Washington Teamsters Welfare Trustees Vote
To Extend Healthcare Coverage For Up To Three Months
March 25, 2020
Extension will allow Local 231 Teamster members who have medical coverage under one of the Washington Teamsters medical plans to continue to receive coverage for up to 3 months if they lose coverage during the COVID-19 crisis
Yesterday the Trustees of the Washington Teamsters Welfare Trust voted unanimously to authorize a three-month waiver of healthcare premium for members who lose coverage during the COVID-19 crisis. The extension applies to participants who are terminated, laid off, or have their hours reduced below the monthly coverage threshold. This new rule would be applied retroactively to the beginning of March 2020. Payment for the extension would be made out of current Trust reserves. “As we continue to work to protect and represent the membership during this unprecedented pandemic, we hope this action will help provide some sense of security for those who may otherwise lose medical coverage for their families”, said Local 231 Secretary-Treasurer, Rich Ewing. Members with questions about their coverage are encouraged to contact Northwest Administrators at (206) 329-4900.
An Open Letter to Governor Jay Inslee: From Rick Hicks, Teamsters Joint Council 28 President
March 23, 2020
As you know, I am the Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 174 in Seattle and the President of Joint Council 28 which includes all of Washington, all of the State of Alaska, and the panhandle of Northern Idaho. I am writing this letter in a moment of inner turmoil, for I have supported you for years in your role as the Governor for Washington’s working people. However, recent events have made it clear that your support for working people stops short of taking the bold and decisive actions that are needed to keep them safe: a statewide lockdown/shelter-in-place order.
As COVID-19 spreads through our state, we turn to our leaders to protect us and guide us away from harm. However, your lack of leadership in refusing to implement a lockdown/shelter-in-place order across our state puts our members at risk, and I will not stand for it. Teamster members are critical to a functioning supply chain. Our members bring groceries to store shelves; they deliver groceries to people’s homes; they deliver UPS packages containing critical supplies and medicine to homes and businesses; they work in health care and law enforcement; they work in sanitation – just to name a few of the essential industries in which our members are employed. For every day that goes by without a lockdown order, these hardworking members who keep our society running are put at greater and greater risk.
Nothing is more important to me than protecting my members and their families’ safety. If we want them to continue to perform their jobs and keep our society functioning, we need them to be healthy. And we have already seen in other cities, states, and countries that one of the best ways to keep people healthy is to implement a lockdown and prevent any and all unnecessary interactions between people. It is completely unacceptable that you are refusing to take this step.
I have supported you because I believed it was in the interests of the Labor community to support politicians that at least appear to care about our issues. However, in this moment of crisis, it no longer matters what you say – the only thing that matters is what actions you take. And by refusing to protect our members with a lockdown order, you are demonstrating exactly how little working people mean to you.
This is a time of crisis, where every minute counts. If you care at all about working people and their health and safety, you need to institute a lockdown/shelter-in-place order immediately. All eyes are on you right now, and they are all looking for leadership. As a young man growing up, my military father always preached to me that you can either lead, follow or get the hell out of the way. What choice will you make?
On behalf of Teamster Members,
Secretary-Treasurer, Teamsters Local 174
President, Joint Council 28
Members of Local 231:
Staff at Teamsters Local 231 are here for you during this pandemic.
As more and more people are diagnosed with COVID-19, we are here to help our members get through the COVID-19 Pandemic. We are working hard to keep our staff and members safe by following the guides of the CDC and using social distancing, telecommuting and limiting our contacts with members to over the phone and email communication.
We know that our members have many concerns right now and we are working with our elected officials so that our communities can stay safe and working people have the tools that they need to take care of their families during this uncertain time. Many of you have questions about your jobs, your financial future, taking care of your family and other resources that are available. Below we have listed currently available resources to help ease some of your fears and questions. As this situation is ever evolving, we do not have all the answers to every question today. However, we will continue to post updates as we get them, and we will continue our efforts to ensure that our members are taken care of.
Many of our industries are experiencing a downturn as people begin to isolate themselves at home. Many of these industries will introduce layoffs as their volumes continue to fall. However, our members are covered by Collective Bargaining Agreements and they have rights that nonunion workers do not have. If you are concerned that your industry may be one where layoffs will occur, review your contract language to see what rights you have in terms of seniority and recall rights for when the pandemic passes.
You may also want to call or email your Business Agent and discuss with them the rights you have in your Teamster contract.
You may also be eligible for unemployment benefits depending on the exact circumstances leading to you being off work.Click here for a flyer that was put together by the Employment Security Department to determine if you qualify. If you need help filing for unemployment benefits, see this flyer describing the process of filing for benefits in Washington.
As for school closures, note that the Washington State Paid Sick Leave law does allow you to use any leave accrued under it if your child’s school or place of care is closed for a health-related reason. Additionally, the State and the various School Districts are scrambling to find solutions for families needing childcare. We will keep you all informed if we hear of any new developments.
Current CDC guidelines are to self-isolate if you begin showing symptoms of the disease, and to seek medical attention right away if your illness worsens or if you have trouble breathing. Call ahead to medical professionals and let them know you may have COVID-19 so that appropriate precautions can be taken. And remember, if you are covered by any of the Washington Teamsters Welfare Trust health plans, you have access to Teladoc, which can be a great resource when we are all doing our best to stay out of public areas where sick people congregate!
Although access to our physical office is limited to staff only at this time, Teamsters Local 231 is still open, and we are still serving our members – even if it’s over the phone or by email. While we made the decision to cancel some of our upcoming events, we will continue to keep you all informed and educated on what your Union is doing. If you have questions or concerns, please call your Business Representative at 360-734-7780. Be sure to leave a voicemail if they are not available when you call and you will get a return call as soon as possible.
Together, we will get through this pandemic.
The Leadership and Staff of Teamsters Local 231