Drug Testing in the Time of COVID-19

A member posed the following question today, and it’s been echoed by several others, so we thought we’d share the guidance here.

QUESTION

Our testing site for drug testing in Indianapolis is currently closed until April 6, and we have new hires that need to be drug tested. What does ICI recommend we do? Being tested in a general clinic or urgent care facility doesn’t seem feasible with the number of patients they are seeing for the COVID-19 virus.

ANSWER

There are 2 options:

  1. Schedule a van to stop by your jobsite or office on or close to Day 1 for pre-employment urine testing. Call 765-482-2976 x 8103; or
  2. Use oral swabs.

Oral swabs offer an alternative to urine testing in a clinic. We provide 10-panel drug testing swabs in boxes/cartons of 20 or 25 swab kits at no charge to employers contributing to the ICISAT program through one or more of the Indiana Heavy and Highway agreements. We just need to know where and to whom to ship them. There are directions provided with each box of swabs, and George Sheraw (317) 634-7547 can run through the process with you, if it would be helpful.

The swabs can be used on-site and in about 10 minutes will tell the employer if the individual is negative or “non-negative.” “Non-negative” is a carefully chosen word that means while the swab appears to be positive, the final determination must be done with a 10-panel urine test at a clinic.

If one or more of your people get a “non-negative” result on their swab, then they must go to the local clinic to be urine tested to determine whether they are positive or not. The swabs pick up prescription medications, so it’s not uncommon for the swabs to look positive but in actuality end up being negative after a SAMHSA certified lab tests their urine.

One of the drawbacks to the swabs is they won’t change a employee’s card status, because they aren’t a urine test.

Craft Training Schedules

Our union partners are releasing their 2019-2020 training schedules, and we’ll update this post as we receive them.

Carpenters Newburg & Paducah 2020 Enhancement Schedule

Carpenters Merrillville 2020 Upgrade Schedule

Carpenters Lafayette 2020 Upgrade Schedule

Indiana Laborers 2019-2020 Winter Training Schedule

Operators 103 2019-2020 Apprenticeship Training Schedule

Operators 150 2019-2020 Training Catalog

Operators 181 2019-2020 Training Schedule

Operators 841 2019-2020 Training Schedule

Multiemployer Projections Show Need for Program Changes

Absent changes in law, the financial condition of PBGC’s Multiemployer Insurance Program will continue to worsen over the next 10 years. About 125 multiemployer plans covering 1.4 million people are expected to run out of money over the next 20 years. More and larger claims on the Multiemployer Program over the next few years will deplete program assets and lead to the program’s insolvency by the end of FY 2025.

Projections for FY 2028 show a wide range of potential outcomes, with an average projected negative net position of about $90 billion in future dollars ($66 billion in today’s dollars).

If the Multiemployer Program were to run out of money, current law would require PBGC to decrease guarantees to the amount that can be paid from Multiemployer Program premium income. This would result in reducing guarantees to a fraction of current values. PBGC’s guarantee is the amount of retirement benefits that PBGC insures for each participant, which is capped by law.

The President’s FY 2020 Budget contains a proposal to shore up PBGC’s Multiemployer Program. The budget proposes to create a new variable rate premium and an exit premium for the Multiemployer Program. It would raise an additional $18 billion in premium revenue over the 10-year budget window. The proposal includes a provision allowing for a waiver of the additional premium if needed to avoid increasing the insolvency risk of the most troubled plans.

AGC of America is working to make Congress aware of this problem and proposing solutions.

Contact ICI’s Director of Labor Relations George Sheraw (317) 634-7547 with questions about PBGC’s Multiemployer Program.

AGC Pension Update: Industry Letter to Congress

Source:  Email sent Aug. 13 by AGC’s Senior Director, Congressional Relations for Labor, HR and Safety James Young

As many of you know, Congress established the Joint Select Committee on Solvency of Multiemployer Pension Plans (JSC or “Committee”) to improve the solvency of multiemployer pension plans and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC). The Committee has a statutory deadline to present a legislative solution this fall. However, many details of any possible solutions can change depending on the outcome of the mid-term elections.

A concern to AGC is some members of the JSC have expanded their interest from finding a legislative solution involving a loan program for critical and declining plans to suggesting plans change discount rates from the long-term rate of return to a more conservative corporate bond rate or 30-year Treasury rates. Either change would pose many challenges to otherwise healthy plans by forcing them into red zone status, thereby requiring employer contributions to increase up to three times. None of that increase would translate to any increase in benefits for participants. There has also been discussion of massive PBGC premium increases.

Because of the threats the JSC pose to the current system, AGC—along with other construction employer associations—delivered a letter to Congress today that focuses entirely on construction employers. The letter outlines the case for composite plans; the case against investment assumption mandates (a real threat to plans viability); and the case for not raising premiums. In addition, it outlines the efforts contractors have taken for years to address funding issues and emphasizes that time is running out.  The letter also reminds everyone that both labor and key legislators agreed to actively pursue composite plans after enactment of the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act in 2014.

AGC remains fully committed to having Congress authorize the composite plan design, as outlined in the GROW Act. In addition, the association continues to play defense against bad ideas. The members of the JSC are listed below. AGC will be reaching out to Chapters and members represented by these committee members on how to engage with them between now and the election.

16 Members of Joint Select Committee on Solvency of Multiemployer Pension Plans
Senate GOP Members Senate DEM Members
Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
Lamar Alexander (R-TN) Joe Manchin (D-WV)
Rob Portman (R-OH) Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)
Mike Crapo (R-ID) Tina Smith (D-MN)
   
House GOP Members House DEM Members
Rep. Virginia Foxx  (R-NC) Richard Neal (D-MA)
Phil Roe (R-TN) Bobby Scott (D-VA)
Vern Buchanan (R-FL) Donald Norcross (D-NJ)
David Schweikert (R-AZ) Debbie Dingell (D-MI)

AGC Composite Pension Plan Update

Source: Stephen Sandherr, AGC of America

Recently, AGC participated in a media rollout of the Give Retirement Options to Workers (GROW) Act with the future bill sponsors, the NCCMP and NABTU. The GROW Act is more commonly known as composite plans and has long been an AGC priority. Below are several media stories:

Sandherr/McGarvey OpEd The time is now to ensure multiemployer pension plan security, January 9, 2018 The Hill
Bill Meant to Stabilize Union Pensions on Way in House January 9, 2018 BNA (subscription required)
Lawmakers Working to Overhaul Pension Rules, January 9, 2018 The Washington Free Beacon
Roe, Norcross Unveil Bipartisan Plan to Give Retirement Options to Workers, January 9, 2018 Press Release
The legislation could be formally introduced soon and AGC is calling on members to send letters of support to their legislators by the AGC Legislative Action Center.

Additional Background:

AGC continues to work with Congress, the Building Trades and other stakeholders in the authorization of composite plans. AGC has long viewed the plan design as being comprised of the best features of defined benefit plans and defined contribution plans. These composite plans would offer voluntary options to share risks to provide funding stability, provide lifetime income to participants and limit employer obligations to negotiated contributions only.

Composite plans were was initially proposed in the NCCMPs Solutions not Bailouts but were not included in the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014 (MPRA). Since that time AGC has led efforts to advance composite plans.

Efforts are also underway to refine proposals to save distressed plans where MPRA is not an option (including but not limited to Central States). We are working to provide credible and realistic solutions to the solvency problems of these plans which will not increase the long-term financial exposure for non-distressed plans in the multiemployer system.

More information can be found on the campaign website: Save Our Futures

Laborers Retirement Plans

Indiana Laborers have two retirement plans: one is a Defined Contribution (DC) plan, and one is a Defined Benefit (DB) plan.

The DC plan was created in 2014, and each Laborer that works under an Indiana Laborers Agreement has money contributed by their employers to this fund. Here is the Summary Annual Report from the Board of Trustees for the Indiana Laborers  Defined Contribution Trust Fund Plan.

Annually each November (or late October) a fund statement is mailed to each Laborer, telling them how much is in their account. This fund is like a 401k for each Laborer, so it’s their money, when they retire. Here is a redacted sample Statement of Individual Account.

Contractors that employ Laborers here in Indiana should be aware of this new fund, especially since many Laborers may not be aware of this additional growing retirement fund that will help fund their retirement.

In addition the Indiana Laborers also have a DB retirement fund, Indiana Laborers Pension Fund, that in 2014 was determined to be in the critical status Red Zone. In August 2017 ICI learned that this fund, is now certified to be safe (neither endangered or critical), and we are told this fund should be fully funded by 2023.