New York City Local 246

Service Employees International Union, AFL-CIO, CLC

Gov Signs Bill Giving Death Benefit to COVID-19 Frontline Worker Families

A new law will provide death benefits to the families of city and state government frontline workers who died from COVID-19 without the families having to prove their loved ones caught the virus while on the job.

“The legislation that became law will guarantee survivors an automatic death benefit without them having to jump through hoops to prove their spouse caught the coronavirus while at work,” said President Joe Colangelo. “They will also have the option of two different payouts that will mitigate their financial concerns, which is the least we can do for them in light of all they have sacrificed.”

Beneficiaries would be automatically entitled to the accidental death benefit, paid through the members’ pension, as long as the other criteria are met. The new law covers workers on the job anytime from March 1, who contracted COVID-19 within 45 days of reporting to work, and then died on or before Dec. 31, 2020, either due to COVID-19, or had COVID-19 as a contributing factor in the member’s death.

In determining whether Accidental Death Benefits should be awarded, a deceased member or retiree must have had a positive lab test for COVID-19 within 45 days of reporting to work, or have been diagnosed with COVID-19 from a qualified medical provider, either before or after the member’s or retiree’s death. The beneficiary would also have to show that COVID-19 was the cause or contributing factor in the death as documented by a death certificate or by a qualified health care provider.

Both the Ordinary and Accidental death benefit options are based on a member’s retirement system. In the case of Local 246, that is NYCERS. Other factors in determining payouts include a member’s tier, years on the job, and salary. With the new law, the designated beneficiary can choose whether to take the one-time, lump sum payout under the ordinary death benefit, or receive monthly payouts for life according to the formula of the accidental death benefit. Colangelo said it will be up survivors’ beneficiaries to meet with NYCERS to determine the best option for them.

Don’t Be A Victim of Coronavirus Scams

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact the country, scammers have seized the opportunity to prey on consumers of all ages. Text message scams, scam robocalls, fake emails and social media posts, even official-looking letters in the mail are hitting as fast as the pandemic itself.

Opportunists are unscrupulous and surface faster than you can blink an eye each time there is a crisis. They target anyone and everyone they think will take the bait. While it used to be that senior citizens were the largest target group, with today’s technology, scammers don’t even bother to single out a particular group like they used to; they just go after the masses.

Scammers prey on financial and medical fears tied to the current pandemic. Knowing that many Americans are more isolated than ever before thanks to social distancing and quarantining, scammers are constantly changing their tactics to catch people off guard.

President Joe Colangelo said Local 246 is encouraging all members to be more vigilant and remember that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. In fact, even the Internal Revenue Service has been sending out warning notices lately. Some scammers have been around for so long that they have had ample time to perfect they pitches to the point that they actually sound legitimate.

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What You Need to Know About Coronavirus

According to NYC H+H, as of Feb. 3, 2020, three people in New York City have been identified for testing for the novel coronavirus, including one patient hospitalized at NYC Heath + Hospitals/Bellevue.

The patient at Bellevue, who is under 40 and had recently traveled from China, is in stable condition. The other two individuals, who are over 60-years-old, are hospitalized at Flushing Hospital Medical Center and New York-Presbyterian Queens. Both are in stable condition. Testing to determine whether these are confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus will take a minimum of 36-48 hours and depends on CDC testing capacity.

As of Feb. 3, there have been more than 17,000 confirmed cases in more than two dozen countries with 362 deaths. In the U.S., there have been nine confirmed cases. To protect our staff and patients, NYC Health + Hospitals providers should take these precautions:

  • Frontline providers should obtain a detailed travel history for all patients being evaluated with fever and acute respiratory illness in order to identify, isolate, and inform appropriate partners promptly.
  • Patients with respiratory illness should be asked to wear a surgical mask as soon as they are identified and be evaluated in a private room with the door closed, ideally an airborne infection isolation room if available.
  • Health care personnel entering the room should use airborne, contact, and standard precautions with eye protection like goggles or a face shield.
  • If a suspected patient is identified, providers should immediately notify both infection control personnel at their facility and NYC DOHMH Provider Access Line 866-NYCDOH1 or 1-866 692-3641.

9 Things You Need to Know About the Novel Coronavirus

President Colangelo Testifies Before NYC Council on Oversight & Maintenance of Unified Fleet

On Thursday, Jan. 29, President Joseph A. Colangelo was one of many who testified before the New York City Council Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management and the Committee on Governmental Operations on the problems with the oversight and maintenance of the NYC unified fleet.

“Good afternoon. My name is Joseph Colangelo, I am the President of Local 246 SEIU. I represent 1,377 auto trade workers employed by the City of New York. I want to thank this committee for holding this hearing on such an important matter.  I am here to voice my genuine concern over the deterioration of the City’s ability to maintain and repair its essential motorized fleet. And I am here to shed light on the City’s wasteful and potentially dangerous new efforts to utilize private vendors to repair sophisticated and complicated equipment and to replace experienced auto mechanics with my union’s auto service worker title.  A title which is not trained or qualified to perform auto repair work.

Read the entire testimony here

To watch the testimony, click here

Photos: Michel Friang Photography

Auto Mechanic Shortage Puts New Yorkers At Risk During Winter Storms

When the next blizzard hits the city, there won’t be enough Auto Mechanics to do the hard work of keeping the Sanitation Department’s trucks and snow equipment up and running.

That’s the message Local 246 President Joe Colangelo has been sending for years on behalf of his overworked members to DCAS and Fleet Management — but they aren’t listening.

The City has made DSNY Auto Mechanics responsible for an ever-increasing amount of snow equipment like salt spreaders and plow trucks, but has refused to hire adequate personnel to keep up with the workload. Colangelo said City records indicate there were 577 pieces of equipment in 2013 that fell under the purview of Local 246 members, but nearly double that just four years late with 1,037 in 2017. The problem is that the manpower needed to operate, maintain, and repair this equipment has not even come close to keeping up. As Local 246 started pointing out years ago, the industry standard calls for a 7-to-1 ratio of equipment to Auto Mechanics at a bare minimum; yet, the ratio at the Department of Sanitation is twice that level. Even Sanitation officials agree that the problem has peaked.

President Joe Colangelo has been doing interviews with the media on the situation. To read the stories, you can click on the following links:

Snowpocalypse now: City dangerously unprepared for next blizzard, says mechanics’ union leader

Unions Warn Mechanic Shortage Puts City at Risk From Winter Storms

Mechanics Union: Snow Light Yet 10% Of City Salt-Spreaders Broke Down

Retiree Dues for 2020

Retirees’ annual dues for 2020 should be sent to the Union office no later than January 31, 2020. Please make your check or money order payable to NYC Local 246, and send to 217 Broadway Suite 501, New York, NY 10007 in the amount of $60. The amount is nominal and just covers the per capita and dues mailings. Once received, retirees will be mailed a 2020 membership card.

Back Pay Dates Confirmed

The Back Pay date for our recently ratified contracts for Mayoral Agencies is confirmed for 11/29/2019 for Sheet Metal and Supv. Sheet Metal Worker, Letterer & Sign Painter, Carriage Upholsterer, Rubber Tire Repairer, Auto Mechanics et. al. and Auto Service Workers For NYCHA members, the confirmed Back Pay date is 11/21/2019. The Union is awaiting the Back Pay Date for all other Non-Mayoral Agencies, CUNY, Department of Education (DOE), and H+H.

Members who want to change their New York City Deferred Compensation Contribution to capture the 11/21/2019 and the 11/29/2019 paychecks with the back pay, must do so before October 18th due to the fact that OLR will have a “blackout/transition” period from Tuesday, November 5 at 4:00 p.m., EST, and end on or about Monday, November 11th. As soon as updates become available for members in the Non-Mayoral Agencies, CUNY, Department of Education (DOE), and H+H, we will notify everyone.

Benefit Improvements to Active & Retiree Funds

Due to the diligence of the trustees of both the Active and Retiree Welfare Funds, both funds continue to do well financially, which has allowed trustees to make improvements for all members and retirees.

The Active Welfare Fund will be providing an out-of-pocket reimbursement after each fiscal year. Providers for prescription, dental, and optical will submit a file to the Union’s third party Administrator A.S.O. and the trustees will evaluate the total out-of-pocket amount to be reimbursed per member annually.

The Retiree Welfare Fund will be increasing the prescription drug cap for each Retiree group Non-Medicare Member and Dependent from $3,000 combined to $5,000. The prescription drug cap for Medicare Retirees will increase from $3,500 to $5,000, and for their dependents, from $500 to $1,500. The effective dates for all changes are to be determined once we receive clarification from attorneys for the Funds regarding compliance with the Affordable Care Act law notification guidelines.

Union Works to Settle Open Contracts with the City

As with most unions in New York City, contracts are long expired and officials are working now to negotiate new deals. The same holds true for Local 246 who held its most recent negotiation with City representatives on March 18.

With the DC 37 citywide contract resolved and approved, the Local 246 Contract Negotiating Committee has been in talks on the Union’s nine separate contracts for many months. In addition to the Union’s officers, Committee members include Rich Mazze representing Rubber Tire Repairers; Alex Soltanis representing Sign Painters/Letterers; Mark Bardes representing Sheet Metal Workers; and the general committee representing Carriage Upholsterers and Auto Service Workers.

Since the Union holds a joint bargaining certificate with IUOE Local 15 for Tractor Operators and Motor Grader Operators, a separate meeting was held with members in those titles on March 12 to update them on the status of those contract talks. The consensus of most 220 titles is that the ever-increasing pension costs now reported to be 34% or more will make it very difficult to negotiate a prevailing rate match with the private sector contracts.

President Joe Colangelo talked in depth about the contract negotiations at the March membership meeting. “We are almost finished with several contracts, and we have made significant progress on others. We don’t want to give out any specific details yet as amounts may fluctuate and change as we try to finalize everything,” he told members.

Since the previous negotiation meeting was December 11, 2018, and it took almost three months to get the meeting in March, Colangelo said the Negotiating Committee sent a list of unanswered questions to OLR representatives so they could already have answers by the time both parties met. “They did get back to us on most questions, but there are still some hanging out there that we don’t have answers to,” he said. “I am hoping to have everything wrapped up within a month or two, but when you are dealing with negotiations, you never know. It may take longer depending on what answers come back from some of the agencies.”

Current contracts expired as follows: Rubber Tire Repairer, July 16, 2017; Sign Painter/Letterer, July 25, 2017; Auto Service Worker et al (Oil Burner Specialist, Auto Body Worker, and Marine Maintenance Mechanics), December 7, 2017; Auto Mechanics and Machinists, October 1, 2017; Carriage Upholsterers, July 16, 2017; and Sheet Metal Workers, February 17, 2018. Members in all titles have been working under the terms of those contracts, and any new monies negotiated as part of the new contracts will begin the day after the previous contracts expired.

“For all contracts, the raises start the first day of the new contract, meaning everyone will have back money owed to them,” Colangelo said. “In addition, all raises are compounded, which means that when you get the second 2.25 percent raise, it is calculated on top of the first 2 percent raise. The final salary increase will be on top of the 4.25 percent. That raises the value of the overall contract. We are hoping that this will all be wrapped up fairly shortly and when all contracts are done, we will be able to provide the specifics.”

Adding Less Skilled Workers Will Diminish Maintenance

The leader of the union that represents Auto Mechanics and Auto Service Workers who service the municipal motor fleet is concerned that the Department of Citywide Administrative Services is planning to create a ratio between the two titles as a cost-containment measure that he believes will reduce the quality of the repair work and slow it down.

“I am hearing rumblings about a new initiative out of DCAS’s Office of Fleet Services to create a set ratio of Auto Mechanics to what’s called an Auto Service Worker, which is like a Mechanic Helper title,” Joseph Colangelo, president of Service Employees International Union Local 246, said in an interview in his office. Read More

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