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WORKERS’ COMPENSATION BILLS STRENGTHENED: Bipartisan group supports first update to payment rates in 30 years

Several changes to legislation on Guam’s Workers’ Compensation law made in this session strengthen the first meaningful update to this important lifeline in 30 years.

“These updates to the Workers’ Compensation law mean we have bills that are better for the employees who deserve this safety net, stronger for the employers who provide this benefit, and are agreeable to a bipartisan majority of the legislature. I want to thank the stakeholders who offered these suggestions with good intentions, and my colleagues for considering them in good faith,” Senator Régine Biscoe Lee, the author of Bill No. 200-35 (COR) and Bill No. 201-35 (COR), said.

Changes to Bill No. 200-35 (COR), which seeks to update 30-year-old Workers’ Compensation rates, include:

1. Basing the minimum weekly compensation for disability to 66 and two-thirds percent of the prevailing minimum wage;
2. Basing all other minimum and maximum compensation amounts to reflect any per centum increases in the prevailing minimum wage;
3. Authorizing more than just the Guam Memorial Hospital Emergency Room to see government employees who want to file a claim with the Workers’ Compensation Commission;
4. Implementing a compromise effective date of 120 days after enactment of this law; and
5. Further adjusting the maximum weekly compensation for disability from $520 to $1,011.

“As policymakers, let’s not cheat people out of what is rightfully theirs. And if they are going to keep their livelihoods and not have their families or their lives crash because they are disabled and can’t work, let’s keep them whole,” Senator Mary Torres said during session Wednesday. “I want to be that honest, upright employer, and I pray to God that the rest of us do; so, let’s just do the right thing. This is a good bill, and I support it.”

Changes were also made to Bill No. 201-35 (COR), which updates and modernizes the process in which these claims are handled, challenged, and settled. These amendments include:

1. Imposing civil penalties, ranging between $250 to $25,000, for employers who violate the obligations required under Workers’ Compensation; and
2. Depositing civil penalties into the Guam Workers’ Compensation Special Fund.

“Every time a commission meeting is delayed by a month due to quorum issues, both sides of a Workers’ Comp. dispute have to shell out more money to keep their lawyer on the case. And that’s the fate of those fortunate enough to not run out of income in the meantime—how much worse for the employees and businesses who zero out their savings and checking accounts waiting for the government to do what’s right,” Senator Lee said.

Both Bill Nos. 200-35 (COR) and 201-35 (COR) are slated to be voted on before session adjourns.

For more information, please contact the Office of Senator Régine Biscoe Lee at (671) 472-3455 or via email at senatorbiscoelee@guamlegislature.org.

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GFT OFFICE CLOSED MONDAY, FEBRUARY 3

The GFT Office will be closed on Monday, February 3, 2020 due to cleaning and maintenance work.  We apologize for the inconvenience.  For immediate attention, please email thelma@gftunion.com or irish@gftunion.com.  Thank you for your understanding.

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SAVE THE DATE: GFT’S 13TH ANNUAL CONVENTION

GFT’s 13th Annual Convention will be held at the Hilton Guam Resort & Spa on Saturday, March 21, 2020 at 6pm. Please email thelma@gftunion.com or contact the GFT Office at 735-4390 to RSVP. The event is free for members!

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GFT T-SHIRT DESIGN CONTEST: ENTER FOR A CHANCE TO WIN $1000! DEADLINE EXTENDED TO FEB14

GFT is hosting a contest for the design of the next GFT T-shirt at the 13th Annual Convention. The first place winner will receive $1000 and have their design used on the next GFT T-shirt print! The second place winner will receive $500 and the third place winner will receive $250.

The contest is open to all currently enrolled public high school students in Guam.

All entries must be original creations of the contestant and must incorporate into the design, the GFT Local 1581 brand (i.e. colors, trademarks, or logos) and GFT’s representation for the following employee agencies with the text “United” or “Strong” or similar wording:

GDOE Teachers & Support Staff
Port Authority of Guam Employees
GMHA Nurses
GWA Employees
DPW Bus Drivers
ALUTIIQ (DODEA) Bus Drivers
UOG Support Staff
GCC Support Staff
DPHSS Eligibility Specialists
GFD Firefighters and Specialists
GPD Police Officers
DOC Corrections Officers
Guam Customs & Quarantine Officers
All other Government of Guam employees

Original creations have never been published, and does not contain profanity, trademarks, logos, or copyrighted works of any other person or business.

The entries must be received via email to irish@gftunion.com or dropped off at the GFT Office in Mangilao. The deadline has been extended for submission before 5 p.m. on Friday, February 14, 2020.

All interested contestants should contact the GFT Office at 735-4390 or email irish@gftunion.com for official contest rules and more information.

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2020 UNION PLUS SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM

New and returning applicants: Click here to create a new application or to login.

Logged in users: click on “Continue with Application” link.

Application deadline: 12:00pm (noon, Eastern Time), Friday, January 31, 2020.

Since 1991, the Union Plus Scholarship Program has awarded more than $4.5 million to students of union families. Over 3,000 union families have benefited from our commitment to higher education.

This program is offered through the Union Plus Education Foundation, which is sponsored by Union Privilege.

The Union Plus Education Foundation is funded in part by donations from Capital One N.A., the provider of the Union Plus Credit Card (You do not need to be a Union Plus Credit Card holder to apply for this scholarship.)

Award amounts: $500 to $4,000. These one-time cash awards are for study beginning in the Fall of 2020. Students may re-apply each year.

Award date: May 31, 2020. During the first week of June 2020 award recipients will be notified by postal mail, and all applicants will be sent email notification.

Eligibility criteria:
• Current and retired members of unions participating in any Union Plus program, their spouses and their dependent children (as defined by IRS regulations) are eligible. Grandchildren are not eligible unless a legal dependent (as defined by IRS regulations). At least one year of continuous union membership by the applicant, applicant’s spouse or parent (if applicant is a dependent). The one year membership minimum must be satisfied by May 31, 2020.
• Members of participating unions from the U.S., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands and Canada are eligible.
• The applicant must be accepted into a U.S. accredited college, university, community college, technical or trade school at the time the award is issued. Awards must be used for the 2020 – 2021 school year.
• Undergraduate and graduate students are eligible to apply.