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We are saddened and troubled Posted by on

We are saddened and troubled by the recent events in Minnesota, Georgia and Kentucky. They demonstrate the gap that remains between the promise of America and the reality facing too many Americans.

We applaud and support the tens of thousands who have come out to participate in peaceful rallies and the law enforcement officers who have responded professionally in kind.

Violence from opportunists or overzealous police, however, must be clearly and directly condemned. Not only does it extend the damage to our country, it generates finger-pointing and excuses for people to avoid getting to the root of our problems.

Over the years, the Carpenters union has had to confront our own difficult past, when people of color were discouraged from joining or actively excluded from our ranks. While we have made significant progress, we recognize that there remains more work to be done.

Confronting injustice--be it racial, economic or gender-based injustice--is complex and uncomfortable. But the issues are too serious and too widespread to ignore simply because they are difficult.

The North Atlantic States Carpenters union is renewing our commitment to do our part through self-examination, outreach and discussion with impacted communities. We hope that by doing so, we will expand opportunities and advance equity to people who still may not consider our trade or organization a viable option for themselves.

We also hope our union and our members will take an active and positive role in our communities on a wider discussion of racial injustice.




​New York elections during the pandemic Posted by on

School Board and Budget elections: Proceeding, as scheduled, on June 9. All registered voters will be emailed an invite to vote, including postage.

Presidential primary: Courts currently ruling primary to be held on June 23.

ALL other state primaries and special elections: Proceeding, as schedule, on June 23. (more information below)

Village and Town elections: Proceeding, as scheduled, on September 15.

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Details on state primaries and special elections:

Every registered voter in New York is being mailed an application to vote by absentee ballot. The application comes with a return, postage-paid envelope. Voters must fill out, sign and mail the ballot back to their local board of elections by June 22. Absentee ballots can also be requested here.

• Make sure you are registered to vote at your current address. You can confirm your voter status here.

• You should receive your ballot no less than 32 days before the election. Once it’s filled out, you must mail it back by the day before Election Day (Monday, June 22nd). For your ballot to count, the Board of Elections must receive it no later than 7 days after the election on June 23rd.

You can vote early in person, from June 13-21st at locations determined by the county boards of election, OR at your polling place on June 23rd.

Endorsements by local unions in June 23 elections:
Local 276: NY-27 Chris Jacobs (R)

Local 277: AD-138 Harry Bronson (D)

Local 279: NY-17 David Carlucci (D) and Anthony Scarpino for Westchester Co. DA (D)




Stamp system/e-receipts being discontinued in RI, CT next week Posted by on

As a reminder: effective May 4th, members working under agreements in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine will no longer be receiving paper or e-stamps as receipts for hours paid on their behalf to the Benefit Funds. Members will be able to verify hours paid, both current and historical, using the Funds’ "Member Self-Service Site." This is a system that has been in place for members in Massachusetts and Northern New England for a number of years. It is now available to members in Rhode Island and Connecticut and will continue to be enhanced to allow future access to additional information including account balances for members.




A summary of info for the week starting April 13 Posted by on

Info included on:

Mass Carpenters Ceasing Work
Unemployment
Stimulus
Taxes
Union Meetings
Health Care
General Help


Mass Carpenters Ceasing Work

Last week, carpenters stopped working on sites in Massachusetts due to abnormally dangerous conditions and will not return to work until it is safe to do so. This is NOT a strike, but a step taken in accordance with provisions in the Labor Management Relations Act. Members who have stopped working in Massachusetts can collect unemployment benefits.

There have been many questions about why this was done in Massachusetts and why not in other states in our council. There were several factors that came into play, including the availability of PPE, the density of sites, ability of contractors to maintain safe sites and the number of infections and deaths in Massachusetts and communities where members had been working.

This was not an easy decision and it was not made lightly. Throughout this crisis, the union has continued to work with our signatory contractor partners to develop plans to keep sites as safe and clean as possible so that when the time is right to return, you will be sufficiently protected.

Unemployment

The $600 increase to unemployment benefits funded by the CARES Act has started to show up for members in some states in our council. The increase was not immediate because the federal government had to clarify guidelines for states to participate and then states had to opt in. Still, the two-week turnaround from passing the bill to actual account deposits has been welcome efficiency.

The $600/weekly increase in benefits will be in place for about four months before returning to regular schedules.

The trouble for some members continues to be getting unemployment claims processed so they can start receiving benefits. The state of New York scheduled a two-hour shutdown of their system last week to install upgrades that will help it handle the unprecedented demand it is facing. Other states are struggling to upgrade on the fly or clear out a backlog in processing by hiring scores of new workers.

Massachusetts has announced that it will soon deploy an online unemployment system in Spanish. On Friday it launched a Spanish version of its COVID19 text alert system.

Stimulus checks

Massachusetts Congressman Richie Neal, the Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, has said the direct stimulus checks of up to $1,200 per individual will start to be processed and sent early this week. Estimates on how long it will take for all of the more than 60 million checks to be sent are probably unreliable at this point. The IRS will use direct deposit information submitted with recent tax returns to deposit checks where possible and mail checks to others. The amount of an individual's stimulus payment will be determined by their adjusted gross income for tax years 2018 or 2019. It will include up to $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for couples, with $500 increases for children. Stimulus amounts will decrease and phase out at certain incomes.

TAXES

Members should remember that unemployment benefits and stimulus money are considered income and are taxable. Be sure to plan for this to avoid trouble when filing your next return.

Union meetings

All union meetings for the month of April have been cancelled. If your local union was scheduled to have elections or votes for contract allocations, please check in to see how and when those issues will be handled.

Health Care

A legitimate concern for many members out of work is the continuation of health care benefits for themselves and their families. Rules vary from plan to plan, but often there are ways that members that do not earn the full requirement of work hours in a period to qualify for coverage may still get coverage. It may include purchasing hours or combining the number of hours from two consecutive qualifying periods to meet a stipulated threshold. It is important for members to read plan summaries and contact their fund office to see which provisions exist in their plans and how they apply to their individual situations.

The UBC is currently working with a coalition in Washington on potential remedies that could help members receive health coverage through our funds. The Alliance for Health Care has identified four priorities, which they are presenting to Congress:

1. Aid for Americans who have lost their jobs or been placed on furlough by covering the cost of continuing their health coverage through the crisis

2. Support for financially struggling employers and health funds offering critical health coverage

3. Enhance availability and affordability of coverage in the individual market for Americans seeking coverage through Medicaid and the Federal or state-based Marketplaces

4. Promote policies that support our health care workers on the front-line of this crisis

We will share information about any progress or success from the effort as it is available.

General Help

If you need help connecting with available services--public or union--please reach out to your local union. Staff are responding to calls, email and social media and have been able to help members with many common problems. Though they may also be able to help you understand basic provisions of benefit funds, members are encouraged to contact their funds directly to learn how plan benefits and rules may apply to their individual situation.

Finally, if you are struggling with substance abuse, anxiety or fear, please use confidential support services available through the union.

Members in New York can call Magellan/Independence Administrators at 800-688-1911. Members in MA, CT, RI, ME, NH & VT should contact Paul Greeley or Jeff Smith from the Carpenters Assistance Program at 617-782-0100 or visit KGA online 24/7 at https://my.kgalifeservices.com/o/carpenters




Flynn moving to UBC Byrne to lead NAS Posted by on

Thomas J. Flynn, the Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters has been appointed General Secretary-Treasurer of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, following the retirement of Michael Capelli. UBC General President Douglas McCarron made the announcement in a memo to the UBC General Executive Board and regional council Executive Secretary-Treasurers, with both Capelli’s retirement and Flynn’s appointment effective immediately.

Following the move, Rich Monarca, President of NASRCC appointed Joseph Byrne as the Executive Secretary-Treasurer Pro Tem. Byrne had been serving as the Business Manager for Carpenters Local 327 and Regional Manager for the Boston carpenter local unions.

Byrne has appointed Richard Pedi to serve as Regional Manager for the Boston carpenters local unions and Rile Rhodes as the Business Manager for Local 327.

Byrne has also named Bill Banfield as the Assistant to the Executive Secretary-Treasurer for NASRCC, overseeing the local unions in New York.




Carpenters to stop working in Massachusetts Posted by on

Executive Secretary-Treasurer Tom Flynn notified employer partners that he is directing union carpenters to cease working in Massachusetts effective April 6, 2020 until it is safe to do so because "it has become apparent that working on construction sites in Massachusetts is abnormally dangerous and that continuing to work on construction sites poses an immediate threat of harm to the health and safety of my members and the public."




NAS joins call for Gov to shut down construction in Mass Posted by on

The North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters joined other members of the Massachusetts Building Trades Council in voting yesterday to call on Governor Charles Baker to suspend all non-emergency construction in the state.

https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/03/31/business/ci...

Though the union had fought to keep construction sites open and safe during the early stages of the current pandemic, it became increasingly clear that safe site protocols either could not or were not being implemented consistently.

An increasing number of union members have stopped working due either to the direct impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on themselves or their family or because they were concerned with spreading the virus through construction site contamination. Some general contractors and subcontractors had also suspended operations in the last few weeks.

Staff from NASRCC have witnessed a dangerous lack of response from "leaders" in the nonunion sector of the industry. On sites in Lynn, Chelsea, Bridgewater, Brookline and Revere a host of troubling practices--including vanloads of workers unloading at sites and clusters of people working and taking breaks shoulder-to-shoulder--have been witnessed and recorded. Contractors responsible for the sites include Dellbrook, Callahan, P&B Partitions and Ray-Con.

Building Trades Councils in Maine and New Hampshire are considering similar measures to call for action by their governors, while the Rhode Island Building Trades issued a response asking Governor Gina Raimondo to maintain construction as an essential industry.

Governor Baker and others in the region, had initially ordered stay-at-home orders but listed construction as an essential industry. But last week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo tightened the restrictions on the construction industry, allowing only emergency or response-supporting projects to continue. He did so with the support of the building trades in the state.

Last week, Vermont became the last state in the region to issue a stay-at-home order and listed only emergency construction and construction projects directly related to COVID-19 response efforts to continue.




NE Annuity Announces Bonus Posted by on

In a month that can only generously be called "unique," there is good news from the New England Carpenters Guaranteed Annuity Fund this week, which announced its annual return and a bonus for participants.

“The North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters is pleased to announce that the Board of Trustees of the New England Carpenters Guaranteed Annuity Fund has approved a bonus to all participants with an account balance in 2019 of 3.09%.

"In addition, participants with accounts in the New England Carpenters Guaranteed Annuity Fund were already credited with the guaranteed return of 3.41% for a total of 6.50%. Accounts will be credited with the bonus in the coming weeks and viewable in the online self-service portal. Participants will also receive their annual Guaranteed Annuity Fund statement in May reflecting the bonus amounts.”




Coronavirus Updates Posted by on

The North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters has created nasrcc.org/corona as a resource for members and contractors for information related to the ongoing public health crisis and the union's response. It will be regularly updated and link to state-by-state government resources.




​US DOL Nixes IRAPS in Construction Posted by on

The construction industry is being exempted from new rules established by the United States Department of Labor that allow Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Programs. "IRAPs" are informal programs with reduced regulation that may receive funding from the federal government. The exemption for the construction industry is the result of efforts by unions and members to educate the Trump administration about existing apprenticeship programs in the industry that are privately funded and have a history of providing sufficient and successful training.

UBC General President Doug McCarron began making the case after being appointed to serve on the President's Task Force on Apprenticeship, which ultimately suggested IRAPs. During the comment period before new rules were published, regional councils and members of the UBC sent letters to the Department of Labor and urged elected officials to weigh in on behalf of a construction exemption.

Anti-union groups had lobbied to allow IRAPs in construction so they could access government funding and claim credibility for programs that aren’t serious efforts to train trades workers. They are expected to file suit over the exemption.




Cuomo Executive Budget Released Posted by on

This past week, Governor Cuomo officially presented his Executive Budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Over the next several weeks, the Governor will work with the Senate and the Assembly try to reach agreement on a final budget by the annual April 1 deadline. There are a number of items within the budget that are relevant to our members and while there’s a lot of work to be done before it’s finalized, we wanted to keep you updated on where things stand.

The Governor’s budget proposal includes potential developments on a prevailing wage expansion. Specifically, the Governor’s plan would combine every type of state and local subsidy – including grants, tax credits and IDA financial assistance – and if the total public funds amount to 30 percent of a project’s construction costs, the prevailing wage would be triggered.

There will be a lot of discussions and debate before any of this is finalized, but this is a promising start to the legislative year. As always, we’ll be following all of these developments very closely, and we will keep you informed as we move forward.




NY Gov Cuomo delivers State of the State Posted by on

Earlier this week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo delivered his State of the State Address. This annual speech lays out the Governor’s priorities for the year and provides a framework for the issues that will be debated in Albany over the next several months. Our members were on hand and out in force, and were acknowledged in the Governor’s opening remarks along with our partners in the labor movement.

The Governor’s 2020 agenda, Making Progress Happen, includes a number of ambitious economic development projects that should deliver opportunities for our members. Some of the big ticket items include:

• $14 million to build a new mid-station lodge at Whiteface
• $9.4 million to upgrade Lake George Wastewater Treatment Plant
• Second Round of funding for Upstate Airport Revitalization (first round was $200 million)
• $10 million to help transform Buffalo’s North Aud Block
• $9 million to help build a year-round indoor drone research facility in Rome, NY
• A comprehensive education and workforce STEM training center in Syracuse
• Incentivizing businesses to move into downtown Rochester through the use of ESD Grant and Excelsior Tax Credits
• $100 million in economic development investments to communities along the Erie Canal. Projects include:
o Brockport loop connecting SUNY to Empire State trail land
o Canalside pocket neighborhood to be built in Canastota
o Renovation of Guy Park Manor and construction of a pedestrian bridge in Amsterdam

The next step will be the presentation of the Governor’s Executive Budget later this month, which will start to lay out the details of how the state will pay for all of these ideas. We will be following all of these developments very closely in the days and weeks ahead, and we will keep member in New York informed as we move forward.




We are not done in Albany Posted by on

2019 was an eventful year for the Carpenters union in Albany. Our main legislative focus was to expand the prevailing wage law. Too often, developers participating in “public-private partnerships” have gamed the system and exploited cheap labor with our tax dollars. It hurts union carpenters and reputable contractors—both union and nonunion—who pay good wages to good workers. Our legislation would close that loophole.

The heated debate went to the last days of the legislative session before falling short. We have not given up. Defining prevailing wage will be front and center again this year and we are already laying the groundwork to take it over the finish line in 2020.

In 2019, the North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters (NASRCC) was the driving force behind the creation of the Blue Collar Coalition. The Blue Collar Coalition-NY is made up of our partners in organized labor who are dedicated to making sure that all workers on publicly funded projects are paid a fair wage for a fair day’s work. We are fighting to ensure that workers of every race, color and creed are given a real chance at a middle-class life.

Throughout last year’s legislative session, the Blue Collar Coalition ran digital campaigns across social media and news sites to push the New York State legislature to define public work and pass prevailing wage legislation. If you haven’t already, we invite you to like and follow the Blue Collar Coalition on Facebook and Twitter; and check out our ads on YouTube. You can find more information at www.bluecollarny.com.

We also organized successful events that you may have been a part of, including our Tax Fraud Days of Action; a lobby day rally in West Capitol Park; and a pre-budget deadline rally inside the Capitol. We also saw numerous opinion pieces by our allies that laid out our case for decision makers, including: New York Daily News: Say yes to more prevailing wage: Requiring higher pay for laborers in all public works is good for New York’s middle class; Gotham Gazette: Fair Wages are Good for the Economy, Albany Should Pass an Expanded Prevailing Wage; Amsterdam News: A fair wage for working men and women; and Syracuse Post Standard: Prevailing wage is an investment in Syracuse community.

We have a lot more planned for 2020 and will be in touch in the weeks ahead with updates and ways that you can get involved to make a difference. We want to thank you for all of your work this year and we look forward to a productive legislative session that benefits union carpenters. Best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year.