I wanted to give you an update of our efforts in our fight of the Proposed Schedule Loss of Use Guidelines. The Workers Compensation Board has issued new guidelines which though not perfect are far more reasonable than the ones being pushed by the Business Council. These new guidelines will protect Workers’ rights and will allow for awards to compensate for permanent injuries. We are still fighting the reductions in the current guidelines, as we feel it is improper to cut the benefits of injured workers in any way.
These substantial changes from the initial draft reflects the work we put in and the essential need for a unified response from labor. Without support of the Labor Unions of New York State, I doubt any changes would have been made and Awards for Permanent Impairment would have ceased to exist in all practical effect.
I am enclosing the link http://www.nyworkerscompensationalliance.org/ProtectInjuredWorkers-2/ from the WCA which will give you greater detail on the new proposal as well as what was undertaken here. We are also trying to keep the pressure on the Workers Compensation Board. This is important, as we do not want to concede ANY benefit cuts and we are sure that the NYS Business Council is doing what they can to fight this current proposal. These improvements would not have been possible without your support. Thank you for all that you have done to help preserve benefits for injured workers.
Mark S. Polsky
Polsky, Shouldice & Rosen, P.C.
500 Merrick Road
Rockville Centre, NY 11570
Earlier this month, US DOT updated its drug testing regulations. These changes take effect January 1, 2018 and apply to all transportation workers –aviation, transit, rail – who are already subject to federal DOT drug tests.
With this update, DOT has expanded the types of drugs it tests for. Beginning January 1st, you will be tested for four additional drugs, specifically semi-synthetic opioids: hydrocodone, oxycodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone. These semi-synthetic opioids are sold under brand names such as OxyContin, Percodan, Percocet, Vicodin, Lortab, Norco, Dilaudid, and Exalgo, etc. When the changes take effect, DOT drug tests will screen for the use of these drugs:
Marijuana; Hydromorphone; Amphetamine; Cocaine; Oxycodone; Methamphetamine; Codeine; Oxymorphone ; MDMA/MDA; Morphine; 6-Acetylmorphine; Hydrocodone; and Phencyclidine
Under the existing DOT drug testing process, Medical Review Officers (MROs) determine whether there is a legitimate medical explanation for a positive test result, such as taking a legally prescribed drug. With this update, if you test positive for a semi-synthetic opioid, your MRO will downgrade your positive result to negative if you have a legally valid prescription for the drug found in your system.
There are other important things you should know about how this rule impacts you:
There is no time limit on the use of a legally valid prescription. DOT recognizes that there could be an unintended hardship on you if a MRO was able to deny a prescription from being a legitimate medical explanation simply because it took you a longer time to finish taking the drug than expected. As a result, there’s no cutoff date after which the prescription for a drug you’re taking can’t serve as an explanation for a positive result.
MROs cannot deny your prescription from acting as a legitimate medical explanation for a positive test result simply because they believe your doctor should not have prescribed you that medication. But, MROs must review and take all reasonable steps to verify the authenticity of the records you provide, and may contact your doctor for further information to verify your prescription.
Before this rule, MROs were required to report to DOT and employers drug tests results and worker medication information if the MRO believed the information would cause the worker to be medically disqualified or pose a safety risk. Under this rule, before the MRO reports information about your prescription drugs to DOT or employer, the MRO must give you five business days to ask your doctor to call the MRO and determine if the medication can be changed to one that does not pose a significant safety risk. If the MRO determines a medical qualification or safety risk still remains, the MRO will report information about the drugs you’re taking.
Remember that while some state laws allow marijuana use, it is still prohibited by US DOT. If you test positive for marijuana, no prescription can downgrade your positive result to negative.
- You can view the US DOT update here: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2017-11-13/pdf/2017-24397.pdf
As we look back at a year full of negotiations, rally's and a constantly changing workplace, it is time for us to look back and reflect on what we should be thankful for. The year has been a trying time for all, especially for our Brothers and Sisters in Puerto Rico, who are slowly rebuilding their lives, and our thoughts and prayers go out to them all.
Take this time to relax, enjoy your family and friends as we look ahead to the future.
On behalf of the Executive Board of Local 501, I would like to thank our members for your patience and continued support and wish you and your families a very Happy Thanksgiving.
Sisters and Brother's,
This notice is to inform our membership that effective November 30, 2017 our (SJU) Executive 3rd Vice President, Luis R. Valcourt will be resigning from his position. The resignation of Brother Valcourt is due to health issues he has been battling with for the last two years. Luis want's the membership to know that he wishes nothing but the best for his station (SJU) and his TWU Local 501.
As an Executive Board Member for the last five years Luis stated they were the most challenging years at American for him, but the best years of his career. Brother Valcourt can resign with pride as the years he served the membership as the Local Ranking Union Official of SJU helped produce recalls to the Island, the Change of Shift Policy, New Equipment and better Working Conditions with respect and integrity.
Our Administration wishes Luis all the best and thank him for all of the hard work he put into serving the members of Air Transport, Local 501.
With the void that Brother Valcourt leaves behind our Executive Board will have to figure out how to continue to serve the SJU membership with a strong representation team.
Victor J. Gonzalez