Coronavirus Resource Center for Building Trades Unions

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information & Resources below:

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News & Updates

Unemployment Information/Updates/Legislation

Best Practices for Workers and Employers

Special Changes from Healthcare Insurance Carriers

News & Updates

(Updated 5/21/20)

MASSCOSH Report Card for MA Baker-Polito Reopening Plan
Report the Report Card

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MA AFL-CIO Response to Reopening Plan
Read the Letter

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Official MA Reopening Plan (as of 5/18/20)
https://www.mass.gov/info-details/reopening-massachusetts

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Mayor Marty Walsh of Boston announces New Guidelines, Safety Protocols and Review Process for Reopening of Essential Construction in Boston for May 18th

(Links to Announcement, Safety Protocols and more within)

https://www.boston.gov/news/temporary-guidance-construction-city-boston

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MA Division of Unemployment Assistance (applications, information and etc.) in Spanish.

Información de desempleo de Massachusetts sobre el virus COVID-19

https://www.mass.gov/service-details/dua-espanol-spanish

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Saugus Town Manager Scott Crabtree asks Gov. Baker to Reconsider Suspending Construction Statewide

Read the Article

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Painters DC 35 members to cease working in Massachusetts effective April 6th

“Effective at the close of business on April 6th, 2020, I am directing all District Council 35 construction members to stop working until it is safe to resume. This directive does not apply to our construction members working on critical infrastructure projects or to any work being done on structures being built to combat the COVID-19 Pandemic.”

Read the Letter

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Carpenters to cease working in Massachusetts effective April 6th


Executive Secretary-Treasurer Tom Flynn notified employer partners that he is directing union carpenters to cease working in Massachusetts effective April 6, 2020 until it is safe to do so because “it has become apparent that working on construction sites in Massachusetts is abnormally dangerous and that continuing to work on construction sites poses an immediate threat of harm to the health and safety of my members and the public.”

Read the Letter

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Easthampton Ceases Public Construction

“Mayor Nicole LaChapelle issued an executive order Friday to shut down all construction projects in the city that receive public funds, to help stop the spread of COVID-19…The order will go into place on April 8, and continue until May 4.

Exceptions to the order include mandated building or utility work and work necessary to render occupied residential buildings fully habitable.”

https://www.gazettenet.com/Construction-moving-ahead-on-major-city-projects-33658514

Read the Order

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MA Legislators’ Letter Urging Gov. Baker to Reconsider Suspension of Construction Statewide
Read the Letter

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Massachusetts Building Trades Council votes unanimously to call for a statewide suspension of all regular activity at construction sites in Massachusetts

Press Release

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‘To Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, the explanation is simple: “I’m going to put the life of the construction worker ahead of anything else.”’

https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/03/30/opinion/pandemic-porta-potties-are-risky-business-construction-workers/

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There has been some confusion generated by Governor Bakers statement regarding construction in Boston and other cities.  Boston Mayor Martin Walsh has clarified that his order of March 16th is still in effect.  (see below)

UPDATE: On Wednesday, March 25, Mayor Walsh announced he is affirmatively extending the City of Boston’s order to pause non-essential construction for City of Boston permitted sites. Read the press release.

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Somerville Suspends Construction

“Somerville is ordering all construction projects to cease general construction operations, establish services necessary to occupy in-use buildings, and make their sites safe to the general public. With few exceptions that must be approved by the Director of Inspection Services Department for private construction and the Director of Infrastructure and Asset Management for City projects, all sites must be secured by Friday, March 27th. Exceptions will be carefully scrutinized and will include allowances for minimally staffed efforts using safe protocols to secure sites to the elements to prevent damage and ensure public safety.”

Read the full advisory :

https://www.somervillema.gov/covid19constructionupdate

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Watertown Suspends Construction

Watertown is suspending all construction activity effective 5:00 PM on Wednesday March 25, 2020, other than work which is being done in response to emergency situations.

https://www.watertown-ma.gov/DocumentCenter/View/29122/Town-Managers-Coronavirus

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Governor Charlie Baker Orders All Non-Essential Businesses To Cease In Person Operation, Directs the Department of Public Health to Issue Stay at Home Advisory For Two Weeks

CONSTRUCTION is listed on page 8 as a COVID-19 Essential Service and thus is NOT restricted by the Governor’s order

“Construction Workers who support the construction, operation, inspection, and maintenance of construction sites and construction projects (including housing construction)”

https://www.mass.gov/doc/covid-19-essential-services/download

To read the Full Order go to this link:

https://www.mass.gov/news/governor-charlie-baker-orders-all-non-essential-businesses-to-cease-in-person-operation

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City of Cambridge Issues Temporary Construction Moratorium

March 18, 2020

Starting March 21,2020: By close of business, all construction activity must cease, and construction sites may only be accessed thereafter to make the job site safe and secure.

Link to full text of Temporary Emergency Construction Moratorium of 3-18-20 (PDF).

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March 16, 2020

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced a series of updates relating to construction activity.

Effective, Tuesday, March 17, 2020, the City is suspending all regular activity at construction sites in Boston. Employers should maintain the necessary crews to keep their sites safe and secure, keep any materials from blowing away, and prevent trespassing. This work needs to be completed in the next week, by Monday, March 23, 2020. After sites have been secured, skeleton crews will be permitted for the remainder of this suspension to ensure safety. The only work that will be permitted moving forward will be emergency work, which will need to be approved by the City of Boston’s Inspectional Services Department.

Read the full press release for more information.

 

 

Unemployment Updates and Information

(Updated 5/7/20)

Massachusetts Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

https://ui-cares-act.mass.gov/PUA/_/#1

Above is the link for our members who have exhausted their unemployment benefits to apply for the extended 13 weeks of benefits.

Members will need to link onto this website – Pandemic Unemployment Assistance – and fill out the application.

Members need to do this even if they have an open claim with DUA. They will get 13 weeks of extended benefits plus the addition $600 CARES Act funding retroactive to March 28, 2020.

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Important Information on Unemployment Insurance re: 13-Week Extension and Additional $600 In Benefits

Unemployment Insurance Update (4-7-20)

The US Department of Labor (USDOL) has released its regulations regarding the 13-week extension of UI benefits and the additional $600 in weekly benefit payments passed under the federal CARES Act.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts signed an agreement with USDOL and the Act is retroactive to March 29, 2020.

The Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) is moving to add an additional $600 to the weekly benefits received by traditional unemployment claimants, retroactive to March 29, 2020. DUA is also implementing the 13-week extension of benefits.

 

Key Points:  

Beginning and Ending Dates of the FPUC Program in a State:

·      Under Section 2104(e) of the CARES Act, Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) is payable in a state for weeks of unemployment beginning after the date on which the state enters into an agreement with the Department and ending with weeks of unemployment ending on or before July 31, 2020.  The beginning date for Massachusetts is March 29, 2020.

·      States that are unable to immediately pay benefits the week following the execution of the agreement with the USDOL to operate the program must provide retroactive payments to individuals eligible for (FPUC) for the weeks they would have been entitled.

Notification to Claimants:

·      The state must notify a potentially eligible individual of his or her entitlement to FPUC.  Such notification should include both the beginning and ending dates for the FPUC program.

Allowable Methods of Payment:

·      States must issue payments of FPUC as soon as administratively feasible.  States have some flexibility in how they issue FPUC payments; states may pay the additional $600 either:

a)   as an amount which is paid at the same time and in the same manner as any regular UC otherwise payable for the week involved; or

b)   at the option of the state, by payments which are made separately from, but on the same weekly basis as, any regular UC otherwise payable

c)    This means you may receive the additional $600 in either your regular benefit check or as a separate check.

If the individual is eligible to receive at least one dollar ($1) of underlying benefits for the claimed week, the claimant will receive the full $600 FPUC

Taxable Income:

·      The $600 FPUC is taxable.  Therefore, states must include FPUC when preparing 1099Gs, and must, consistent with Section 3304(a)(l8), FUTA (26 U.S.C. §3304(a)(18)), withhold taxes from the weekly benefit amount and from the $600 FPUC, when an individual elects to have taxes withheld

 

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Today, [3-18-20] the Massachusetts Legislature enacted and the Governor signed a law waiving the one-week waiting period for unemployment benefits related the COVID-19 outbreak.  It is retroactive to March 10th and expires 90 days after termination of the state of emergency.

 

Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance:

The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development (EOLWD) and the Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA), in coordination with the US Department of Labor (USDOL), are taking a series of actions to assist workers and employers.

For current unemployment claims:

  • All requirements regarding attending seminars at the MassHire career centers have been suspended.
  • Missing deadlines due to effects of COVID-19 will be excused under DUA’s good cause provision.
  • All appeal hearings will be held by telephone only.

The Department of Labor issued guidance to the states instructing state agencies to apply existing law flexibly. Under the DOL guidance, DUA may now pay unemployment benefits if a worker is quarantined due to an order by a civil authority or medical professional or leaves employment due to reasonable risk of exposure or infection or to care for a family member and does not intend to or is not allowed to return to work. The worker need not provide medical documentation and need only be available for work when and as able.

To assist individuals who cannot work due to the impact of COVID-19, the administration is filing emergency legislation that will allow new claims to be paid more quickly by waiving the one week waiting period for unemployment benefits.

EOLWD and DUA are also filing emergency regulations that will allow people impacted by COVID-19 to collect unemployment if their workplace is shut down and expects to reopen in four or fewer weeks. The following conditions apply:

  • Workers must remain in contact with their employer during the shutdown.
  • Workers must be available for any work their employer may have for them that they are able to do.
  • An employer may request to extend the period of the covered shut-down to eight weeks, and workers will remain eligible for the longer period under the same conditions described above.
  • If necessary, DUA may extend these time periods for workers and employers.

Employers who are impacted by COVID-19 may request up to a 60-day grace period to file quarterly reports and pay contributions.

The pending federal legislation proposes further relief including additional money for unemployment benefits, and relief to employers for charges related to unemployment benefits paid due to COVID-19.

 

Families First Bill- Passed 3/13/20. Please read for important federal changes for workers during the Coronavirus crisis:

“The legislation guarantees free coronavirus testing, establishes paid leave, enhances Unemployment Insurance, expands food security initiatives, and increases federal Medicaid funding.”

Families First Act Summary

Best Practices For Workers and Employers (Updated 4/2/20)

 

OSHA Standards re: Coronavirus (COVID-19)

https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/standards.html

 

 

AFL-CIO Coronavirus (COVID-19) Page

https://aflcio.org/covid-19

 

Center For Construction Research and Training

https://www.cpwr.com/covid-19

 

 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fspecific-groups%2Fguidance-business-response.html

 

 

National Law Review:

For Employers: Coronavirus and US Safety and Health Law

https://www.natlawreview.com/article/employers-coronavirus-and-us-safety-and-health-law

The Coronavirus: Best Practices to Mitigate Risks in the Workplace

https://www.natlawreview.com/article/coronavirus-best-practices-to-mitigate-risks-workplace

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information & resources from Health Insurance Carriers

Health Care: The Massachusetts Department of Public Health issued guidance today that includes the following:

  • All commercial insurers and the Group Insurance Commission are required to cover medically necessary telehealth services in the same manner they cover in-person services. The full order is available here.
  • Insurers must cover COVID-19 related treatment and testing without requiring cost-sharing of any kind – such as co-pays and coinsurance – for testing and treatment.
  • Additionally, insurers cannot require prior authorization for these services.
  • All assisted living residences are to ban visitors to protect the health of residents and staff. This is in addition to the federal guidance issued on Friday that bans visitors to nursing homes and rest homes.

 

Items addressed: coverage for tests, waiving co-payments for COVID-19 treatment, removal of prior authorizations & referrals, lifting limits on early prescription refills, telehealth options and help lines for questions.

 

Information and links to Health Insurance Carriers:

 

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts

https://home.bluecrossma.com/coronavirus

 

Cigna

https://www.cigna.com/individuals-families/health-wellness/topic-disaster-resource-center/coronavirus-public-resources

 

Tufts Health Plan

https://tuftshealthplan.com/employer/employer-news/2020/preparing-for-coronavirus

 

UnitedHealthcare

https://www.uhc.com/health-and-wellness/health-topics/covid-19

 

AllWays Health Partners

https://allwayshealthpartners.org/meet-us/Newsroom/Coronavirus-Notice

Contact Us

Contact the Massachusetts Building Trades Council

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