STATEMENTS FROM BUSINESS MANAGER MIKE PROHASKA
April 3, 2020
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.
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.
March 29, 2020
Brothers and Sisters,
Governor Cuomo’s directive to close all non-essential construction sites is a game changer. We anticipate that the situation regarding construction may get worse before it gets better. As I write this, there has been no definitive response to questions that are being raised regarding SCA work and there is much debate on the definition of what is essential Affordable Housing.
The Union cannot maintain its current level of staffing with the office and so many construction projects shut down. Today, making one of the most difficult decisions of my career, I laid off more than half of Local 79’s staff. These cuts include Office Staff, Business Agents and Organizers. We will continue to serve members and in general it will be business as usual – just less of it. I hope with all my heart that this situation turns around quickly and everyone can get back to work, but right now my responsibility is to this organization and I believe these actions are in the best interest of Local 79’s members.
Pursuant to the constitutional variance issued by General President Terry O’Sullivan on March 13, 2020 Local 79 has cancelled April’s membership meeting.
The Local will waive re-registration requirements for the quarter ending March 31, 2020. There is no need to re-register on the Out of Work list the first five days in April
There have been some inquiries regarding monthly dues. Dues are constitutionally mandated and the Local does not have the authority to unilaterally adjust or abolish them. However, I am working with the District Council and I have been in contact with the Regional Office to ask if accommodations can be made. As always, I will keep you posted.
I want you to know that I am also working with the funds to explore options for members to access some of their annuity, should this crisis continue. Our funds have worked hard to protect your investments, and returns for your annuity for 2019 have been posted. I’m happy to tell you that the final calculation was 14.47%.
We stand together in the good times and the bad. That is the definition of a union, and no other union exemplifies this like Local 79. Our union family WILL come out the other side of this stronger and more unified than ever. Solidarity is in our blood.
To find updated department contact information, click this link: https://www.local79.org/
Stay safe, spend time with your family and keep the faith!
March 27, 2020
Brothers and Sisters,
On March 27, 2020, Governor Cuomo directed all non-essential construction sites to close, joining Local 79 in prioritizing the safety and health of our members and our families.
This directive means that some of you will be laid off, and I know your first thoughts are how you’ll support your families and what the future will look like. Please know your concerns are MY first thoughts, too. When I took my oath of office, I promised I would stand with you, fight for you and serve you through the good times and the difficult ones. We are now in a difficult time, and I will fight like hell to get us all through it, which we WILL.
We are working closely with the fund to assess all options. While these efforts are underway, we have updated this site with what is available to assist you and your families today.
We will continuously update the COVID-19 link on our website (www.local79.org) as more resources become available. Your Local 79 Organizers and Business Agents remain available to take your calls and answer all your questions to the best of our ability. We will continue to update you as quickly and responsibly as possible.
Remember – stay vigilant in protecting your physical and mental health, and that of your family. Ask for assistance when you need it. We are a family, and we will do what families do – protect and care for each other.
In safety and solidarity,
March 24, 2020
Brothers and Sisters,
For more than 24 years, the men and women of Local 79 have defined the meaning of “stronger together.” We have overcome challenges and faced down difficult times. We are strong, we are resilient and we are united – never forget that.
The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic is unprecedented for our entire nation. I know these are concerning times, and want to remind you that Local 79’s primary focus is YOU and your loved ones. Your union’s staff is still available to answer your phone calls. Local 79’s Business Agents and Organizers are still in the field and available as long as job sites are open. We will continue to communicate important information to you as soon as we can. Your Local has always been committed to you, and we will not fail you now.
I know that together, and in solidarity, we will weather this storm.