hire a part-time seasonal position for a Laboratory Assistant for the Electrician Construction program in Albert Lea. All the information can be found on the link below.

Riverland Electrical Vacancy Posting July 6, 2020