HEALTH CARE WORKER BONUS UPDATE
DC 37 fought to create a fund for essential pay for members on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic. The New York State Health Care and Mental Hygiene Worker Bonus covers the vesting period from Oct. 1, 2021 to Mar. 31, 2024. The program pays bonuses of up to $3,000 to eligible full and part-time employees, temporary and contracted workers. Read more about the bonus program HERE.
In the submission for the first vesting period of the NYS Health Care Worker bonus, over 10,000 DC 37 members were included in the reporting to the State. This includes Mayoral Agencies and NYC Health and Hospitals, EMS workers, School Nurses, Social Workers, Patient Care Associates and a number of titles involved in direct patient care. The first vesting period covered the time period Oct. 1, 2021 to Mar. 31, 2022. The second vesting period covers April 1, 2022 to Sept. 30, 2022. We are aware that some employees may have been missed in the first vesting period and therefore the employers will submit their names, if eligible, during the next submission period which opens on Oct. 1.
If you believe your work was involved in direct patient care and did not receive an attestation letter from your employer, please contact your HR department first, and then your union representative. The program continues until Mar. 31, 2024, with a maximum of two vesting periods per eligible employee.
Employers must submit an application on behalf of eligible employees. Bonuses will be paid in December 2022. For program details, contact the Health Care Worker Bonus (HWB) Call Center at 866-682-0077.
The state has indicated that the program will expand to certain limited titles in the Education sector that deals with Medicaid in October.
DC 37 will continue fighting at the bargaining table for essential pay for all members who have continuously worked during the pandemic.
MAKE A PLAN TO VOTE
DC 37 members deserve to have a say in this year’s mid-term elections! Please support our union endorsed candidates in the Nov. 8 General Election for Governor, State Senate, State Assembly, and U.S. House of Representatives. The DC 37 membership is supporting a great group of candidates based on their commitment to protecting DC 37 members’ jobs and benefits. Find out which candidates DC 37 has endorsed in your area HERE.
Early voting begins Oct. 29 to Nov. 6 or vote at your polling site on Tuesday, Nov. 8. Polls are open from 6 AM to 9 PM. You can also vote by mail using an absentee ballot. The last day to submit an application to request an absentee ballot is Oct. 24. Contact 311 or 1-866-VOTE-NYC for more information about your poll site location, early voting, or requesting an absentee ballot. Stand up for your family and community by casting your vote!
Join the DC 37 Political Action Team! DC 37 needs volunteers to help get out the vote. Never volunteered before? No worries! Volunteering is easy and rewarding. We’ll make sure you have everything you need for a great experience. Sign up today, click HERE!
HEALTH and WELLNESS
COVID-19 INFORMATION, COVID-19 ADVISORY, and VACCINE MANDATE UPDATE
DC 37 is taking measures to protect members’ safety and health at work, with the Safety and Health Department compiling the latest information from the New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) on COVID-19, Monkeypox, Legionnaires’ disease, and Polio. In August, the federal government followed suit, which will increase funding and services.
DC 37 wants to help members stay safe during the pandemic by working together to lessen the spread of COVID-19 and its highly contagious variants. DOHMH urges people over 50 to get the latest COVID-19 vaccine booster.
COVID-19 is still present and spreading. The Health Department advises individuals to continue to take precautions to help stop the spread. For more information, visit nyc.gov/covid.
DOHMH advises individuals to continue to follow precautions and do their part to help stop the spread:
- Wear a high-quality mask indoors and in crowds outdoors
- Get vaccinated and boosted
- Get tested
- Wash your hands with soap and water frequently
- If you feel sick stay home
- If you test positive, consult your healthcare provider
For information on COVID-19 protocols for City employees, including the DCAS Commissioner Directive for Face Coverings, the COVID-19 vaccine mandate, COVID testing sites for City employees, NYS Workers’ Compensation and short-term disability, and FEMA COVID-19 burial assistance, click HERE.
The World Health Organization recently declared the Monkeypox outbreak a global health crisis. New York City is the epicenter for Monkeypox, with the highest number of cases in the U.S. Mayor Adams and Health Commissioner Ashwin Vasan declared the rise in Monkeypox transmissions in NYC a public health emergency.
Monkeypox, or Orthopoxvirus, is a rare viral disease that does not occur naturally in the U.S. Cases in this country have been associated with international travel or importation of animals from areas where the disease is more common.
Transmission is through direct contact with sores or a rash of someone infected with Monkeypox. However, the risk of exposure through intimate contact is increasing as Monkeypox can also spread by contact with bedding, clothing, and other items, as well as by respiratory droplets during face-to-face contact with someone with the virus.
Symptoms generally appear within two weeks but as long as 21 days after exposure. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches and backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and exhaustion. The most common symptoms are rashes and sores on the face, inside the mouth, hands, feet, chest, genitals, or anus.
If you are experiencing symptoms, isolate yourself immediately and consult your health care provider. If you do not have a health care provider, contact NYC H+H for services. Only a health care provider can conduct testing.
First- and second-dose appointments are now available. Walk-in vaccinations for first doses are also available at City-run sites, but we recommend you make an appointment. You can only get a second dose if you received your first dose on or before July 23. Again, you must make an appointment to get a second dose.
If you are eligible, you may make an appointment by visiting Vax4NYC.nyc.gov or by calling 877.VAX.4NYC (877.829.4692).
Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia caused by bacteria that grows in warm water. It cannot be spread or transmitted by person-to-person contact. Legionnaires’ are spread by breathing in the water vapor (mist) from cooling towers, saunas, and hot tubs. Drinking cold water from the faucet does not transmit Legionnaires’ disease.
Legionnaires’ cause flu-like symptoms, including fever, chills, muscle aches, or cough. Complications from the disease can result in fatalities. There is no vaccine available, but symptoms can be treated with antibiotics. Prevention is promoted by appropriate maintenance and treatment of water towers.
Individuals 50 and older, smokers, people with chronic lung disease, a weakened immune system, or who take medicines that weaken the immune system have an increased risk of contracting Legionnaires’ disease.
A recent outbreak in Highbridge, Bronx, ended on June 24. It resulted in two fatalities and 24 cases of Legionnaires’.
In August 2022, health officials found poliovirus in NYC sewage samples. This followed a case of paralytic Polio identified in Rockland County in July. Officials are investigating the virus’ positive case and potential ongoing spread in several upstate counties and the NYC area. There have not yet been any identified cases in the city.
Polio (poliomyelitis) is a highly contagious viral infection caused by an enterovirus. It is characterized by paralysis or weakness in the arms, legs, or both. Getting yourself and your children vaccinated is the best protection to avoid polio. Children ages 4 years and older can get low- or no-cost vaccines at the Immunization Clinic at the Fort Greene Health Center.
Fully vaccinated adults probably do not need a booster at this time. However, vaccinated adults at increased risk of exposure to poliovirus should talk to their health care provider about whether they may need a booster.
FREE FLU SHOTS for CITY EMPLOYEES
The City and its unions offer free flu shots to municipal employees and their families. All employees, dependents, and pre-Medicare retirees eligible for New York City health benefits are covered to receive a flu vaccination at no-cost. For more information, and to book your flu shot at a WorkWell NYC clinic, visit on.nyc.gov/wwnycflu.
DC 37 COMMITTEE EVENTS
All District Council 37 Committees have resumed monthly virtual meetings. Please check the meeting schedule in Upcoming Events at www.dc37.net.
DC 37 LATINO HERITAGE VIRTUAL FINALE, SEPT. 30
The DC 37 Latino Heritage Committee invites you to attend their Latino Heritage Month Finale on Friday, Sept. 30, at 6 PM on Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85799384110?pwd=OUxqWkJBUitMa2g5YXYySWRBdGlaUT09 Meeting ID: 857 9938 4110 Passcode: 673662
DC 37 DENTAL CENTER
The newly renovated DC 37 Dental Center at 115 Chambers Street in Lower Manhattan is a 30-seat facility that offers advanced dental and periodontal care and full-service dental care to members, retirees, and their dependents. The center accepts appointments Mon. to Fri., 8 AM to 6 PM and Sat., 8 AM to 5 PM. To schedule a visit, please call 212-766-4440.
OCTOBER is MSK BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH
DID YOU KNOW? Mammograms have helped lower the number of people who died from breast cancer in the United States by 40%!
WHAT IS BREAST CANCER SCREENING? Breast cancer screening exams are designed to identify cancer at early stages when it is more easily and successfully treated. MSK’s breast imaging experts recommend the following guidelines to save the most lives.
WHEN SHOULD YOU BE SCREENED?
Women age 25 and older:
- Practice breast self-awareness.
- Begin yearly clinical breast exams by a doctor.
Women age 40 and older:
- Begin yearly mammograms.
- Ultrasound may be recommended for women with dense breast tissue.
Women with a family history of breast cancer:
- Begin yearly imaging exams ten years before the age of the earliest diagnosis in your immediate family, but not earlier than age 25 or later than age 40.
- Consider additional screening exams.
Men Can Get Breast Cancer too! The most common risk factors associated with male breast cancer are age, exposure to higher levels of the hormone estrogen relative to the male hormone androgen, radiation, and a family history of female or male breast cancer. Some men have an increased risk of breast cancer because of genetic mutations, such as in the BRCA genes. For those men, we recommend starting self-exams at age 35.
Talk to your doctor if you have any questions about when you should start having mammograms. If you think you are at increased risk for breast cancer, make an appointment to see one of our specialists or click HERE for more breast cancer and health information.
DC 37 and Memorial Sloan Kettering have partnered to help union members screen for cancer, and receive care from the esteemed professionals at MSK. Through MSK Direct, you can get personalized screening recommendations and tips on lowering your cancer risk HERE. Additional resources are available on DC 37’s dedicated MSK Direct webpage. If you or a family member are impacted by cancer and want to discuss treatment options, please visit the MSK webpage or call 833-786-3365.
UPDATE: BIDEN CANCELS UP to $20K in STUDENT LOAN DEBT and EXTENDS FORBEARANCE to JAN. 1, 2023
President Joe Biden announced on Aug. 24 an income-based student debt relief program that forgives up to $20,000 in student loan debt. He also extended the CARES Act student loan forbearance through Jan. 1, 2023.
The U.S. Department of Education will forgive up to $20,000 in outstanding student debt for borrowers who received Pell Grants and up to $10,000 in student debt for those who did not receive Pell Grants. Loan forgiveness will not be treated as taxable income.
Individuals who earn less than $125,000 and couples who earn up to $250,000, in years 2020 and 2021 only, qualify for student debt relief. The U.S. Department of Education has income information on file for about 8 million borrowers who may qualify to have their college debts canceled automatically. Other borrowers will have to apply using a new, simplified application on the Department of Education’s website that should be ready to accept applications for student debt relief in December 2022. For more details click HERE.
The pause on direct student loan payments, interest accrual and collection activity on direct student loans in default will remain in place through Jan. 1, 2023, when payments will resume. The administration indicated this would be the final payment pause extension.
Members with questions about the extension and the student loan forgiveness program are encouraged to contact the DC 37 MELS Screening and Intake office at 212-815-1111 to speak with an attorney.
STUDENT LOAN FORGIVENESS TEMPORARY WAIVER EXPIRES OCT. 31
PUBLIC SERVICE LOAN FORGIVENESS TEMPORARY WAIVER
On Oct. 6, 2021, the U.S. Department of Education temporarily waived a number of the requirements borrowers who qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) must meet. The waiver period expires Oct. 31, 2022. Required steps must be completed before that date to take advantage of the benefits of the waiver.
To take advantage of the temporary waiver (see below), borrowers who are employed full-time in public service who have indirect student loans (FFEL; Perkins) or who have been in repayment on non-qualifying repayment plans, or both, must consolidate their indirect loans, select an income-driven repayment plan, and submit the PSLF Employer Certification form by Oct. 31, 2022. Doing so will allow the borrower to receive credit for prior payments made toward PSLF on non-qualifying repayment plans.
WAIVER of the QUALIFYING REPAYMENT PLAN RULE
Under the traditional rules, to qualify for PSLF a borrower working full-time in qualified employment was required to make 120 payments toward their direct federal student loan debt pursuant to one of the four income-driven repayment (IDR) plan options: PAYE, RE-PAYE, Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment. Borrower’s switching to a qualifying plan received no credit for their prior payments. During the waiver period, prior payments made on non-qualifying plans will count toward the required 120 PSLF payments provided borrowers complete the steps set forth above before the deadline.
BORROWERS with FFEL and PERKINS LOANS
Borrowers with FFEL and Perkins loans (indirect loans) have an improved pathway to PSLF. Under the traditional rules, only direct federal student loans qualify for PSLF. Borrowers with FFEL loans and Perkins loans had to consolidate to a direct consolidated federal loan to qualify for PSLF. Payments made before consolidation did not count toward PSLF. During the waiver period, borrowers must still consolidate. However, provided a borrower consolidates during the waiver period and switches to a qualifying IDR plan, payments made before consolidation will count toward PSLF.
For information on the appropriate steps, affected members and their eligible family members can call MELS at 212-815-1111 to speak with an attorney.
U.S. CITIZENSHIP SEMINAR, NOV. 2
Interested in becoming a United States citizen? Learn about the benefits of becoming U.S. citizen at a virtual presentation by the DC 37 Municipal Employees Legal Services (MELS), 32BJ SEIU Legal Services Fund, CUNY’s Citizenship Now! and the Emerald Isle Immigration Center at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 2, on Zoom.
CHILD CARE SUBSIDIES ARE AVAILABLE
The income thresholds for Child Care Facilitated Enrollment have increased to 300% of Federal Poverty Levels (FPL) and now have much lower co-pays. The increase means more DC 37 members may be eligible for subsidized day care programs for working families in New York City and Long Island.
The increased FPL for the Child Care Facilitated Enrollment Project is retroactive to April. On June 1, the cap on parental co-pays was lowered to one percent from 10% of a family’s income over the FPL.
Families can view an updated fact sheet with the new income thresholds on DC 37’s website: https://www.dc37.net/about/services/childcare_subsidies. NYC residents can apply here: https://www.cwenet.net/nysfe-1. Program details and a website for Long Island residents are forthcoming.
PAID FAMILY LEAVE BENEFIT
The New York State Paid Family Leave benefit is 12 weeks. The maximum weekly paid benefit is $971.61 or $1,943 bi-weekly. This union-negotiated benefit is available to nearly all DC 37 members, including members in the six nonprofit and private sector locals. For details about the PFL benefit, please contact your union representative. To access the 2022 PFL benefits calculator, visit: https://paidfamilyleave.ny.gov/PFLbenefitscalculator2022. For information on childcare and other programs for New York City residents, click HERE.
DC 37 EDUCATION FUND
REGISTRATION for FALL SEMESTER IS STILL OPEN
Registration for the FALL 2022 semester with the Education Fund is now available on the DC 37 website. Many classes are still accepting applications. For more information on classes still accepting applications, current schedules or to register for a program, click HERE.
DC 37 EDUCATION FUND PROVIDES FREE SOCIAL WORKER WORKSHOPS FOR LOCAL 768 MEMBERS
The District Council 37 Education Fund, in conjunction with the National Association of Social Workers, New York City Chapter plans to host five (5) continuing education workshop between October to December for eligible Local 768 licensed Social Workers. These workshop are:
* Covert Threat: Problem Gambling Among US Veterans (2 CE) – Thurs., Oct. 27, from 7 to 9 PM (Registration deadline is Oct. 12)
* Introduction to the Basics of EMDR (1.5 CE) – Mon., Nov. 7, from 7 to 8:30 PM (Registration deadline is Oct. 17)
* Bridge to Peace: Gun Violence and Community Based Solutions (2 CE) – Tues., Nov. 22, from 7 to 9 PM (Registration deadline is Oct. 28)
* Making the Tough Call: Legal & Ethical Issues Related to the Social Worker’s Decision to Report Suspected Child Maltreatment (2 CE) – Tues., Dec. 6, from 7 to 9 PM (Registration deadline is Nov. 14)
* Exposure Therapy (ET): Facing Your Fears Step by Step (3 CE) – Thurs., Dec. 15 from 6 to 9 PM (Registration deadline is Nov 23)
Workshops will be held online. If you are interested in attending a workshop, use the link below to complete the online application:
October Workshop: www.dc37edfund.org/socialworkoct2022
November Workshops: www.dc37edfund.org/socialworknov2022
December Workshops: www.dc37edfund.org/socialworkdec2022
EDUCATION AND CAREER COUNSELING
Do you need guidance selecting a class from our offerings, updating a resume or need assistance reaching a career or educational goal? To contact an Ed Fund counselor, click HERE to schedule a virtual appointment.
RESUME WRITING AND INTERVIEW TECHNIQUES WORKSHOPS
Do you need to update your Resume or improve your Interviewing Skills? Apply for the two session Resume Writing and/or Interview Skills Workshop offered in October. Following the workshops, each student will have an individual appointment with the instructor. Click HERE to apply for Resume Writing and HERE to apply for Interview Techniques.
CUNY COUNSELING IS HERE FOR YOU!
This is the ideal time to plan for FALL 2022 enrollment at the CUNY college of your choice. Let Worker Education at the CUNY School of Labor & Urban Studies (SLU) help guide you through the process of finding the best CUNY program to match your education and career goals.
Expert advisors offer FREE one-on-one phone sessions on: academic requirements for specific jobs; choosing a CUNY campus and major; applying to and financing a CUNY degree; certificate and non-credit options at CUNY, transferring previous credits, and more. Each session is free and catered to your specific goals and needs.
UPDATE: THE GED IS BACK!
Since January 2022, the High School Equivalency exam is the GED again. However, there are changes to the exam and how you schedule your test. There are four subtests. In addition to Mathematical Reasoning, Social Studies, and Science, Reading and Writing are combined in a subtest called Reasoning Through Language Arts. The good news is that passing scores from the tests taken between 2002 and 2021 count towards earning your diploma.
The main change is you must create your own GED account to schedule an exam. Information about the GED exam can be found at www.ged.com. The exams are primarily offered online and must be taken at an official GED testing center. DC 37 offers prep classes for eligible members online, in person and hybrid through our partner colleges.
RETIREES EDUCATION COURSES FOR FALL
The Ed Fund is accepting applications for online classes for the FALL 2022 cycle. Apply online HERE or visit: https://www.dc37.net/benefits/education/deptclasses/retirees. Or you can print and mail the application to the address indicated. For questions, please contact Manuel Gomez-Rosa at email@example.com or call 212-815-1700.
STAY in TOUCH with DC 37
It’s important to stay in touch with your union. Read the latest quarterly edition of PEPtalk magazine arriving soon in your mailbox digitally or by USPS. Prefer to receive the digital version of PEPtalk (formerly the Public Employee Press)? Click HERE to sign up. Visit our website, DC37.net. Connect on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @dc37nyc.