Brothers and Sisters,

Our top priority is to be here for our members during these uncertain and difficult times. That’s why we’ll be updating this COVID-19 Online Resource Center regularly with the latest information to support you and your family.

As of Tuesday, May 26th, the Union Hall, Funds Office, and Training Center are open with a skeleton staff in adherence to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ COVID-19 return to work guidelines. We will remain operational and ready to assist. Our phone lines and emails are open for any questions or concerns you may have during normal business hours of 8 AM to 4 PM, Monday through Friday. Visitors will be required to call for assistance.
 
Additionally, please review the below resources for more information on the state’s re-opening process and safety requirements. We already uphold the top safety standards in the industry. We’re counting on each of you to lead by example and stay safe for the sake of our peers, our families, and our entire community. 

For over 120 years, we’ve faced our share of challenges and we’ve overcome them time and again. Rest assured, we are equipped to withstand anything. We stand by you, as you do us. And together, we will prevail.

In Solidarity,

Bill McLaughlin
Business Manager
Operating Engineers Local 4

Listen to Business Manager McLaughlin’s COVID-19 message:

Local 4 Openings and Contact Information

As of Tuesday, May 26th, the Union Hall, Funds Office, and Training Center are open with a skeleton staff in adherence to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ COVID-19 return to work guidelines. We will remain operational and ready to assist. Our phone lines and emails are open for any questions or concerns you may have during normal business hours of 8 AM to 4 PM, Monday through Friday. Visitors will be required to call for assistance.

In adherence to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ social distancing guidelines, all Local 4 union meetings and in-person trainings will be cancelled until further notice. All staff meetings and executive board meetings will be conducted remotely by conference call.

Return to Work Guidelines

On Monday, May 18, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts announced it will begin the first phase of re-opening the state’s economy. The state’s previous stay-at-home advisory has been revised, allowing many industries to return in a limited capacity. This means that construction sites may resume work, as long as they are not under a local moratorium.

Please review the following resources for more information on the state’s re-opening process and safety requirements:

Online Dues Payment

We encourage you to pay your dues online. To pay dues online by credit or debit card, please visit: https://bit.ly/2wId6fT
  • Enter your name, registration number, credit card number, and the desired payment amount.
  • Please note that asterisked* fields are required.
  • Your dues will be credited the next business day and your receipt will be sent in accordance with your payment.

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.
  • Emergency paid sick leave and emergency paid family medical leave have also been passed on the national level. 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. 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.
  • 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 and your family have access to uninterrupted care:
  • Coronavirus care will have no out-of-pocket cost. For members and their dependents covered by Blue Cross Blue Shield, we’ve removed copayments, co-insurance, and/or deductibles for all inpatient and 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.
  • New telehealth options. Blue Cross Blue Shield’s WellConnection offers urgent telehealth services for non-emergency medical care, including any coronavirus symptoms you may be experiencing, as well as for behavioral health concerns. These visits are at no cost to you. Access WellConnection here: https://bit.ly/2JwSD08
  • You will not lose coverage if you are laid off. Members who are out of work and receiving unemployment as a result of the COVID-19 crisis will get 30 hours/week of eligibility credit so that they do not lose coverage for next year as a result of the crisis.
  • Early prescription refills. For eligible members, we’ve temporarily waived early refill limits on 30-day prescriptions for maintenance medications. Read more here: https://bit.ly/39v5Tgh
  • Our Modern Assistance Program is here to help you handle the uncertainty and impacts of this outbreak. The impacts of the pandemic have been felt in areas surrounding every aspect of everyday life, whether it be financial, childcare needs, or health concerns.
  • For more information, please visit our Funds website: www.local4funds.org.

Annuity & Savings Plans

In this difficult time, we’re doing everything we can to make sure you and your family have the safety and security you need.

You will continue to get pension credit if you are laid off. Members who are out of work and receiving unemployment as a result of the COVID-19 crisis will get 30 hours/week of Pension credit so that members do not suffer a break in service as a result of the crisis.

You can access an early withdrawal option, if you are out of work and need it. Anyone that is out of work as a result of the COVID-19 crisis and needs quick access to up to $20,000 from their accounts can now withdraw it. The early withdrawal tax penalty is also waived on these COVID-19 distributions.

You can extend your loan payments, if you need to. Anyone with an outstanding loan who is affected by the COVID-19 crisis may extend their loan payments that come due from now until December 31, 2020 for up to one year.

For more information, please visit our Funds website: www.local4funds.org.

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 been separated from work due to COVID-19 are immediately eligible for benefits. Review the information below, and call or email your Business Representative with questions.
  • We’ve also expanded eligibility for our own benefits:
    • Out-of-work members will still be granted 30 hours/week towards health and pension benefits.
    • If you’ve been laid off as a result of COVID-19, we’ve established a temporary provision to our annuity plan. If you need it, you can now receive a single distribution in less than 15 days after your separation of service.
    • For more information about how to apply and access these benefits, please reach out to the Funds Office at office@local4funds.org.
  • Review this chart to see if you’re eligible for pandemic unemployment assistance benefits: https://bit.ly/2yqi5SD
  • Review this flowchart to see how you’re impacted by the CARES Act: https://bit.ly/34HUPvv

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 Massachusetts Building Trades President Frank Callahan: https://bit.ly/2XjKhkH

For more information on unemployment insurance (UI) and other available benefits for Massachusetts workers, please review the following guides and resources:
  • The Department of Unemployment Assistance is hosting virtual town hall meetings via phone and online to walk through the claim process, and answer questions. Register for a town hall presentation on applying for unemployment assistance by 5:30 PM the night before the presentation to receive a call. Sign up here: https://bit.ly/3blBCSG
  • Get step-by-step guidance on applying for UI during this time: https://bit.ly/2XoxBJm
  • See if you qualify for UI and get more information about receiving it: https://bit.ly/2R6r4yQ
  • For a detailed description of unemployment benefits, review this guide from the
    Massachusetts AFL-CIO: https://bit.ly/3bhvBH3
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:
  • 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.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:

Child Care

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

Additional Resources for Union Members

With the Greater Boston Labor Council, we’ve compiled an online toolkit with health insurance, unemployment, and other resources, which is being updated daily. Click here to view the toolkit.

Workers who have lost hours or their job due to COVID-19 may be eligible for SNAP Food Assistance. Click here for more information.

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

Review our COVID-19 Common-Sense Guidelines to avoid getting sick and prevent spreading the virus: https://bit.ly/3abhTE3

General President Callahan has issued a message to IUOE Members: The health and safety of IUOE members is always our top priority, but it is more important than ever that we provide you with the most current information and resources available. We have pulled together some helpful tools and guidance for IUOE Members that puts the latest health and safety measures front and center.

For even more information and guidance on COVID-19, please review the following resources:

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

Yes! We encourage you to pay your dues online. To make an online payment by credit or debit card, please visit: https://bit.ly/2wId6fT

Go to the Massachusetts state unemployment insurance website or Maine state unemployment insurance website and follow their instructions to apply online.

Applying online is the fastest way to get benefits.

For members working in Massachusetts: If you have trouble completing the application online, ask for help by filling out the COVID-19: Department of Unemployment Assistance Contact Request Form. You can apply by telephone by calling 617-626-6800 or 877-626-6800 outside the 617 area code. There are dedicated phone lines for individuals who speak Spanish and Portuguese.

You will get about half your average weekly wage. The maximum amount of UI is $823 per week. You can also get $25 per week for each dependent child up to the amount that is half your UI check. Under the new federal law, you will also get an additional $600/week in unemployment insurance benefits retroactive to 3/29/2020 and until 7/25/2020. You get this $600/week even if you only get $1.00 of state UI. DUA is now providing the additional $600/week along with the regular UI benefits payment.
For members working in Massachusetts, the maximum number of weeks now is 26 weeks of state UI benefits + 13 weeks federal benefits for a maximum of 39 weeks. You may get fewer weeks of state UI benefits depending on the amount of time you worked and how much you earned before you applied for UI.
The number of weeks may continue to increase if the economy gets worse.

If you have been unemployed for a few weeks and your employer did not tell you to apply for UI, or you were delayed because it was difficult to apply, you can get UI benefits for the weeks you missed. Be sure to note in the UI Online system when you first became unemployed.

If you are still working but your hours are reduced, you may be able to collect some UI. You will also be eligible for an additional $600 for any weeks you are getting partial UI benefits from 3/29/2020 until 7/25/2020.

If you are a non-citizen with work authorization, you can apply for UI. Getting UI does not count as a public charge. You will have to provide your Social Security Number and your work authorization card.

Massachusetts workers can fill out this form to have the Department of Unemployment Assistance contact you.

Maine workers can contact the Bureau of Unemployment Compensation here.

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.

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

If you are working, please notify your contractor and Business Representative, 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.

Local 4 staff are available via phone and email for any questions or concerns you might have. Please call us at 508-533-1433 or call your Business Representative.