I hope this finds you and your loved ones healthy and safe during these difficult times. I wish to take this opportunity to highlight a few things we are doing at Local 11 to benefit you as a member. These changes are meant to help you as we endeavor to beat this virus. Go to the Local 11 website at www.ibew11.org for updates and links to help answer any questions you may have. Or call the local union, we are still open for business and attending to your needs.
You should have received by mail the Plan Amendment to your Supplemental Unemployment Benefit. The Trustees have authorized an increase from $24 per week to $200 per week for apprentices and $300 per week for journeyman wireman for the months of April, May, and June 2020. This applies whether you were laid off, furloughed, or cannot go to work based on COVID-19 issues. You must have applied for California State Unemployment Benefits and meet eligibility requirements (hours worked under the Inside, ITS or Inspector agreements). You must also be receiving an unemployment check. A copy of the statement from the State will suffice as hard copy checks are no longer processed. A debit card issued by the State is loaded every work week you are eligible and goes into your designated bank account. Go to the Trust Fund website at www.scibew-neca.org for the form to submit and more information on eligibility and applying for your benefit. Remember, you still need documentation from the employer with the reason for your severance from work. This Supplemental Unemployment Benefit augmenting your income is not wages and does not render the claimant ineligible under Section 1279. Section 1265 further elaborates “benefits shall not be construed to be wages or compensation for personal services under this division and benefits payable under this division shall not be denied or reduced because of the receipt of payments under such arrangements or plans”.
The Board of Trustees and ETI staff are engaged in discussions on ways to minimize the financial impact to our students as a result of classes being suspended. Discussions are taking place on what steps can be taken to ensure that apprentice upgrades are not delayed as a result of the recent class suspensions, and that those steps do not violate the numerous regulations that govern apprenticeships. Whatever steps are taken, it is important to emphasize that the intent is not to relieve apprentices of their class completion obligations. All apprentices still in the program once “normal” operations resume will still be required to fulfill all required class obligations per their apprenticeship agreements. The intent is to make sure that apprentice upgrades are not delayed through no fault of their own as a result of the circumstances created by the current pandemic. The ETI will be in contact with you providing information specific to your progression through the program. Unfortunately, for those journeymen requiring renewal of their State Certification there are no classes available online at the ETI. However, there are classes available online through legitimate private entities. Prior to signing up for these courses make sure they comply and are approved by the State of California for continuing education credits.
Due to the continuation of the ban of meeting with groups of people of any size, we will have to cancel any district or unit meetings for the month of May. The Stay at Home order will be reviewed on May 15, 2020 but I do not anticipate any changes until later in the year. Please continue to practice safe work habits on the job to protect you and your fellow workers. In closing, I would like to remind everyone to remain current on their basic dues. All but $3.50 goes to the International Union and they follow the IBEW Constitution verbatim on delinquencies and the consequences thereof.
Stay safe and well and we will get through this together. I am confident we will get through this and become stronger as a result.