In these uncertain times, I wanted to reach out to you about the situation around novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Protecting the health and safety of our members and their families is of the utmost importance to us.
Effective Monday March 16th the JATC has suspended all classes for 3 weeks. This action is precautionary and at this time we have no indication of anyone having come to school that is affected by the COVID-19 virus. We recently received word from the UA office that officers and staff at the UA will be working remotely with reduced staff on site. The UA has cancelled a number of meetings and events including the UA Apprentice Completion for 2020. The UA has recommended all locals suspend union meetings, conferences, conventions and apprentice school for the months of March, April and May. At this point in time we are canceling the April meeting and will reassess concerning the May meeting. We will monitor the situation and make a decision on future school cancelations as the time comes.
We have been in contact with our contractors and they are all taking precautions to keep everyone healthy. Remember if you are sick or have any symptoms it is in everyone’s best interest for you to stay home.
In light of the recent developments, I would encourage you to add the following link to your web browser’s bookmarks: www.cpwr.com/covid-19. You will find additional links with more information on COVID-19 from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), OSHA and NIOSH. The CDC recommends some everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases including influenza and COVID-19.
Lastly I wanted to make everyone aware that the Governor has signed an emergency order to allow anyone who has to miss work either through a layoff, COVID-19 quarantine or to care for a sick family member the ability to collect unemployment. The order also waives the waiting week for wages. The employment security office is encouraging people to file online or by phone.
e will continue to staff the office, however we ask that you limit your trips to the hall and utilize the on-line dues payment portal, the outside drop box or US mail for dues payments. Receipts will be returned through the mail.
UA Local 131
I wanted to reach out with another Covid-19 update on the Local and UA. The New Hampshire Governor has extended his Emergency Declaration through May 15th. As a result we are canceling the May Union meeting along with the May Retirees meeting and the Local 131 outing at Bear Brook. Although the outing was scheduled for June 6th, with the prospect of continued social distancing and the health and safety of our members and retirees being at risk, it is the prudent thing to do.
The UA as well as the National Building Trades have cancelled events as far out as October, including the Instructor Training at Washtenaw Community College, the UA Apprenticeship Competition, and a Business Manager and Agent Meeting in Washington DC this fall.
As I stated in my last letter, during the May union meeting we were due to hold nominations for a number of positions as well as vote on disbursement of the June 1 increase. We have received guidance from the UA on how to proceed in absence of the May meeting. On March 23, 2020 the General President sent guidance to Business Managers that he has exercised his authority under the UA Constitution, including section 46(f) to make exceptions to the election provisions. The GP has authorized and encouraged Local Unions with June elections to hold nominations as late as July and elections as late as August 2020. Officers elected will serve a term reduced by 2-3 months. In terms of Local 131 this will include the following positons: 1 Executive Board, 2 Finance Board, 1 Plumbers Board, 1 Fitters Board and 2 Scholarship Committee.
We also received guidance on the distribution of the contract increase in the event of cancelled meetings. On March 23, 2020 the General President wrote:
“ I am exercising my authority under Section 46(f) of the UA Constitution to issue the following interpretation of the Business Manager’s authority under Section 103 of the Constitution. Section 103 charges the Business Manager with exercising control and supervision over the daily affairs and business operations of the Local Union and with administering the Local Union’s collective bargaining agreements. See pages 23-24 of the UA Ritual. In view of this authority, the Business Manager may, under the circumstances described above, allocate a collectively-bargained increase on a tentative basis without membership approval, notwithstanding any contrary By-law or other rule of the Local Union.
When membership meetings resume, the tentative allocation made by the Business Manager must be presented to the membership for approval or revision. In making the tentative allocation, the Business Manager should put the employer association on notice that the allocation is tentative and must be approved by the Local Union membership when meetings resume.”
In keeping with the guidance above, I will be informing the Contractor Association that as of June 1, 2020 the scheduled $1.85 increase will be disbursed, for the time being as follows: $0.25 to the Local Pension the remaining $1.60 will be added to wages. At our next union meeting we will have a membership vote to approve or reallocate the funds.
The office has sent out a number of emails recently regarding meetings, JATC announcements, retiree meetings and other local union news. If you have not received these, please contact us and provide us with your current email address to help us keep you up to date with any Local Union news. We will continue to staff the office daily. If you have any questions or concerns please contact us by phone or email. We ask that members keep visits to the hall to a minimum.
For more information regarding Covid-19 log on to the UA website: www.ua.org and use the Covid-19 resource center link. Keep yourselves and your families safe.
UA Local 131