Remember to call the fund office for specific information

Because of the ongoing public health situation, effective Wednesday morning, all offices of the North Atlantic States Regional Council, affiliated local unions and benefit fund offices will be closed to walk-in service. Staff will be working remotely and available by phone, email, social media or other channels. Members are asked to pay dues online or by mail.


ALL training and events at training centers are closed for at least the next two weeks.


ALL monthly union meetings have been cancelled until further notice. "Special call" meetings scheduled this month to nominate and elect delegates to the UBC national convention will be rescheduled. It is anticipated that the UBC will modify rules for nomination and election of delegates because of the unique circumstances.


The regional council delegate meeting in March has been cancelled. The next regularly scheduled meeting in June will be held at our training center in Millbury, MA.


The New England Carpenters Health Fund will be waiving the co-pay for coronavirus testing.


Please remember that things are changing rapidly and there is a lot of information being circulated on a number of topics right now. Be wary of rumors, honest mistakes or misinformation. Seek reliable and multiple sources to confirm what you are hearing. Understand that while we are able to share general information, your situation may include unique circumstances which change how something applies to you.


Federal government response for workers

The United States House of Representatives passed a bill over the weekend that has the support of the President and is expected to be passed by the Senate. It may fund extended benefits at the state level for unemployment insurance, paid sick-time and medical leaves. Details will be shared as they become available, but since the bill has not been finalized and passed and there may be exceptions for some businesses, nothing is yet certain.


Responses by state governments

State-by-state information is being gathered by the union and can be accessed at the links below. Most states are expanding eligibility and waiving waiting times for unemployment. Members are encouraged to file for unemployment as soon as they can after a layoff. Members who have not collected should note that benefits will not equal your regular take-home pay and benefits are taxable at the end of the year as income.


In most states, members can access general information about health and community services by dialing 2-1-1.


To access information from your state, click on the link below.

Connecticut

Safe Workplace Rules for Essential Employers

Guidelines for essential employees 

  • Employees who are ill should stay home.

  • Where possible, employees should take their temperature before they go to work. If they have a temperature above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, they should stay home.

  • Make hand sanitizer available to employees who do not have ready access to soap and water.

  • Place posters that encourage hand hygiene to help stop the spread at the entrance to your workplace and in other workplace areas where they are likely to be seen.

  • Whether at work or at home, all employees are advised to follow the CDC guidelines for preventing transmission of COVID-19 including:

    • Washing hands frequently for at least 20 seconds, avoiding touching mouth and nose, avoiding close contact with others, cleaning and disinfecting surfaces, using cough and sneeze etiquette, and  staying at home when sick.

    •  Employees should not touch their face and should use of Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19.

Additional rules specific to construction sites:

  • Clean portable bathrooms no less than every 2 days.

  • Require employees to travel separately to and from, and within, worksites.

  • Reschedule work to maximize the amount of work being performed outdoors, limit indoor or work lacking significant fresh air.

  • Shift work to limit the size of the crews on the jobsite, especially indoors.

  • Rotate lunch and coffee break shifts, requiring workers to follow the CDC social distancing guidelines during meals or breaks.

  • Follow all safety and health protocols when using an elevator.

  • Provide an adequate supply of PPE, including but not limited to masks, gloves, hand sanitizer. 

CT Department of Labor Important Update

re: Unemployment Insurance Program During the Pandemic

Tuesday March 31, 2020

 

The Connecticut Department of Labor is working diligently to serve its residents and appreciates the public’s patience as it works to process the thousands of claims that have been filed the last two weeks. All states are struggling to keep with IT systems are crashing, phone systems are crashing.

  • Typically the agency receives 3,000 new claims a week; in the last two weeks it has received more than 200,000 claims – more than one year’s worth of claims in just over two weeks.

  • Of these claims the agency has processed nearly 80,000 by shifting staff responsibilities, borrowing former DOL staff that have gone to other agencies, and retirees.

  • Currently there is a five-week backlog for processing claims.  Typically, claims processed in less than a week.

  • It will take some time to process all of these claims, but CTDOL is going as fast as it can and all claims will be retroactive to the date you filed.

  • The agency is looking at ways to streamline the usual required process by implementing a fast-track system. If it works, and we hope it will, it will help further automate the system. We’ll get back to you with more information on that.

 

To help speed processing: select the “Temporary Shutdown” option which provides return date of 6 weeks or less. (This will require an employer registration ID number which can be found on the separation packet).   
The DOL offers an online tutorial that walks you through the process.  http://www.ctdol.state.ct.us/UI-OnLine/Guide%20for%20Filing%20CT%20Unemployment%20Claims.pdf 

 

Self-employed individuals and independent contractors should not apply for UI: The CARES Act also allows self-employed individuals and independent contractors to file for UI for the first time ever. However, states have never provided benefits to those who are self-employed, so there is no system in place for those individuals to apply for benefits. CTDOL recommends self-employed individuals and independent contractors do not file for UI benefits until a PUA system is in place. The system will only be further strained by their filing.


In order to program in the new federal UI programs, in addition to its IT staff, CTDOL has called back retirees to help, have BEST and DAS assisting and have a vendor on site – all working round the clock.


CTDOL is managing a 5-part system with a 40-year-old mainframe:

 

  • Attending to daily malfunctions due to heavy traffic

  • Have statewide sister agency IT experts on site with DOL IT experts – working together

  • Have multiple vendors on sits keeping watch of functioning day and night.

  • recruiting COBOL and file.net developers to keep up with the unprecedented # of claims and create new programs for the federal CARES Act initiatives.

 

Helpful information for claimants

 

 

  • CTDOL’s digital filing platform is open online 24/7 – unlike any other state in the nation.

 

In addition to processing thousands of claims, CTDOL is also looking at how to program the three (3) federal stimulus unemployment programs into its 40-year-old COBAL system

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance – PUA (up to 39 weeks – 26 state and 13 federal weeks)

For any individual that previously was not eligible for regular extended benefits, such as self-employed. Also, unemployed individuals who have exhausted regular state benefits.

Individuals must be able and available to work unless they cannot work because of the certain circumstances that relate to COVID-19, including:

  • The individual, household member, or one under their care has been diagnosed

  • A child or other under the individual’s care is unable to attend school or another facility due to closure

  • The individual is unable to reach the place of employment because of an official public quarantine, has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine, their place of employment has been closed

  • The individual was scheduled to start work and the job is no longer available

  • The individual has become “the breadwinner or major support for a household because the head of the household has died

  • The individual is self-employed, seeking part-time employment, does not otherwise qualify for benefits, and fits one of the above.

 

Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation – FPUC (March 29 – July 31, 2020)

 

Emergency Increase in Unemployment Compensation Benefits. Provides the following:

  • Additional $600 per week for every claimant

  • UI benefits in CT currently range from $15 to $649/wk  

  • The additional FPUC will bring the range to $615 to $1,249/wk

  • Increases the average CT benefit from approx. $400 to $1,000/wk

  • The additional $600 is applicable to regular and Shared Work UI, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC).

 

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation – PEUC

  • 13 weeks of federally-funded benefits added to the end of the 26 weeks of regular state UI.

  • Eligibility:

    • Have exhausted all rights to UI under state or federal law; and

    • Must be able to work, available to work, and actively seeking work.

      • Commissioner has waived this work search requirement for state UI benefits, but as of now, work search is required for this federal program. Possibly, a waiver for work search may be provided by the federal government.

      •  

 

Challenges implementing the three federal stimulus programs

CTDOL is currently working on a new system for processing claims with the plan to have it operating mid-2021. That work unfortunately must be put on hold as we ask our IT staff, vendors and BEST to re-program the 40-year-old system comprised of a COBOL mainframe and four other separate systems. This is not a fully-automated system and requires manual determination for some steps. The agency is trying to automate as much as possible the new federal programs.

Because the federally-funded UI program has seen significant cuts in past years, staff is down by about 35%, so the agency is accessing and calling upon retired and transferred workers with IT and UI experience from all our state agencies. Also working with vendors, national UI experts, and IT experts from DOL, sister agencies, OPM, DAS, etc.

 

CTDOL is fortunate to be part of the ReEmployUSA five-state consortium made up of Connecticut, Maine, Rhode Island, Mississippi and Oklahoma. CT joined the consortium in order to build a new system more quickly, and now this consortium is lending its expertise to help CT provide the federal benefit programs faster, by developing new applications so we can bypass manual processes with automation.

Members should limit visits to local union halls as much as possible, including paying dues online or
by mail, if possible. To call 860-352-1130

Re: Unemployment:
• Regarding unemployment compensation eligibility and other questions, please refer and circulate the attached CT DOL note re: unemployment, it has good specific information for workers and employers.
• There continues to be an unsettled situation for the team at CT DOL as they are struggling to trying to respond to the unique unemployment issues that are going to face them tomorrow regarding workers who are furloughed or formally laid-off related to the crisis
• The continuing guidance we are getting from our contacts at CT DOL is that everyone should immediately file for unemployment, regardless of their current status and eligibility, in order to get their claims into the system. At some point in the future, they will be going into the system and assessing and evaluating each situation on a case-by-case basis.
• FOR WORKERS: To apply and file for Connecticut Unemployment Insurance benefits or get more information about the process and requirements please go to: www.filectui.com
• FOR EMPLOYERS & WORKERS: For more information about COVID-19 and federal FMLA from USDOL Wage and Hour Division go to: www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/fmla/pandemic

Re: AccessHealth:
• Anyone who loses employment will automatically qualify for health insurance through AccessHealthCT, although there may be some costs.
• Any worker in the state who currently is receiving health insurance through their employer and becomes unemployed, or loses minimum essential coverage – for any reason – will qualify for AccessHealthCT, Please click here to learn

more: https://learn.accesshealthct.com/special/

860-352-1130