I hope this finds you and your loved ones healthy during these troubling times.
As I am sure you are realizing, the downturn of many businesses across the nation due to the Covid-19 pandemic has also affected MSA and many of MSA’s customers.
MSA approached the union asking for their assistance in light of MSA’s downturn in business due to Covid-19. We understood and agreed to the payout set forth by MSA with the stipulation that all handlers would be able to use their 2019 accrued PTO as vacation time NOW. We encourage you to use your earned 2019 PTO time in the upcoming months.
Please keep your family healthy and safe and please wear a mask.
At this most holy time of the year we are asking all of you to heed the warnings. Stay at home and wear a mask or face covering when going out. Please keep yourselves and your families safe from this unprecedented sickness that is tearing through our neighborhoods and affecting the old and young.
We hope this finds everyone and their families healthy and safe. In these extremely trying times, we are going to encourage all members who have had their hours significantly reduced or have none at all to seek unemployment benefits.
We have been in contact with MSA management who have been working extremely hard to pave the way for every member in every state to be able to keep their K-9 companion, collect their training pay, stipend, and be able to collect unemployment benefits.
For that, we thank MSA management for the time and effort it took to work this out.
On March 13th, Joe Nacarlo sent the following letter to MSA's management team:
It is our hope that everyone in MSA's and our membership's families are healthy and safe.
As we are all aware, the circumstances regarding Covid-19 are still developing. What does MSA's management have planned to keep the handlers and EDC's safe?
Also, as the various work sites close due to the health emergency, will our handlers be entitled to apply for unemployment? To many of our new handlers and former military members, MSA is their only source of income and a reduction in hours could be detrimental to their families.
We would appreciate a timely response to these very important questions.
United Federation of K-9 Handlers
Today, we received the following response:
Joe, as you mention in your note, the circumstances around Covid-19 are changing quickly, almost by the hour. We continue to monitor the situation throughout the day and night, and adjust our plans as necessary. I’ll highlight a few specific actions we have taken or plan to take:
We are continuing to reach out to clients and trying to reassure them of our ability to meet their needs, and to continue to reinforce the importance of maintaining a risk management strategy, which includes EDCH, at their sites, during these unsettled times.
We have instructed our schedulers to distribute hours among EDCH. While some clients are reducing posts due to the closing of venues or canceling of events, we are fortunate that we have a diversity of businesses which allow us to still maintain posts.
We are exploring the possibility of availing “Shared Work” Benefits to our Handlers. Similar to unemployment benefits, many large states, like CA, NY, and IL offer some form of benefits when employers have to reduce hours but do not want to lose well skilled employees. We are trying to learn more and identify what qualifies and disqualifies someone from these benefits, but we are hopeful this may be an option.
As we know more, we will continue to share. Please let me know if you have additional questions or concerns. Thanks.
You can find information about the Shared Work Program in your state at the following links: New York State California Illinois Florida Massachusetts Texas New Jersey Washington State We'll continue to be in contact with MSA regarding solutions and safety measures regarding Covid-19. In regards to the "Shared Work" program mentioned, New York State law requires that the Shared Work Plan must be approved by a collective bargaining agent (the Union). When the plan is received from MSA, we will post the pertinent details here and solicit feedback from the membership. If you have any suggestions or comments you'd like us to pass on to MSA anonymously, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I wanted to connect with you in light of the Corona Virus situation that is rapidly evolving. As the spread of the virus increases the likelihood of affecting our worksites and quite possibly our colleagues, we want to ensure that appropriate precautions are taken to maximize the safety of our members and keep an open dialogue with you.
With the postponement of all sports, concerts, theaters, and the closing of many offices throughout the nation, many of you will lose a substantial amount of hours. We are in contact with MSA to find a solution to this as quickly as possible.