Hardship Committee FAQ

 8778986570_995667061b_o

The Hardship Committee strongly felt that transparency and member education were integral to properly administering the Hardship Fund. Below are answers to questions that members had about how funds were calculated, distributed, and processed. If members had any additional questions they were welcome to contact the Application Team during their office hours or send an email.

 

Exactly how much is available to cover hardship needs?

The Hardship Committee started with a set amount that has been allocated strictly for hardship needs, and will have access to additional union discretionary funds. The discretionary funds have a lot of purposes (activism-related expenses, food for meetings, space rental, etc.) but the hardship committee will make a request for additional funds if necessary. The Hardship Committee will advise the membership of any requests made for additional funds.


How do I apply for Hardship funds?

Please review the Hardship Fund Application. Statements reflecting current account balances and supporting documents for expenses over $500 (bills, account records, etc.) are required with applications. If such documentation is not attached to the application, applicants need to provide an explanation as to why it is not attached. (Example: I am a month-to-month tenant, I do not have a lease, and do not receive rent receipts.) A lot of information is requested and applicants are encouraged but not required to work with the Application Team of the committee to make sure applications are complete. The Application Team will pass applications to the Processing Team, who will redact it and pass it along to the Decisions Team for blind review. The Processing Team will let applicants know the result of the decision and distribute checks if appropriate.


Where do I submit my application?

Applications can only be submitted in person to the Application Team during their office hours at the union office. Application Team hours are:
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday 11am – 2pm
Thursday 10am -4pm


What if I have more questions or need help?

The Hardship Committee is committed to helping members apply for funds. Come to the Application Team office hours to ask questions (see above for office hours).


How long will it take to get my money?

The committee will consider applications received by Wednesday of each week. Checks will be available on Thursday of the following week.


How will I receive my check?

Applicants can choose one of the following 3 options: by mail, in person, or from a strike captain. The Processing Team will be available to give out checks to members in person at the union office.


Can I apply in advance of the due date for my bill?

Yes, people are encouraged to plan for their bills and apply in the correct cycle to avoid emergency applications. In addition, please keep in mind that the Decisions Team is looking at expenses on a monthly basis, so applicants should be careful to list all monthly bills on the application.


Are hardship funds grants or loans?

Hardship funds will be issued as loans. Loans provided from the Hardship Fund are interest-free. It is the Committee’s intention to forgive loans, and this is what was done in the 1993 strike. If loan forgiveness is not possible, repayment will begin three months after the end of the strike at an installment amount worked out between the Hardship Committee and the borrower. For your convenience, each installment may be automatically deducted from your paycheck.


What eligibility requirements are there?

Applicants must be a union member and be current on your strike work requirement or have been previously excused. There is no minimum length of employment requirement. Members must apply for student loan deferments/forbearances and are also encouraged to take steps to minimize monthly bills (deferring and reducing credit card minimums, deferring a car loan, etc.).


What kind of loans can be deferred?

A lot of loans allow you to defer payments. Applicatio Team members can help you identify which of your loans might be eligible for deferment. Come to Application Team office hours to talk to someone about this.


What bills are eligible to be covered?

The Hardship Committee recognizes that everyone’s situation is different and will do its best to meet individual members’ needs. However, there is simply not enough money to pay for all of everyone’s expenses. The Committee will use the Monthly Expenses Prioritization Table in determining how much to loan each member. Please consult the table when filling out applications and provide the Committee with the information necessary to determine how expenses meet the priorities set forth in the table. Applicants are encouraged to meet with a member of the Application Team to talk through the application and get advice about what information to include.


What about my retirement and other targeted savings?

Members do not need to dip into pension, 403(b), educational savings, or other targeted savings to access hardship funds.


What about my other savings?

The Hardship Committee is committed to protecting members' savings so that no one is left without an emergency fund at the end of the strike. Non-targeted savings of $3000 per member plus $1000 per dependent will be protected. Targeted savings are defined above; non-targeted savings is everything else. (Examples: a single parent of 3 kids would be able to protect $6000; a member with a non-dependent spouse and one child would be able to protect $4,000; a member with a dependent spouse and one child would be able to protect $5,000). Members are encouraged to apply for financial assistance if they feel they need the help. Regardless of a savings limit, the committee will consider the circumstances of each member in reaching a decision. For example, someone may appear to have significant savings but they may also have medical expenses or a support obligation that should be considered. Savings with tax or other consequences to withdrawal will be adjusted accordingly (e.g. stocks will be discounted by 1/3 to account for tax consequences of dipping into them – so a single member with one dependent whose only savings is in stocks would be able to protect $6000 in savings held as stocks).


The application asks for information on my household – what do you mean?

Household includes spouses and live-in partners, children, and other family members. For example: if you live with someone who is not a roommate and you share expenses please provide information about your household/family budget including their income and expenses. For special circumstance or questions about this please speak with the Application Team.


Will there be individual caps?

Yes – on a monthly basis. No member will be able to receive more than their take-home LSNYC salary plus non-standard paycheck deductions (e.g. direct pay, direct deposit, and pension loan repayment) minus strike benefits and additional monthly income obtained since the strike.


How are decisions going to be made?

The committee will review each applicant’s expenses to determine the difference between household income and “high priority” expenses (see prioritization table). This is the amount the member will receive, subject to the monthly cap.


What income will be counted?

Members’ strike pay of $800 per month will not be counted against monthly expenses, though strike pay will still be figured into the determination of the monthly cap (cap = pre-strike net salary less strike pay). Net income from other household members will be counted when determining the hardship award. For July hardship applications (considered after our return to work on 6/25), half of one pre-strike net paycheck will be counted as income.


Examples of how hardship loans will be calculated:

A member lives alone and made $3000 net pre-strike. The monthly cap is $2200 ($3000-$800). Listed high-priority expenses total $2500. Savings = $1000 (so no spend-down). The hardship award is the $2200 cap (no income is counted against the expenses total of $2500, but since this is higher than the cap of $2200, the applicant will get the cap).

A member lives with her partner. The member made $2800 net pre-strike, and her partner brings in $2000 net. The monthly cap is $2000 ($2800-$800). Listed high priority expenses total $3000. Savings = $3000 (so no spend-down). The hardship award is $1000 ($3000-$2000).

A member lives with his wife and three children. The member made $3000 net pre-strike, and his wife makes $2000 net. The monthly cap is $2200 ($3000-$800). Listed high priority expenses total $5000. Savings = $7000 (protected amount = $6000, so spend-down of $1000). The hardship award is $2000 ($5000-$2000-$1000).


What about pre-strike arrears?

Following a vote by the membership, the Hardship Committee will recommend that rent and utility arrears accumulated prior to the strike be approved by the EC as non-forgivable loans.


What about my privacy?

The Hardship Committee is committed to ensuring privacy. All members of the Committee will sign confidentiality agreements before reviewing files and the Processing Team will ensure that files are redacted so that the Decisions Team does not know whose application they are reviewing. While all applications are handed into the Application Team you can give a sealed envelope to pass along to Processing.


How do I appeal if I disagree with the decision?

Appeals can be made to the EC. The EC will provide the membership with directions about how they will handle appeals.

Legal Services Staff Association, UAW/NOLSW Local 2320