District 1199C Issues Pandemic Relief from Its Pension Fund

Filed under: Featured News |

DISTRICT 1199c PRESIDENT Chris Woods explained how his union responded creatively to its members’ needs when the pandemic crisis upended their lives.

For one Philadelphia-area labor union’s members, the future may have to be now.

The past year has been a nightmare for workers as for nursing-home employers as well as for their workers. Many are small operators compared with the scale of major hospital groups and many staffers are modestly paid.

As the hazards of COVID-19 swept through their industry, these workers were buffeted economically – not so much through layoffs as by other costs associated with the recession, such as the loss of school classrooms, child care and other employment.

National Union of Hospital & Health Care Employees District 1199C, which is active in that industry in the Delaware Valley, stepped into the breech by tapping one of its chief financial instruments: its members’ future.

“Employees were suffering a lot during the pandemic,” said Eric Brooks, executive director of the union’s benefit and pension fund. “They were dealing with COVID or with quarantining, both for themselves or with family members. Job loss was a minor problem, hitting only about 200 out of our 2,200 members, but their household members were often hit hard.”

So the fund’s trustees took advantage of a provision in the CARES act by authorizing members to withdraw up to $2,000 of their retirement benefits – “not to hurt their retirement but to benefit from their retirement,” Brooks stated.

By the end of 2020, 957 District 1199C members had taken advantage of this offer, withdrawing $1.8 million in emergency money. It will not be subject to the 10% charge otherwise applied to early retirement benefit withdrawals and came with tax breaks as well.

The pension fund was valued at $51 million as of February 2021. The 27 employers that contribute to the fund send representatives to sit on its board and approved the emergency measure. Not every nursing home has pension support negotiated into its contract, however.

Chris Woods, president of District 1199C, hailed the move. “We: needed to do something and were willing to create this program to give these members relief,” he said. Our union and employer trustees should be applauded. A lot of our workers still struggle every day; the pandemic hit everyone real hard.”

The pension drawdown supplements a raft of other emergency relief measures. Philadelphia City Council mandated sick time for COVID-affected employees. Many nursing homes issued hazard pay at the peak onset of the pandemic.

The Nursing Home Pension Fund is just one piece of the organizational challenge facing District 1199C today. It represents 11,000 workers in Pennsylvania and South Jersey who serve in hospitals, prisons, longterm care and home care. This year, 30 different contracts are expiring.

Join over 3.000 visitors who are receiving our newsletter and learn how to optimize your blog for search engines, find free traffic, and monetize your website.
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.
www.pdf24.org    Send article as PDF   

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *