COVID-19 Notice to Members

April 2, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

 

As we start to realize the current and long-term effects of the Covid-19 virus on our members, our union, our community and our industry,  I want to assure you that the safety and wellness of our members is my greatest concern. Wellness is comprised of many aspects of one’s life; physical, mental, financial and spiritual all of which need to be addressed for true wellness.  We appreciate your patience as we make every effort to operate as normally as possible and explore alternatives for training and meetings.

 

Wellness

First and foremost is your physical wellness.  In today’s ever changing world please adhere to the CDC guidelines (www.cdc.gov) and follow the orders and recommendations of our State and Local Authorities, including practicing social distancing, washing your hands and staying home if you’re sick.  If we are not healthy, other aspects are not as valuable. Please do your best to live a healthy lifestyle during and beyond this pandemic by eating healthy, exercising and utilizing your preventative care benefits. 

 

To ensure our members have the necessary tools for wellness, the Benefit Fund Trustees have made some Plan modifications in response to the Covid-19 crisis.

 

For those members enrolled in SMART Local 71 Healthcare coverage, the changes listed below have been approved and implemented by the Fund Trustees.  More details can be found in the attached notices.

 

Until March 18, 2021….

  • $0 Copay for testing and treatment of Covid-19

Until further notice….

  • Waiver of E-Visit and Telemedicine Copay

    • Teladoc (Teladoc.com/nova)

    • Check with your physician to see if they’re offering this service

  • Access to Medications – In the event there is a known shortage of your medication due to supply chain issues, Prior Authorization for a non-formulary substitute/alternative medication will be waived. The copay for the alternative medication will be the same as the original medication while there is a shortage. 

  • Early Refills will be allowed for a 90-day supply of maintenance medications and a 30-day supply of non-maintenance medications with known shortages. 

As we prepare for the worst and hope for the best, I remind you that you are not in this alone. Your SMART Brothers and Sisters and Our Community are here for you.

 

Stressful times can be difficult to manage and as stressors rise, the uncertainty of our current reality can be overwhelming.  If you find the need to seek help with your mental wellness, do not feel ashamed or afraid to ask for help. SMART’s - Member Assistance Program (MAP) (www.smart-union.org/smart-map/) and SMOHIT – The Sheet Metal Occupational Health Institute Trust (www.smohit.org) both have live, person to person hotlines available 24 hours a day and 7  days a week to help.  I urge you to reach out if you have a need. The SMART Army will be reaching out periodically to check on your wellness.

 

Also, at the forefront of all of our minds, is what the employment environment will look like in the near future and beyond.  With Governor Cuomo’s executive order last week shutting down all non-essential construction for the next four (4) weeks Local 71 saw a spike in unemployment, putting everyone’s financial wellness is at risk.  As we navigate through the different financial assistance and benefits available to workers who have lost employment because of Covid-19, we will keep you updated as the details of these programs continue to evolve and become more clear.

 

Currently, the following are the most notable changes and enhancements for those who are unemployed.  For a detailed summary, click here.   

  • NY State waived the seven (7) day waiting period for Unemployment https://labor.ny.gov/unemploymentassistance.shtm

  • The Federal Cares Act: Gives workers who have lost their jobs enhanced unemployment benefits including:

    • Additional $600/week until 7/31/2020

    • Additional thirteen (13) weeks of UI benefits

  • Families First Coronavirus Response Act:Requires certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave or expanded FMLA for reasons due to Covid-19.Details can be found on DOL’s website. https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-employer-paid-leave

    • Effective April 1st, 2020

SMART Local 71 Union and Benefit Office

To protect our office staff and our members, until further notice, the Union Hall and Training Facility will remain closed while our staff works remotely.  Please continue to contact the Union Hall with any issues or questions by calling the regular office number or by email.  I can be reached directly at (716) 310-7018 or pcrist@smartlocal71.com.  Contact information for the office is listed below.

 

Website:  www.smartlocal71.com

Phone:  (716) 835-8836

Fax:  (716) 835-8496

E-Mail:  info@smartlocal71.com

 

Moving forward, I strongly encourage you to manage any Union or Funds business electronically or over the phone whenever possible.  We have waived all fees for credit card payments until further notice to assist those who must make payments over the phone.

 

Training

All training classes and activities are also suspended until further notice including the Training Incentive Program.  However, in an effort to keep our members safe and up to date on their OSHA Training, the JATC has approved reimbursing Local 71 building trades members the cost of the online training when completing the online OSHA 10 or 30-hour classes through SMOHIT and 360 online training. (http://dev.smohit.org/services/osha-training/)  Please contact the office to find out how to be reimbursed. 

 

Union Meeting

Our April Special Called Funds Allocation Meeting is also postponed.  We will continue to reevaluate the situation and reschedule when we are able to safely hold a meeting. In the meantime, we are investigating possible alternative options for a Fund allocation vote including electronic voting.  More information will be sent when available. 

 

My Thoughts

Being Local 71’s Business Manager is an honor and a privilege, and I am proud to hold the position. When I opened the office on March 2nd, Covid-19 was not on my mind.  Since then our Union and our members’ well-being have not left my mind. Although my first month as your Business Manager has been full of uncertainty, chaos and has quite frankly been very different than I anticipated,  I assure you that I remain true to my obligation and commitment to look out for the best interests of our members and our Union. Although I anticipate there will be tough issues to be solved and difficult decisions to be made as this pandemic progresses, and when it’s over, Local 71 will always make those decisions with our members’ best interests at heart.

 

Please check our website (www.smartlocal71.com) for continuous updates on various issues facing our membership and ways to get involved as we navigate the next steps to normalcy after COVID-19.

 

As we go on one day at time we ask, what can we do today?  Today our most important priority is to maintain the Safety, Health and Wellness of our members and their loved ones. Please do your best to remain healthy, do your part to halt the spread of the virus and most importantly, do good for your community.  

 

Find spiritual wellness in knowing you are part of something bigger than any individual.  You are part of an International Association that came together well over a century ago from all across North America to protect and advance the interests of workers engaged in the Sheet Metal Trade, Our Trade.  Over those 100+ years our members have endured hardship, always helped each other and fought to protect and advance our trade and our membership.

 

I look forward to standing shoulder-to-shoulder as we get through this together and do our part to take care of each other and help out in our community; Be Safe, help someone when you can and we will be stronger in the long run from it.

 

I would like to close by congratulating our newly elected SMART Local 71 Officers: President, Bob Lengen; Business Agent, Tim Benes; Executive Board Member, Jack Dafgard and Warden, Jack Jordan on their recent elections.  Thank you for your commitment and dedication to our Union.  Our members have elected us to lead and that is our mission.  

 

BE SAFE … BE SMART!!

 

In Solidarity,

 

 

Paul Crist

Business Manager

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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