As of May 1st, the unemployed 'A'-rated journeymen total was 1,014 and an additional 3,564 were on temporary layoff. There are 45 unemployed 'A'-rated Telephone journeymen and an additional 57 on temporary layoff. In Westchester 173 AJ's are unemployed and another 207 are on temporary layoff.
The NYC Employment Plan went into effect November 4th, 2019 and 570 furlough replacements have been sent to work. Furlough replacements are guaranteed 26 weeks work. However, due to the coronavirus crisis, many were temporarily laid off and are required to be rehired to complete the 26 weeks. The plan requirement for the employers to hire 10% of their furlough eligible workforce in the second six-month period of the furlough plan year which would have begun May 4th and ended this November still stands. The Employment Committee met last week and given the current situation with the current two month shutdown still ongoing, as jobs start to open up again, we agreed to extend the date for the second hiring period targeted to begin on July 6th. This will allow the current furlough replacements to complete their 26 weeks. Therefore the furlough plan will then end on January 4th, 2021.
The temporary layoff time will count toward the eight week furlough obligation. In as much as many members would have fulfilled that obligation and have no time off until January 2021, the Committee also agreed that Journeymen who have completed the eight week furlough obligation may, if they choose, take two weeks of vacation and withdraw the vacation allowance from the Deferred Salary Plan. The employers cannot make you take the time; it is at your discretion. A letter from the Joint Board will be sent notifying you of these changes.
There are also approximately 1,830 'M'-rated, apprentices, and helpers on temporary layoff. Governor Cuomo has indicated that all non-essential construction that has been stopped will resume on May 15th upstate and it is anticipated that jobs in NYC will open two weeks later. It is predicated on the hope and expectation that there is no spike in newly-reported coronavirus cases. There will be strict protocols for all interior and new construction sites. Follow the rules.
Another concern is that if you are called back and still have concerns about going back to work due to a family member or spouse that has underlying health conditions, or you have children to care for, what happens to your unemployment status. We also have the situation with the additional $600.00 per week for unemployment, as some members are making more money on unemployment.
We will need to safely man the jobs in our jurisdiction. This is a hard balance that everyone in every industry is struggling with. Your medical insurance is predicated on either being employed or unemployed and available for work. If there is a job and you are not available your medical could technically be in jeopardy. There is the option to purchase COBRA but it is expensive. If you lose your medical, the plan requires new contributions for 26 weeks in order to be eligible again. The medical plan has taken a significant hit with this current unemployment and we can’t just extend coverage to members that don’t want to go to work.
These are difficult decisions that members will have to take into consideration as we start to go back to work. I am struggling with this everyday. The responsibility to tell members that they have to go to work with the possibility that they could get sick or lose their medical coverage is one I wish I did not have. Local 3 has always done what it can to give consideration in difficult cases and we will again. These are tough times brothers and sisters but we will figure it out. Hang in there and be safe.