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Home2020-05-19T16:42:50+00:00

A MESSAGE FROM BUSINESS MANAGER MIKE PROHASKA

Brothers and Sisters,

As you know, I have been working with the Funds to develop options for you to access your annuity. The Funds work hard to protect and grow your investments. But I understand that these are difficult times and some of you may need to access these assets, and now you have the ability to do that. The following information outlines the details and deadlines. While I consider this a big and helpful step, I’m still working on other questions and concerns you’ve raised. Please remember that I hear you, and I’m here for you. Keep the faith in Local 79 and in me, brothers and sisters. Your union family is not going anywhere. We’ll get through this together.

Important Message Regarding the New Hardship Distribution Option due to COVID-19 from the Mason Tenders Trust Funds:

The Board of Trustees has adopted a new Annuity Fund hardship withdrawal option to assist participants during this difficult time while they face unforeseen financial consequences due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Under this option, an active (non-retired) participant may apply for a one-time withdrawal of $10,000 from their account (or their entire account balance, if the balance is less than $10,000). Eligible participants may submit an application to the Fund Office at any time from now until June 10, 2020.

Applications may be submitted by mail to the Fund Office at Mason Tenders’ District Council Trust Funds, 520 Eighth Avenue, Suite 600, New York, NY 10018-4196.   Participants will be required to complete a certification along with the application. (Here is a link to the application and certification or you may send an email to pensionannuity@mtdctrustfunds.org to request that the Fund Office send you the application and certification.) As with all Fund withdrawals, spousal consent will be required if a married participant’s account balance is or at any time was more than $5,000.

This one-time withdrawal will not count toward the Fund’s current limit of one non-educational Hardship Withdrawal per calendar year.  Applications received by the Fund Office by April 15th will be processed and paid by early May; applications received between April 16th and May 10th will be processed and paid by early June; and applications received between May 11th and June 10th will be processed and paid by early July. (The Fund Office is doing its best to process all benefit applications in a timely manner during this very difficult time so please be patient if there are delays.)

Note that some of these withdrawals may qualify for certain tax relief under the new federal CARES Act — waiver of the 10% early distribution tax penalty and payment of income taxes on the distribution over a three-year period. Participants should consult their tax advisors for advice regarding the tax consequences of any withdrawal. The Fund does not (and cannot) give tax advice.

As per the usual Fund rules in accordance with federal law, participants (and their spouse, if married) must have their signature notarized in order for their application to be processed.   We recognize that some participants may be unable to go to a notary at this time but a number of states (including New York) offer virtual or remote notarization to assist individuals during this time.  (This link may be helpful in that regard: https://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2018/06/remote-notarization-what-you-need-to-know.) The availability of virtual notarization should be of great assistance to members who need it.

BY EXECUTIVE ORDER OF THE GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK ALL NON-ESSENTIAL CONSTRUCTION SHUT DOWN

  • All non-essential construction must shut down except emergency construction, (e.g. a project necessary to protect health and safety of the occupants, or to continue a project if it would be unsafe to allow to remain undone until it is safe to shut the site).
  • Essential construction may continue and includes roads, bridges, transit facilities, utilities, hospitals or health care facilities, affordable housing, and homeless shelters. At every site, if essential or emergency non-essential construction, this includes maintaining social distance, including for purposes of elevators/meals/entry and exit. Sites that cannot maintain distance and safety best practices must close and enforcement will be provided by the state in coordination with the city/local governments. This will include fines of up to $10,000 per violation.
  • For purposes of this section construction work does not include a single worker, who is the sole employee/worker on a job site.

IMPORTANT MEMBERSHIP INFORMATION

Local 79 office is closed. Dues collection will be done online. 
The credit card fee has been waved.
There will be no Out of Work list penalty for refusing jobs. 
Shop steward certifications are indefinitely extended.

MEMBER RESOURCES

FINANCIAL RESOURCES

The COVID-19  pandemic is beginning to have devastating impacts on our economy and on working-class families. Federal, State and Local governments are stepping in to provide immediate relief to workers.

Below are Hardship Assistance and Relief Funds resources:

Access to Unemployment

We have received confirmation from the NYS Department of Labor that the hardship distributions from annuity plans  will not cause ineligibility or a reduction in unemployment benefits.

Some of these resources will not be available to every member. Please check the links provided to confirm your eligibility.

NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered immediate access to unemployment for workers who lost work due to the Coronavirus.  The 7-day waiting period has been waived.

The best way to file a new claim for unemployment insurance is through our improved online filing system. File a new claim here. This is only for new claims. If you already have a claim, please go to labor.ny.gov/signin to make weekly certifications or to view your claim information.

The NYS Department of Labor may reach out to you from a number registered as a ‘PRIVATE CALLER.’ The DOL has started an initiative to call workers with incomplete unemployment applications to help them finish the process and be connected with benefits, but the majority of their staff is working from home. To prevent fraud, anyone calling from the Department of Labor will verify their identity by providing the date you filed your unemployment insurance application and the type of claim you filed.

If you are filing a new Unemployment Insurance claim, the day you should apply is based on the first letter of your last name:

  • A – F file on Monday | G – N file on Tuesday | O – Z file on Wednesday
  • Missed your day? File on Thurs-Fri-Sat-Sun

Any claim you file will be backdated to the date you became unemployed. If you are eligible, you will be paid for all benefits due

Here is a step-by-step process to enter online services to file a claim. This is the best way to file a claim.

If you have to call the telephone claims center regarding your claim, call 1-888-209-8124 during the hours of operation:

  • Monday through Friday, 8 am to 7:30 pm, 
  • Saturday and Sunday, 7:30 am to 8:00 pm.
  • Please note that the telephone claims center cannot help you with issues related to your NY.gov account, such as difficulty logging in, changing your personal information or resetting your password.
  • For NY.gov assistance, please call 800-833-3000.

There are a few different situations regarding exhausted/expired UI benefits. Please read through to determine which fits you:

  • If your benefit year expired after July 1, 2019, you will need to file a new claim to receive 13 additional weeks of benefits. You will receive a letter in the mail from the NYS DOL with more details.
  • If your benefit year has not expired, but you exhausted your 26 weeks of benefits, you will receive a letter from NYS DOL advising you to begin certifying to receive the additional 13 weeks of benefits.
  • If your benefit year has not expired, but you stopped claiming benefits before your 26 weeks were up (for example, if you went back to work), simply begin certifying for benefits again to start receiving UI benefits.

The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Acts enhanced Unemployment Insurance benefits and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.  Find out more about how to apply and if you qualify NYS Department of Labor.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)

What You Need to know About the CARES Act

CARES Act Flowchart

** New Update: On May 13, 2020 the NYS Department of Labor announced it is suspending “forfeiture day” penalties during the pandemic emergency. The department explained that:

“Unemployed New Yorkers with forfeiture days on their accounts have already begun receiving the $600 weekly Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation payments. In addition, individuals with forfeiture days will now receive the traditional unemployment insurance (UI) or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits they would otherwise be eligible for. These payments will begin in approximately two weeks and will include back pay through today’s date. Those with other flags on their accounts, including child support payments and offset payments to reimburse the state for benefits they improperly received, will see payments reduced to continue to re-pay amounts owed.”

Economic Impact Payments

The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act created a one time payment to most households.  On March 30, the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that distribution of economic impact payments will begin in the next three weeks and will be distributed automatically, with no action required for most people. Social Security beneficiaries who are not typically required to file tax returns will not need to file an abbreviated tax return to receive an Economic Impact Payment. Instead, payments will be automatically deposited into their bank accounts. 

You can read the IRS FAQ on the program and check this IRS website for ongoing updates on coronavirus tax relief.

You can visit the IRS’s website for further and updated information on the IRS’s response to coronavirus and a list of available relief programs, which include payment plans for eligible borrowers.

NYC Property Tax Relief
The New York City Department of Finance offers several programs to assist property owners who face hardships making their property tax payments. These include exemption programs to lower the amount of taxes owed, standard payment plan options (the terms of which are individualized) as well as the new Property Tax and Interest Deferral (PT AID) program, for those who qualify.  

To qualify for PT AID you must be a NYC resident, owner of a 1- to 3-family home or condo, earn $58,399 or less per year and have fallen behind or are in danger of falling behind in paying your property taxes.  If you are experiencing a temporary loss of income resulting from an extenuating circumstance such as a job loss or death in the family, you may wish to apply for an extenuating circumstances income-based payment plan. Under this plan, you can get caught up on your property taxes over a short period of time, until your financial situation improves.

To determine your eligibility and apply visit the Department of Finance website about Standard Payment Plans or PT AID.

Tax Relief

Federal Tax Relief
The 2019 income tax filing and payment deadlines for all taxpayers who file and pay their Federal income taxes on April 15, 2020, are automatically extended until July 15, 2020. This relief applies to all individual returns, trusts, and corporations. This relief is automatic, taxpayers do not need to file any additional forms or call the IRS to qualify.  This relief only applies to federal income returns and tax (including tax on self-employment income) payments otherwise due April 15, 2020, not state tax payments or deposits or payments of any other type of federal tax.

You can visit the IRS’s website for further and updated information on the IRS’s response to coronavirus and a list of available relief programs, which include payment plans for eligible borrowers.

NYC Property Tax Relief
The New York City Department of Finance offers several programs to assist property owners who face hardships making their property tax payments. These include exemption programs to lower the amount of taxes owed, standard payment plan options (the terms of which are individualized) as well as the new Property Tax and Interest Deferral (PT AID) program, for those who qualify.  

To qualify for PT AID you must be a NYC resident, owner of a 1- to 3-family home or condo, earn $58,399 or less per year and have fallen behind or are in danger of falling behind in paying your property taxes.  If you are experiencing a temporary loss of income resulting from an extenuating circumstance such as a job loss or death in the family, you may wish to apply for an extenuating circumstances income-based payment plan. Under this plan, you can get caught up on your property taxes over a short period of time, until your financial situation improves.

To determine your eligibility and apply visit the Department of Finance website about Standard Payment Plans or PT AID.

Mortgage Grace Period

Mortgage Relief.  Gov. Cuomo has required New York State regulated financial institutions to provide residential mortgage forbearance on property located in New York for a period of 90 days to any individual residing in New York who demonstrates financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Regulated financial institutions include Bank of New York Mellon, Goldman Sachs Bank USA, M&T Bank, New York Community Bancorp and Signature Bank. Lenders have been directed to make available to customers how to apply for COVID-19 relief. Additional information and assistance can be found on the Department of Financial Services (DFS) website or by calling the DFS at 1-800-342-3736.

Foreclosures Postponed or Suspended.  Gov. Cuomo also announced he will be postponing or suspending foreclosures for three months for eligible homeowners. For help determining your eligibility, call the Department of Financial Services at 1-800-342-3736.

Some Banking Fees Waived.  New York State regulated banks will also temporarily waive fees for overdraft, ATMs and credit cards late payments for individuals with a demonstrated financial hardship.

You can learn more about mortgages and foreclosure protection from the Central Labor Council’s Know Your Rights Video.

Housing

Some of these resources will not be available to every member. Please check the links provided to confirm your eligibility.

Mortgage payment forbearance for homeowners with mortgages backed by the FHA, USDA, VA, HUD Section 184a, Fannie Mae, or Freddie Mac

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides relief for homeowners with government-guaranteed mortgages.  Homeowners with mortgages backed by the FHA, USDA, VA, HUD Section 184a, Fannie Mae, or Freddie Mac are eligible for loan forbearance for up to one year without fees, penalties, or additional interest.  Homeowners who are facing a financial hardship, either directly or indirectly, from the coronavirus may receive the forbearance by submitting a request to their servicer stating they are experiencing a hardship related to the virus.  The forbearance will be granted for 180 days and may be extended for up to another 180 days at the borrower’s request.

Homeowners in need of the forbearance should reach out to their mortgage servicers as soon as possible or contact a HUD approved housing counselor.  Contact information for a homeowner’s mortgage servicer can be found in monthly mortgage statements or coupon book. The nearest housing counselor can be found at www.consumerfinance.gov/find-a-housing-counselor or by calling (800) 569-4287.

Homeowners with FHA, USDA, VA, or Section 184 or 184A mortgages, or mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, who are facing foreclosure will also have relief from foreclosure or being forced to relocate as we address the COVID-19 pandemic.  The foreclosure eviction moratorium is in effect until May 17, 2020.

Eviction Protection

On May 7, Governor Cuomo extended the ban on evictions and late fees for missed payments in NYS to August 20.

At the landlord’s discretion, renters facing hardships due to COVID-19 may also be able to use their security deposit as a rent payment and repay their deposit over time.  Reach out to your landlord to discuss this option.

Attorney General Tish James has compiled a useful list of tenants’ rights and resources during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Right to Counsel has created an English and Spanish language Eviction Moratorium FAQ.  

In NYC, all city marshals have been notified that they can not execute any pre-existing warrants. If they attempt to violate this, please report this activity by calling the City’s Department of Investigation (DOI) Bureau of City Marshals at (212) 825-5953.

In NYC, you can also call Housing Court Answers, 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday: 212-962-4795 or 718-557-1379. Calls are answered directly in Spanish, English and French, and interpreters are used for all other languages through the LanguageLine translation service. 

Statewide hotline: 833-503-0447, open 24/7. They will soon be able to answer questions in all languages with interpreters.  This is a referral line only — hotline workers aren’t able to answer specific legal questions, but they will be able to direct you to the courts, clerks offices and other resources in your region. If you don’t get through the first time, keep trying!

You can learn more about eviction moratorium protections from the Central Labor Council’s Eviction Moratorium Informational Video

NYCHA Tenant Help
Households that experience a complete loss of income may qualify for NYCHA’s Zero Policy.  

If a household reports zero income, they will participate in an interview with NYCHA House Assistance and will complete a Zero Income Questionnaire.  The interview can be held over the phone. If you need further assistance, please call your property management office or Customer Contact Center at 718-707-7771.

A household may qualify for a rent reduction based on rent hardship if all the following conditions are met:

  • There is at least a 5% reduction to gross income
  • Current rent is more than 30% of the net household income
  • Reduction in income has lasted at least two months

Residents can request a rent reduction through an Interim Recertification, which is a change in a household’s income that occurs between Annual Recertification periods.

Residents can initiate an Interim Recertification via the NYCHA Self-Service Portal or by requesting a paper form at their Management Office (which will be mailed to the resident’s home address).

Completed paper forms and copies of the required supporting documents should be mailed to: New York City Housing Authority, PO Box 19202, Long Island City, NY 11101.

Click below a list of supporting document that must be submitted with the Interim Recertification:  

English 

Spanish 

Russion 

Traditional Chinese 

Simplified Chinese

Domestic violence
In an emergency, dial 911. Call the NYC Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-621-4673, TTY 866-604-5350 (if you’re hearing impaired) to speak with a counselor. Learn more about how Family Justice Centers can help.

Risk of homelessness
Homebase will help you develop a plan to overcome an immediate housing crisis and achieve housing stability. Call 311 to find out how Homebase can help and learn more from HRA.

Section 8
NYC Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Section 8 voucher holders having trouble paying rent because of income loss should email DTRAI@hpd.nyc.gov.

Rent Arrears and Public Assistance
If your work schedule was reduced as a result of the coronavirus and you are unable to pay your rent, you can apply for a Cash Assistance special grant request to get benefits for emergencies.

  • If you have an active Cash Assistance case, the fastest way to submit your request is online on ACCESS HRA.
  • Call HRA Info line at 718-557-1399 to learn how to apply by mail

Utilities

  • Utilities have voluntarily agreed to suspend shut-offs for nonpayment for gas and electric in New York State.

Internet

  • Large internet providers have agreed to suspend shut-offs of internet service.

  • Some providers are offering 60 days of free public wifi or other benefits to subscribers. Find list here.

Price Gouging

  • To report price gouging in NYS, consumers can fill out a Consumer Complaint Protection Form.
  • When reporting a Coronavirus Price Gouging related complaint, be prepared to provide details including: location of the merchant, any proof of excessive price(s) (receipts or pictures), and the company information.  In “complaint description” include dates and information that demonstrates a price increase.

HEALTH & SAFETY RESOURCES

New York State Executive Order 202.6  shuts down all non-essential construction sites. The order reads:

  • All non-essential construction must shut down except emergency construction, (e.g. a project necessary to protect health and safety of the occupants, or to continue a project if it would be unsafe to allow to remain undone until it is safe to shut the site).
  • Essential construction may continue and includes roads, bridges, transit facilities, utilities, hospitals or health care facilities, affordable housing, and homeless shelters. At every site, if essential or emergency non-essential construction, this includes maintaining social distance, including for purposes of elevators/meals/entry and exit. Sites that cannot maintain distance and safety best practices must close and enforcement will be provided by the state in coordination with the city/local governments. This will include fines of up to $10,000 per violation.
  • For purposes of this section construction work does not include a single worker, who is the sole employee/worker on a job site.

Local 79’s Business Agents and Organizers are in the field and available as long as job sites are open. There will be no Out of Work list penalty under the Hiring Hall Rules for refusing jobs for which you are called. Our main priority is to protect the health and safety of our members.

If you need assistance on a job site, please contact your area business agent.

Below are COVID-19 Health & Safety resources:

LiUNA guides

NYC Department of Health: Coronavirus Update

    • Members can also reach out to the NYS Department of Health COVID-19 hotline with any additional questions at 1-888-364-3065.

CDC: Guidance for Business and Employees

World Health Organization: Advice for the Public 

STUDENT RESOURCES

For NYC Public School Students

  • Grab-and-Go meals will be provided at over 400 locations.  Any student can pick up three meals a day until further notice. Click here for info about locations.
  • New York City has launched remote learning for all public schools.  For more information please visit: https://www.schools.nyc.gov/learn-at-home
  • To help students stay connected during emergencies, the DOE is lending internet-enabled iPads to support remote learning for students. If you would like to request a device for a NYC student in your family, please fill out the Request form. The DOE will use the contact information you provide to get in touch with you to discuss when and where you can pick up a device. Priority will be given to students most in need, and all devices are granted on a temporary basis and will need to be returned. A form is needed for each student requiring a device and can be found here.

Free internet at home

Charter is offering free Spectrum broadband and Wi-Fi access for 60 days to households with K-12 and/or college students who do not already have a Spectrum broadband subscription. New student households don’t have to pay installation fees. To enroll, call Spectrum at 844-488-8395.

Federal Student Loan Debt Relief

Federal Student Loans

Holders of federal students loans may be eligible for temporary benefits including loan forbearance (i.e. stopping loan payments without becoming delinquent), 0% interest rates, and halting of wage garnishment.  More information about federal student loan relief and your potential eligibility for can be found on the Federal Student Aid website.  

Questions about these programs can be directed to your loan servicer.  If you do not know who your servicer is or how to contact them, visit StudentAid.gov/login or call 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243; TTY for the deaf or hearing-impaired 1-800-730-8913) for assistance.  If you believe your wages continue to be garnished, you should first check with your employer’s human resource department.

MEMBERSHIP ASSISTANCE PROGRAM

SUPPORT FOR MEMBERS WITH SUBSTANCE ABUSE ISSUES & THOSE IN RECOVERY

We understand that this time can be especially difficult for those of us that are in recovery or suffer from anxiety or depression, as being isolated exacerbates these issues. Part of being a member of Local 79 means not having to face these things alone.

  • If you need someone to talk to or if you have questions regarding treatment please call Bernard Callegari 646-265-7762 or Chaz Rynkiewicz 646-265-5674
  • Here is a list of virtual meetings for both NA and AA

FOOD

Some of these resources will not be available to every member. Please check the links provided to confirm your eligibility.

Free three meals available daily to ALL New Yorkers

Any New Yorker can get three free meals a day at more than 400 Meal Hubs across the city.  Find a location near you.

How to pick up a meal:

  • Meals can be picked up at all Meal Hubs 7:30 am to 1:30 pm, Monday through Friday
  • Meals Hubs will operate for children and families from 7:30 am to 11:30 am, and for adults from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm 
  • No registration, ID, or documentation is required
  • You can pick up all three meals a day at the same time
  • No dining space is available, so you must eat meals away from schools

Emergency food
If you need emergency food assistance, call the Emergency Food Hotline at 866-888-8777 or 311 to find a local pantry or kitchen. There is no income limit for emergency food. Learn more about Emergency food.

Senior residents and food
For seniors ages 60 years and older who have disabilities or access or functional needs, NYC Department for the Aging (DFTA) provides home-delivered meals . Call 311 and learn more from DFTA.

SNAP (food stamps) benefits online
You can now use your Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to shop online for fresh produce and groceries and have them delivered. Use your EBT card at these online stores in NYC:

Note: You can’t use SNAP benefits to pay delivery fees. Be sure to confirm that an online store delivers to your home address. Learn more from HRA.

MENTAL HEALTH

NYC Well
An infectious illness outbreak can be stressful to you and your loved ones. It’s natural to feel overwhelmed, sad, anxious, and afraid, or to experience other symptoms of distress, such as trouble sleeping. To reduce your stress and to manage the situation more resiliently, try to remain positive, remind yourself of your strengths, connect with friends and loved ones and use healthy coping skills.

If your symptoms of stress become overwhelming, reach out for support and help. You can contact NYC Well, a confidential 24/7 helpline, staffed by trained counselors. They can provide brief counseling and referrals to care in over 200 languages.

  • Call 888-NYC-WELL (888-692-9355)
  • Text “WELL” to 65173
  • Chat at NYC.gov/nycwell

If you’re worried about how your child is dealing with the stress of COVID-19, see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on managing stress and anxiety.

NYS Mental Health Hotline
Staffed by 6,000 volunteers, this free mental health hotline is designed to offer for free emotional support, consultation and referral to a provider during the coronavirus pandemic.  The NYS Department of Mental Health offers additional resources and the hotline can be reached at 1-844-863-9314.

MEDIA

CONTACT US

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