COVID-19 Resource Center

Brothers and Sisters,

We’ve built one of the strongest unions in the industry – and together, we can withstand any storm.

We might not have all the answers right now, but you have my word: Local 17 has your back, no matter what. Our utmost priority is the health and wellbeing of our members, and we’ll be updating this COVID-19 Online Resource Center daily with the latest information to support you and your family.

Please call the Union Hall or a Business Agent if you have any questions or need assistance. We will get through this together, as one Union.

In solidarity,

Bob Butler
Business Manager
Sheet Metal Workers Local 17

Local 17 Closures & UPDATES

We have announced the following closures and cancellations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Union Hall meetings and events are suspended until further notice.
  • Union Hall, Funds Office, and Training Center are closed to visitors until further notice.
  • Training Center courses are suspended until Monday, April 13th. Updated training schedules will be developed.

While our offices are physically closed, we have full remote capabilities, and Local 17 staff continue to be available via phone and email for any questions or concerns you might have.

Members in the Fall River/New Bedford Area, please note that Local 17 has issued this interim wage sheet until a meeting can be held: https://bit.ly/3al2JNu

Project Shutdowns & Updates

Construction sites in the following locations are currently shut down:
 
  • City of Boston, MA
  • City of Cambridge, MA
  • City of Somerville, MA
  • City of Watertown, MA

According to the Mayor’s Office, as of May 5, the City of Boston will “allow essential construction projects” starting on Monday, May 18th. This work includes “hospitals, public schools, residential buildings [1-3 units], roads and utility work, and other outdoor/open-air work.” Projects will be “required to submit a COVID-19 Safety Plan and a signed affidavit” and will need to be “sufficiently prepared to adhere to all criteria.” On May 26, the City may allow “all essential construction projects to re-commence construction activities in adherence to their safety plans.” We will keep you updated regarding similar re-openings in Cambridge, Somerville, and other areas throughout our region.

Members going to work should follow industry guidance on COVID-19 to ensure best practices and keep their families and fellow workers safe. 

Members who are currently working and feel well, but need to take care of a child or a sick family member, should notify their contractor and Business Agent, and stay home. Please review our previous guidance for details.

Return to Work Guidance

As stated in Gov. Baker’s May 18 announcement, construction is beginning to resume in Massachusetts. If you are returning to work, please review the following guidelines and resources to keep yourself and your job sites safe:

Paid Leave

  • We’ve worked with our industry partners to ensure that members who are still on the job, but need to take care of a child or ill family member, are in no way penalized for missing work.
  • If you or your family member gets sick with COVID-19, they will be guaranteed two weeks of paid sick time thanks to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, signed into law at the federal level on March 18, 2020. If you have children who need care due to school closures or have been instructed to remain at home due to exposure or symptoms, you may also be eligible for this benefit. Review the details: https://bit.ly/3dwHE4I
  • For members working in Maine, starting January 1, 2021, the Department of Labor has announced that earned time off will follow union construction workers between employers contracting with the same bargaining unit. This means that if you start with a different contractor next year, you will not have to start over accruing your paid leave.

Health & Welfare Coverage

We know that the coronavirus is a health concern for everyone. We’re here to ensure you have access to uninterrupted care.

Here’s what our Health & Safety Fund is doing to help protect your health and safety:

  • Coronavirus care with no out-of-pocket cost: We have removed copayments, co-insurance, and/or deductibles for all outpatient, medically necessary Coronavirus testing, counseling, supportive care, and treatment. If you think you need coronavirus testing or care, call your doctor or other healthcare provider. Note: You will still be responsible for your usual out-of-pocket costs for in-person care that is not for coronavirus.
  • We will cover a coronavirus vaccine at no cost: Although a vaccine is not yet available, we will cover it when one becomes available.
  • If you are an Active Member with EnvisionRx Prescription benefits or a Retired Member with Blue Cross prescription benefits: We are allowing early prescription refills.
  • For Counseling with: Mental Health, Substance Abuse, Stress, Anxiety, Depression, Relationship Issues, or Referrals, contact Modern Assistance at 800-878-2004 or visit www.modernassistance.com.
  • Prior authorizations and referrals: You don’t need to get authorization or referrals for outpatient coronavirus care.

For more information and details on how to get in touch with the Health & Safety Fund, please review this full guide: https://bit.ly/3bh5gbM

If you or a family member are feeling stressed and would like to talk with someone, SMART is providing access to counselors over the phone for free. Just call (877) 884-6227. For more information, click here: https://bit.ly/2QY7hBJ

Unemployment Benefits & Tips

General Guidance
  • We’ve successfully lobbied the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the State of Maine to waive the one-week waiting period for unemployment assistance. All members who have separated from work due to COVID-19 are immediately available for benefits. Review the information relevant for your state below, and call or email your Business Agent with questions.
  • Congress also passed a stimulus bill that includes additional relief for those collecting unemployment, including an additional $600 per week for 4 months on top of your current benefits. Review the full details on the bill here: https://bit.ly/3bBujWT
  • Check out SMART’s FAQ on Unemployment Benefits and One-Time Direct Payments http://lil.ms/3pi1/5e35wh

For Members Working in Massachusetts 

If you are applying for unemployment as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, follow these key tips to receive quick and reliable benefits:

  • Submit your application on or after the Monday following your layoff. Your application may be disqualified if you apply for unemployment assistance prior to the Monday after your layoff.
  • Apply online. State-run call centers and offices are closed or operating with limited staffing. The fastest way is to apply online by following these instructions: https://www.mass.gov/how-to/apply-for-unemployment-benefits
  • Do NOT enter a “return to work” or “recall” date. Although some public officials have identified plans to re-evaluate suspensions of construction work, this is not a guarantee that work will resume at that time.
  • If you need to reset your password or have trouble accessing your account, use this link: https://www.mass.gov/how-to/reset-your-ui-online-password-as-a-claimant

In accordance with the federal CARES Act, the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) is moving to add an additional $600 to the weekly benefits received by unemployment claimants, retroactive to March 29, 2020. The DUA is also implementing the 13-week extension of benefits. For more information on receiving your benefits, review this letter from MA Building Trades President Frank Callahan: https://bit.ly/3aMTdmu

For more information on unemployment insurance (UI) and other available benefits for Massachusetts workers, please review the following guides and resources:

For Members Working in Maine 

If you are applying for unemployment as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, follow these key tips to receive quick and reliable benefits:

  • Apply online. State-run call centers and offices are closed or operating with limited staffing. The fastest way is to apply online by following these instructions: https://www.maine.gov/unemployment/claimants/
  • Do NOT enter a “return to work” or “recall” date. Although some public officials have identified plans to re-evaluate suspensions of construction work, this is not a guarantee that work will resume at that time.
For more information on unemployment insurance (UI) and other available benefits for Maine workers, please review the following guides and resources:

 

For Members Eligible and Qualified for SASMI Benefit
SASMI will provide all eligible and qualified participants unable to work during any part of the remaining 2020A Stabilization Period due to exposure to COVID-19, displaced from employment as a result of COVID-19, or who have voluntarily removed themselves from the workforce in response to COVID-19 with a special emergency benefit.

If you have questions or concerns about your SASMI benefits, please call Russell Bartash at 617-296-1680 x 102 (office) or 617-593-6357 (cell).

Online Dues Payment

We encourage you to pay your dues online or by phone. For instructions on how to make a payment, visit: https://bit.ly/33CgJ2F

Childcare 

Although most childcare programs in Massachusetts have been closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some emergency childcare programs will still operate for children of families who are Essential Workers. For more information visit: https://sforce.co/2wLMhao

Retirees & Beneficiaries Information

Until future notice, please refer to the following documents to ensure timely payments and maintain updated records:
  • Given the possibility of delays as a result of COVID-19, retirees and beneficiaries are strongly encouraged to sign up for Direct Deposit to ensure they receive timely payments: http://bit.ly/2J06uvN
  • For information regarding federal and state withholdings for Retirees & Beneficiaries, and how to update your withholdings, click here: http://bit.ly/2IXwqrS
  • For information about the Plan’s current Disqualifying Employment provisions, including work after retirement, click here: http://bit.ly/33Hv1zr

Federal CARES Act

As you may have seen, Congress recently passed a stimulus bill that includes an additional $600/week in relief for those collecting unemployment and individual cash payments of $1,200. This is a good start, but it’s not enough. Rest assured, we’ll be fighting like hell until you and your family get the support you need. 

Get all the details on the CARES Act and how it affects you: https://bit.ly/2UVw2zJ

Mental Health Resources

Additional Resources for Union Members

Click here to listen to Talking SMART, a podcast episode on how SMART is mobilizing to help and support members in need. 

Follow SMART’s Emergency Legislative Center for clear, accurate information about legislation and updates that will benefit SMART families. 

Click here for Greater Boston Labor Council’s COVID-19 Resource Guide, which includes key resources and up-to-date guidance on unemployment, healthcare, child care, and more.

Additionally, visit the Mass Building Trades Council’s Best Practices page for information on the following:

  • Best practices for workers and employers
  • Unemployment insurance updates
  • Details on the paid sick and family medical leave legislation recently passed at the federal level.
  • Updates from healthcare carriers
For guidance and support in American Sign Language, watch the CDC’s ASL video series on COVID-19. Subjects include:
  • COVID-19 Prevention Tips
  • Symptoms of COVID-19
  • What Older Adults Need to Know about COVID-19
  • What Is My Risk for COVID-19?
  • 10 Things You Can do to Manage COVID-19 at Home

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I pay my dues online or by phone?
Yes! For instructions on how to make a payment, visit: https://www.smw17boston.org/member-resources/.
How do I apply for unemployment insurance?

Go to the Massachusetts state unemployment insurance website or Maine state unemployment insurance website and follow their instructions to apply online. Make sure to enter “LAYOFF” as the reason for your unemployment, and DO NOT list a return to work date.

Follow this powerpoint guide for a step-by-step walk-through of how to apply during this time:

What about apprenticeship trainings? When will those be made up?
All Local 17 trainings, meetings, and events have been suspended until further notice. We will keep members updated about any future scheduled events, and will issue updated training schedules.
What if I'm working, but feel sick?

If you’re not feeling well or have symptoms of acute respiratory illness, it is recommended that you stay home and not come to work until you are free of fever (100.4° F [37.8° C] or greater using an oral thermometer), signs of a fever, and any other symptoms for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines (e.g. cough suppressants).

Please report an illness and subsequent absence from work to your contractor, as well as the Union Hall at (617) 296-1680.

Seek medical help if you have a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing. Information on COVID-19 symptoms can be found on the CDC website.

I don't feel sick, but I have a family member who isn't feeling well. What do I do?
If you are working, please notify your contractor and Business Agent, and stay home.

The best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is by practicing social distancing, even if you are not feeling sick. Please review our previous guidance for details on how to stay healthy and reduce the spread of the virus.

I have a question that isn't answered on this page. Who do I call?
Local 17 staff are available via phone and email for any questions or concerns you might have. Please call us at (617) 296-1680 or call your Business Agent.