Business Manager’s Message
Valentino B. Ceria
Earlier in September I had a video of my Business Manager’s Report on our website for your viewing since we needed to cancel the September 2020 General Membership Meeting on Oahu and the neighbor island rap sessions. This is because of safety measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With the State’s mandate of no more than five people for gatherings and closure of the Washington Middle School Cafeteria location as well as some of the neighbor island rap session location restrictions, I opted to have my Business Manager’s Report on video for a membership update on the current Union events.
This year, we all took a hit from the COVID-19 pandemic like a wrecking ball into our lives and the economy. Our way of life has changed forever. According to the United Association, “In the midst of COVID-19, health and safety must be our highest priority. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, cdc.gov, remains the go-to resource for information regarding infection prevention, disease detection (testing), and critical guidelines for medical attention.” The United Association’s website as well as our own plumbershawaii.com website has good information that we all can use for work and in our daily lives. We have been updating our website as we get new information.
In June, we gave out personal protective equipment kits – masks, hand sanitizers, and gloves, to our members for your safety. The State of Hawaii has classified us as “essential workers” and we continue to employ most of our workers on the job, contributing for the most part to be a driving force in Hawaii’s economy. Just a note that we are in the process of having face masks and neck gaiters made with the Local 675 logo. The colors of our face masks and the neck gaiters are black and blue. We will be mailing it out to each member in October. Please make sure we have your most current address. As a reminder, I ask that if you are out there working, please follow all workplace protocols and safety guidelines to keep yourself and others protected.
For the months of April, May, June, and July, the UA mandated that local unions cover the fixed monthly dues ($31.00) of all nonretired members who performed 40 or fewer hours of UA work in the previous calendar month. For those who qualified according to our records, credit has already been applied to your account. If you have further questions regarding your monthly union dues credit, you can call the Union Office (536-5454, ext. 222) and speak with Jenny Lee.
As you may know, the fiscal year for our Benefits Trust Funds ended on July 31, 2020. Last year the Union and Management Trustees made important changes to our Pension Plan in order to keep the funds stable and out of the yellow or red zones and to help strengthen our financial position to maintain and eventually improve future Pension benefits.
Unfortunately, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the stock market took a significant drop affecting our Pension investments which we were not able to recover fully by the July 31st fiscal year end. Adding to the setback was fewer work hours reported from March 2020 to the end of the fiscal year due to COVID-19, which affected the lowered Pension contributions. These two significant events have put the Trustees into a position to set the Pension Benefit Unit Dollar value at $48 for the 2020 plan year only. But know that the Benefit Unit Dollar Values you have already earned for past years will remain unaffected. The Benefit Unit Dollar Values are reevaluated every year. If we did not do this now, our plan could have required additional plan changes which we are trying to avoid. In spite of this needed change, we were able to enhance the Annuity benefits to better balance our retirement income by adding the previously negotiated $.50 per hour to each active member’s Annuity account beginning January 2021. I ask that you please read all materials sent out to you from the Trust Fund Office. A 4th video has been created concerning the Pension Plan changes. You can view the video at www.pamcah-ualocal675-pension.com. This website is included in the mailer sent out to each member.
On August 8th, I met with the Finance Committee and discussed the Union’s Income and Expenditures for the current and previous months, and any questions they may have had. I would like to thank the Finance Committee who have been meeting every month this year to review the month’s checks, income and expenses. They reported that they have reviewed the finances and found the reports to be in order.
The Executive Board met on August 17, 2020, with Gary Miyashiro of MC Group Hawaii, the accounting firm who completed the 2019 Local 675 financial audit and Form 990. The reports indicated that all financials were in order with no significant findings. The Executive Board reviewed the reports, asked pertinent questions, and then approved the financial audit for 2019.
Politically, our efforts paid off with a Primary Election win to a General Election run-off for Keith Amemiya for Mayor of Honolulu City and County. We supported Keith Amemiya for Mayor early in the race because we believed he could make a difference in our city, especially now when trustworthy leadership is badly needed. Keith Amemiya’s accomplishments, experience, character, and his ability to work well with others are assets needed to serve as Mayor with our people’s best interests at heart. We were happy to assist with the media and in the community-based campaign by sign-waving in Kaneohe early in July and at the state capitol in August before the primary results. We also want to commend Mitch Roth on the Big Island for his big win in the Primary going into the General Election run-off for Mayor. We believe Mitch Roth will be good for the Big Island with some of the many issues currently going on there. With these important wins as well as the other primary victory endorsements from Local 675, we will once again need your support with a vote in the November 3rd General Election. Please see our General Election endorsements section in this newsletter. If you have not yet registered to vote, you can still go online at www.elections.hawaii.gov and register by October 5, 2020. All ballots should be delivered by October 16th. Be sure to vote early by mailing your ballots or at drop off sites.
Congratulations also to the recipients of the Union’s Local 675 Imi Loa Foundation Scholarships. The deserving scholars are highlighted in this issue. We are also proud of the three recipients who were awarded the United Association scholarships as well.
On another note, cautioning on the safe side along with other labor unions, the Hawaii Building and Construction Trades Council decided not to hold the Labor Unity Picnic this year. The General Membership Meetings for the months of September and October were cancelled as well as the rap sessions on the neighbor islands. It was decided to also cancel the Oahu and Neighbor Island Holiday dinners usually held in December. We will keep you informed of all other meetings and/or cancellations. We are saddened about this but keeping everyone safe is our priority. Especially now with everything going on, we need to stick together, remain strong, and stay healthy. I want to thank you our Members and our signatory contractors for enduring, managing, and working together in this trying time to keep everyone safe. Please take care and be safe. Also remember the flu shot is now available.
Mahalo and Aloha!