Brothers and Sisters,

As our communities prepare to re-open, our top priority remains the health and safety of our members and your families. 

We’ve established new regulations and safety protocols across all our worksites in coordination with the United Association, the Massachusetts Building Trades, the Boston Building Trades, and the New England Mechanical Contractors Association. As we return to work, we’re expecting all our members to uphold these new health and safety protocols for the sake of our peers and our communities.

We might not have all the answers right now, but you have my word: all of us at Local 537 have your back, no matter what. We’ll continue to update this COVID-19 Online Resource Center daily with the latest information to support you and your family. 

Please call the Union Hall or your Business Agent if you have any questions or need assistance, or email LU537unionhall@pipefitters537.com. To receive the latest updates, I encourage you to sign up for text alerts by texting L537 to 77222 and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

We’ve built one of the strongest unions in the industry — and together, we’ll emerge from this stronger than ever.

In Solidarity,

Tom Kerr
Business Manager/Financial Secretary-Treasurer
Pipefitters Local 537
 

Watch Business Manager Tom Kerr's video update on the direct action we're taking to make sure our members and your families are protected:

Local 537 Closures & Cancellations

We have announced the following closures and cancellations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The Union Meeting and Retirees Meeting for June are canceled.
  • Union Hall meetings and events are suspended until further notice.
  • Union Hall, Funds Office, and Training Center are closed to visitors until further notice.

While the Union Hall and Training Center are physically closed, our lines of communication are open and fully operating. Please call or email the Union Hall or your Business Agent for any questions or concerns you might have.

Return to Work Guidance

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 or by using the dues dropbox, which is located at the back corner of the building on Enterprise Street. For instructions on how to make an online payment, visit: https://pipefitters537.org/members/member-portal/dues/

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.
  • 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, signed into law at the federal level on March 18, 2020. 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.

Health & Welfare Coverage

We know that the coronavirus is a health concern for everyone. We’re here to ensure you have access to uninterrupted care:
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield’s WellConnection offers urgent telehealth services for minor medical care and behavioral health concerns. Learn more here.
  • The Modern Assistance Program continues as Local 537’s sole provide of pre-authorization review for all inpatient mental health and inpatient substance admissions, including partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs for substance use and mental health. Contact them at 617-774-0331.

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 separated from work due to COVID-19 are immediately available for benefits. Review the information below, and call or email your Business Agent with questions.
  • Congress also passed a stimulus bill that includes additional relief for those collecting unemployment, including an additional $600 per week for 4 months on top of your current benefits.

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 MA Building Trades President Frank Callahan: https://bit.ly/2xgPU8H

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/3ankJ90
  • See if you qualify for UI and get more information about receiving it: https://bit.ly/2R6r4yQ

Additional Resources for Union Members

Members on the job should follow the United Association’s COVID-19 worker guidelines to maintain the highest safety standards. Wear personal protective equipment (PPE), wash your hands regularly, and maintain social distancing.

Please also review the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety’s Health Toolkit for Essential Workers: Health and Safety Protections and How to Make Them Happen: https://bit.ly/3c667fN

Click here for Greater Boston Labor Council’s COVID-19 Resource Guide, which includes key resources and up-to-date guidance on unemployment, healthcare, child care, and more.

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

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 or by using the dues dropbox, which is located at the back corner of the building on Enterprise Street. For instructions on how to make an online payment, visit: https://pipefitters537.org/members/member-portal/dues/

Go to the Massachusetts state unemployment insurance website and follow their instructions to apply online. Make sure to not list a DO NOT list a return to work date.

All Local 537 trainings, meetings, and events have been suspended until further notice. We will keep members updated about any future scheduled events, and will issue updated training schedules.

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 Agent, 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 537 staff are available via phone and email for any questions or concerns you might have. Please call us at (617) 787-5370 or call your Business Agent.