This video from 617Media highlights the major events of the Building Trades Employers’ Association (BTEA) sponsored Building Trades Recovery Week, held the last week of April 2019. It shined a light on substance use disorder in construction and tried to educate individuals with hands on training to move towards treatment and recovery options.
When we initially came up with the idea to host a first-ever Building Trades Recovery Week, we knew we were doing something historic — taking on a crisis that many have shied away from and few industries have addressed publicly. But we knew we had to step forward.
We must shine a light on this epidemic, which disproportionately affects the construction industry. Our workers are six times more likely to die from opioid overdose than any others in Massachusetts; 150 workers per 100,000 die from overdoses annually.
It’s important to let our peers know that it’s OK to ask for help. Addiction can happen to anyone — any worker, any family, and on any worksite. Construction is one of the most dangerous jobs, and many are prescribed prescription painkillers to cope with injury and everyday wear and tear. Many are prescribed opiate painkillers and due to the addictive nature of the medication, many find themselves struggling to cease usage after the injury subsides.
Addiction can leave a person feeling ashamed and helpless. So it’s crucial to show those workers that there are great lives — and careers — ahead of them once they get treatment.
We were overwhelmed with the positive response that Recovery Week received from across the industry. Sponsors from more than 12 New England contractor associations and 13 trades came together in solidarity with their workers. Together we worked to increase awareness and understanding of substance use and abuse, educate participants on how to recognize substance use on the job-site, reduce the stigma surrounding the opioid crisis and encourage workers to seek help when needed.
Forward-thinking contractors such as Karas & Karas Glass, Lee Kennedy Co, McCusker Gill, and Worcester Air Conditioning have committed to solutions – such as keeping Narcan on hand, in their fabrication shops and on all their jobsites to save lives in the event of an overdose.
The conference featured a number of inspiring speakers, including Congressman Stephen Lynch, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, Charlestown Rep. Daniel Ryan, former Celtics player Chris Herren, BTEA’s Director of Labor Relations, Thomas S. Gunning, Harvard/MGH’s Dr. Gregory Acampora, John MaGahan of the Gavin Foundation, Frank Callahan of the MBTC, President & CEO of Modern Assistance Programs John Christian, and many more — all who offered a unique perspective on the subject of opioids and substance use.
The week culminated in a 150-second job site stand down to honor the 150 opioid-related deaths per 100,000 workers in Massachusetts annually. At two large worksites: M Block in the Seaport District and Lee Kennedy’s HOOD plant project in Charlestown, hundreds of workers and contractors came together, supported by Mayor Martin J. Walsh and other allies.
The media response was incredible. From the Boston Globe and Boston Herald, to public radio, to every local TVstation in Boston, our message of hope–and real solutions–came through loud and clear.
The impact on workers’ lives was immediate. We couldn’t have imagined how many people we would touch and how quickly brave workers would step forward to acknowledge they have a problem and ask for help. For us, that is the true measure of success and we thank them.
We want to thank our sponsors and allies for helping to bring this conference to fruition.
By shining a spotlight on the opioid crisis, we are already changing, and saving, lives and we hope when we’re standing here next year during Recovery Week, we can say we made a real difference and gave someone a new beginning.
On March 26th, John Ferrante of BTEA and Jim Grosso of O’Reilly, Grosso, Gross, and Jones, P.C. hosted a webinar to explain the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Law and its effect on union construction employers.
The Thomas S. Gunning Foundation has established a scholarship program to assist employees, immediate family members of employees or immediate family of BTEA members, who plan to pursue post-secondary education in college and vocational programs. Scholarships will be offered each year for full-time study at any accredited post-secondary undergraduate institution of the student’s choice.
For many years, the BTEA has been a proud sponsor of the Paraclete. The mission of The Paraclete is to enrich the lives of young people and their communities through education.
The Paraclete is an after-school educational enrichment program for urban youth in South Boston. Students are taught to be independent advocates who take charge of their education through active pursuit of both aid and opportunities to challenge themselves. The Paraclete ensures that its students and their families can navigate the complexities of the Boston educational system and assists them with admittance to top-ranked middle and high schools. The Paraclete promotes an education of excellence that cultivates both mind and spirit.
Throughout its 21-year history, it has served more than 1,250 students from nearly 850 households – almost a third of all South Boston’s families. The Paraclete’s special approach to supporting children in their most formative years is to provide a targeted educational intervention starting at the 4th grade and providing ongoing academic support and mentoring through high school as needed.
Now, the Paraclete is proud to announce that on Thursday, February 28, 2019, it will honor Former Mayor of Boston and Ambassador Ray Flynn at its annual reception at Boston College High School. The Flynn family will receive the Paraclete’s Founders award, established in honor of Paraclete Co-Founders Sister Ann Fox and Barry T. Hynes. It is given each year to individuals who exemplify the spirit of the Paraclete and those who give of themselves to advocate for and help others. Flynn family patriarch Raymond L. Flynn has proudly represented South Boston since his early days as a Providence College basketball star. He went on to serve as the Mayor of Boston from 1984 to 1993, then served as the US Ambassador to the Vatican under President Bill Clinton.
The Boston Roofing Contractors Association of the BTEA partnered with the North/East Roofing Contractors Association to produce the video below which highlights the difficulty of working outdoors given the record high precipitation and bad weather in New England.
By now, everyone knows someone effected by the opioid epidemic. However, as construction employers, we must all pause and consider this issue as an industry.
In August, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) released a report examining opioid related deaths by industry from 2011 to 2015. The historical data available paints a dire portrait of the construction occupation in the face of the drug crisis which is surely to continue increasing as more recent data is also examined.
Across the state in this 4 year period, the DPH was able to identify 4,302 opioid related deaths for employed residents. Of these, 1,155 or 26.8% were construction workers!
These numbers are staggering to consider with only agricultural worker and fishermen even coming close to the rate at which construction workers are dying.
Now, obviously, these rates are probably less in the union building trades, but nevertheless a breakdown of deaths by the trade reveals that the worst 3 trades for opioid related deaths are represented by the BTEA, Laborers (34%), Carpenters (18%) and Painters (8%).
Currently, the BTEA is considering ways in which to raise awareness of these issues and inform our employers and their employees of the dangers of opioids and how to get help.
Below is a copy of the report. Please read it and consider what you can do to help!
In 2017, Massachusetts created the Health Insurance Responsibility Disclosure (HIRD) form that employers with six or more employees must submit annually starting November 30.
The Department of Revenue guidance provides that any employer who has or had six or more employees in any month during the preceding twelve months will be required to complete the HIRD form annually. The form is designed to collect information relating to an employer’s health insurance offerings and help DOR identify MassHealth enrollees with access to qualifying employer-sponsored insurance who may be eligible for the MassHealth Premium Assistance Program.
This newsletter has previously discussed the Employer Medical Assistance Contribution (EMAC) fees being charged to employers if their employees enroll in the MassHealth program. Recently, the Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) finalized regulations allowing a hardship exemption from the fines for employers who are either: (1) suffering a financial hardship such that payment of the assessment is likely to result in closure of the business or a significant loss of employment; (2) subject to multiple assessments in a year; or (3) facing a significant employee turnover rate.
Employers must file their HIRD forms by November 30, 2018 and each year on November 30th. In order to comply with the reporting requirement, employers must submit the HIRD form through the MassTaxConnect (MTC) web portal. If an employer uses a payroll company to file tax information on the MTC, the HIRD form may be filed by either the employer or the payroll company. However, employers are responsible to ensure that the HIRD form is filed.
We have also heard that union employers are being assessed the EMAC fines as a result of employees not being covered by union healthcare plans until they have achieved the required hourly threshold. After some digging, we have found that a form may be filed by employers if they are incorrectly assessed these penalties despite offering union health benefits.
Below is a form for employers to download and submit upon receiving their quarterly EMAC fines. We encourage our employers to file it along with a letter from the union benefit funds stating that contributions are being made for the employee.