Brothers & Sisters – As you know, the COVID-19 situation continues to change at a rapid pace so I have decided to start this “COVID-19 Bulletin Board” as a centralized reference point for you and your family. This will continue to be updated as we have a very bumpy road ahead of us. Please make sure you have the Local 697 app download and the notifications turned on as I have been, and will continue to send out “push notifications” whenever new information is added.
Remember Brothers and Sisters, we have never seen a crisis like this in our lifetimes – please make safe and smart decisions for you and your family. Together, we will get through this and I will not leave your side.
Ryan R. Reithel
Business Manager / Financial Secretary
IBEW Local Union 697
CARES ACT - proposed Federal legislation
Congress passed a $2 trillion economic rescue plan that will offer assistance to tens of millions of American households affected by the coronavirus. Its components include stimulus payments to individuals, expanded unemployment coverage, student loan changes, different retirement account rules and more.
I added a 9 page attachment for the “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQ) that include the additional $600 in weekly unemployment benefits through July, 31st; 39 weeks of unemployment benefits through December 31st; $1,200 per person tax credit, plus $500 dependent (max 2) subject to income limits and much, much more.
Effective immediately and until Tuesday, April 7th
The 697 JATC lobby is closed, all apprentice classes have been suspended and all student have been shifted to e-learning from the safety of their homes. Additionally, all journeyman classes have been suspended. The staff is here working on the e-learning material and available by phone 219-940-6175 for any questions.
The 697 Credit Union lobby is closed but the drive-thru will remain OPEN and loans will still be available. The staff is here and available by phone at 219-940-6180 for any questions.
The 697 Health & Benefits Office lobby is closed but the staff is here and available by phone at 219-940-6181 for any questions. We are requiring all members to be seen by appointment only for specific issues that cannot be discussed effectively over the phone or through email.
The 697 Business Office lobby is closed but the staff is here and available by phone at 219-945-0697 for any questions. We are requiring all members to be seen by appointment only for specific issues that cannot be discussed effectively over the phone or through email. Please remember that dues payments can be made online, on the Local 697 website/app or the credit union can send your payment. A Local 697 member can register on the out of work list (book) via e-mail to email@example.com or by fax 219-945-0650. A traveling member can register via the same email or fax by submitting their Current Dues Receipt that shows classification with; letter of introduction from home Local or current term-slip within 3 days of separation OR Business Manager to Business Managery in our nation and the need for our industry to react quickly to this and future emergencies, IBEW Local 153, 531, 697 and the Northern Indiana NECA Chapter have developed the Northern Indiana Disease Emergency Response Agreement (NIDERA)for use by our contractors and members. This agreement provides our industry with the ability to react quickly to potential emergencies related to this pandemic.The provisions of the agreement will become effective immediately, March 16, 2020, as it is intended for use and shall remain in effect until terminated. The parties shall meet via teleconference every 30 days to evaluate this agreement and determine its continued utility.
Indiana Executive Orders for COVID-19
Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb has issued Executive Order 20-05 on March 19th that contains emergency changes for Unemployment, Family Social Services, Veterans Affairs, Department of Education, Essential Services, Department of Revenue, Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Department of Health, Public Licensing and all State Agencies.
Governor Holcomb signed Executive Order 20-08 on March 23rd that contains information on the Stay-at-Home Order, Non-Essential Business Must Cease Operations, Prohibited Activities, Prohibited and Permitted Travel, Leaving the Home for Essential Activities, CISA approved list, Essential Travel, Social Distancing and Enforcement of the Executive Orders.
Additionally, Governor Holcomb signed Executive Order 20-12 on March 26th that contains information on Unemployment (Suspensions of the one week waiting period for unemployment benefits), Department of Health, Family & Social Services, Professional Licensing and Government Finance. Please take some time to review these official documents as they contain important information for you and your family.
Going to work during the "Stay-at-Home Order"
Let me be clear and concise with this next statement - Each and every one of you has a decision to make whether to go to work if your job is open or stay home because of the possibility of contracting and/or passing “COVID-19”. There shall be no adverse action taken against an employee who refuses to be present at the jobsite so long as the employee genuinely believes there is imminent danger and a reasonable person would agree there is a real danger of contracting coronavirus at the jobsite, nor shall any adverse action be taken against an employee who has been quarantined, or advised to self-quarantine, due to possible exposure to coronavirus. This is part of the NIDERA that we are all currently operating under.
There have been multiple questions as to how does the Governor’s Executive order effect construction. The Executive Order, for the time being, does have exclusions for our industry as stated in section 11, section 14j and section 14v.
I have attached the following documents for everyone’s clarification and understanding…
I strongly suggest you keep this supporting documentation with you along with your current dues receipt in case there are any questions and/or potential issues with Law Enforcement.
Filing for Unemployment
Per the NIDERA that we are currently operating under, you are allowed to file for unemployment during your permitted furlough as a direct result of the Coronavirus. When you come to the section that asks if your employer has a “Sub Fund” click NO as your 697 Sub Fund is NOT tied to your employer.You can only file for unemployment insurance benefits online with a computer, tablet, or smart phone. To file for unemployment, visit www.unemployment.in.gov which includes an updated FAQ, tutorial and other helpful information.
UPDATE: Governor Holcomb'sExecutive Order 20-12suspended the one (1) week waiting period before paying unemployment benefits. This suspension shall be retroactive to March 8, 2020 and will help all Hoosiers.
UPDATE: For the Indiana Unemployment Insurance Frequently Asked Questions for the COVID-19 work-related issues that was updated on Thursday, March 26th click HERE.
Local 697 Sub Fund
In conjunction with the new NECA-IBEW Northern Indiana Disease Emergency Response Agreement (NIDERA) that is in effect, the Trustees of the Local 697 Sub Fund took the following action:
BE IT RESOLVED the Eligibility for Weekly Sub Fund Benefit Rules A, C and D of the Summary Plan Description found on page 10 of said Summary Plan Description shall be suspended until either NIDERA is terminated or until further notice is given by the Trustees, whichever occurs first.
To summarize: In light of the COVID-19 situation and the potential for job shut downs which may result in temporary unemployment, the Trustees of the Sub Fund have suspended the requirements that: a member must have $1,200 accumulated in their individual Sub Fund Account; be signed on the IBEW Local 697 out of work list; or be available to accept a call for work as a prelude to receive their Sub Fund Benefit.
Please be aware that you must still apply for state unemployment before you can obtain any Sub Fund benefit. If you qualify for Sub Fund benefit, you may choose to receive a benefit of $150 or $300 per week. All other provisions of the Summary Plan Description shall remain in full force and effect. If you have any questions, please contact the Fund office.
As it was and will remain, you DO NOT have to draw from your Sub Fund if you are on unemployment. Please use the Sub Fund benefit so it will work best for you and your family as we have a long and bumpy road ahead of us.
Here are the instructions for getting your SUB Fund benefits started...
If you do not wish to e-mail the paperwork, you may either mail in the forms or drop them off through the Credit Unions drive-up window.
Health Care - hours and eligibility
At this point, there have not been any changes made. All options are under continual review as we HAVE TO make sure this fund stays healthy and can take the medical impact from the COVID-19 virus to protect you and your family.
Annuity - Vanguard Account
We are currently working with our legal council and Vanguard along with the provisions in the proposed Federal stimulus bill(s). Information keeps changing by the day and nothing has been finalized in Congress at this point. Additionally, this will have to approved at the State level. It is critical to make sure our emergency options DO NOT have catastrophic tax consequences for our members & their families. Please keep this option as a last resort with your planning and preparation.
The Local 697 Credit Union will be rolling out infomation on a new “Member Relief Loan” on Monday, March 30th
Teladoc (telemedicine) is included with your Local 697 Health Care. I know most of you have used it over the past year, but I wanted to remind everyone that this benefit is available to you and your family during this global pandemic. If you have not downloaded the Teladoc app, you can do this by clicking on the “Benefits Office” tab of the Local 697 website or click HERE.
The American Red Cross now faces a severe blood shortage due to an unprecedented number of blood drive cancellations during this coronavirus outbreak. If you are healthy and able, please come out to donate. If you have questions about donating during the COVID-19 global pandemic or to schedule an appointment, please visit www.redcrossblood.org for information and precautions in place for donors.