As we mentioned before, the General Membership meeting for June 8th is canceled, largely because our floor in 195 Montague Street continues to be closed by our landlord.
However, the Executive Board and staff are providing the following update so that the members can stay abreast of developments in the Local since our last meeting in March.
Nowhere in the world got hit harder by the virus than New York City, and our Local Union was deeply affected. Many of our members got the virus, and at least one passed away as a result. We lost Claudio Malave, who was a good Union man and will be missed by all of us.
The shutdown instituted by the City to try to control the spread of the virus caused almost the entire local to be laid off or work reduced hours. The auction houses shut down, the race tracks stopped running, and the moving companies were down to skeleton crews.
To try to help our members endure these layoffs, the Local 814 Executive Board made several changes to our Funds and policies to help out in these tough times.
Annuity Fund Changes
Congress passed legislation giving trustees of Annuity and 401(k) plans the option to make changes to help their members. After the laws passed, Trustees Walter Taylor and Jason Ide immediately lowered the interest rate on Annuity Loans from 8.4% to 1.25%.
Additional legislation allowed Ide and Taylor to go further, and extend loan payments by one year. Members affected by COVID were also allowed to take larger loans than usual. And perhaps most importantly, members who had previously defaulted on loans and were economically impacted by COVID were allowed to take distributions and avoid paying penalties. Though making these changes were complicated, Ide and Taylor and the Employer Trustees worked tirelessly with the Fund attorneys to get them across the finish line to help the membership.
The Local’s Executive Board voted to not suspend members in the IDS for April or May for non-payment of dues. Also, with permission of the International Union, the Local will be closing members books and doing some dues waivers to help members who did not work at all in April or May as a result of COVID-19.
Business Agent Report (Walter Taylor)
Though he was furloughed for much of April and May, that did not stop Walter Taylor from fighting for the members. Taylor fought the termination of a warehouseman at Certified Moving and Storage, and filed the case for arbitration. He also forced Clancy Cullen to reinstate four employees who were fired for not being available for work because of COVID-19.
Taylor visited job sites, including the Conrad Hotel, and passed out masks to members who did not have any to wear on the site. He participated in weekly meetings of the various Building Trades councils, helping plan the Trades response to COVID. Taylor also filed a grievance at Executive Trim, forcing them to add four new members to their seniority list, including shop steward Barrington Anderson.
President Ide, who was also laid off several days a week during April and May, had a very busy three months. Ide negotiated agreements with Sotheby’s, Central and Globe that ensured that all of their seniority list members would keep their medical despite COVID layoffs. Ide also got a van driver on worker’s comp. at NYRA to keep his medical benefits by filing a grievance.
In April, President Ide reached out to NYCOSH and had them develop a safety plan for movers to return to work while minimizing the risks of contracting the virus, then circulated that memo to the companies.
As a benefit fund Trustee, Ide also participated in discussion with the Welfare (Northern NJ), Pension and Annuity Fund Boards, helping to ensure that the Funds could continue to operate during COVID while still keeping the staff safe.
Ide also spent a good deal of time answering the phone while office manager Emilia Hart was laid off.
Emilia Hart has returned to working full time. Although the office is still closed to walk-ins, members can reach Emilia by calling 718-609-6407.
That’s it for our June Membership meeting report. We will continue to update you with text messages and posts to this site, and we hope to see you at the meeting in September.