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A statement from our Local NYSUT Office.
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Post A statement from our Local NYSUT Office. Posted: Fri Nov 16, 2012 4:20 pm
Tom Donovan
Hopefully everyone is well, has power, adequate housing and back to work today. I know that some of our members still can't say Yes to all of the above criteria, therefore I want to share the following with you.

NYSUT Disaster Relief Program:
Information about the NYSUT Disaster Relief Grants for members who have suffered storm damage and how members can make donations to the program can be found on the NYSUT web page at

Additional direct assistance to our brothers and sisters:
As a local president, if you learn of a member or members who were especially hard hit from the storms wrath and could use some assistance well beyond the amount available from the NYSUT Relief Fund, please contact me to discuss what NYSUT may be able to do for this member in crisis.

Disaster Unemployment Benefits for Hourly Workers:
Hourly employees who did not work and lost wages due to closures caused by Hurricane Sandy may be eligible for special federal unemployment benefits through the NYS Department of Labor. See the attached material and share it with your members who are hourly wage earners. There is also a FAQ link at ... shtm#DUAI1
If you are in the process of negotiating to recover lost hours with your employer you need to discuss this special unemployment provision and your negotiation goals with your LRS.

Health and Safety Concerns: many of our members have already begun to assist colleagues whose homes have been seriously damaged and some will attempt to organize students to assist in these repair and remediation efforts, however while such actions serve to satisfy our need to be of assistance, a serious degree of caution should be employed by those who are novices at the type of activities that need to be undertaken. Even demolition work which seems to require only brute physical labor can lead to accidents and serious physical injury due to a number of reasons; carelessness, dangerous structural conditions, live electricity, toxic conditions from exposure to mold or waste water, sheet rock dust, fiberglass and in some cases friable asbestos. Most remediation work should be left to experienced and knowledgeable individuals. If you must engage in such activities at least do the following:
1. Make sure your tetanus shots are up to date.
2. Wear a proper professional respirator mask when exposed to dust or chemicals, those white paper masks are not suitable protection.
3. Wear protective gloves and boots.
4. Be prepared to discard all clothing after working in any house that suffered flood damage in order to ensure that you do not bring mold spores into your own home.
5. Let professionals deal with any and all structures or property contaminated by waste water, as you run the risk of contracting serious infection and potentially fatal infections for those with compromised immune systems.

See the attached NYCOSH Bulletins.

Again, I would suggest you discourage the recruitment of students in any type of construction activity and make sure that school district permission is obtained for any and all relief activities that involve students, especially if it involves off campus activities.

Internal Revenue Service:
Anyone who suffered property damage caused by the storm should be entitled to a casualty loss deduction on their federal income taxes. Since the federal government has declared our region a federal disaster area, in most cases you should be able to approximate any loss you have incurred, less estimates of insurance reimbursement, to come up with an approximation for your casualty loss. This does not only include your homes, but also your personal property and automobiles. Usually the IRS allows you to amend the previous year's tax return (2011) and receive refunds based on your 2012 loss a lot sooner rather than waiting until you file your 2012 return. This could be a tremendous help in paying for any repairs that your insurance does not cover. Speak to your accountant or tax preparer about whether this deduction could apply to you.
Also, anyone who is self-employed, the date for filing estimated witholding for the next quarter has been extended for those living in the federal disaster zone. Again, consult your tax person for confirmation.

In solidarity,

Vincent Lyons
Suffolk Regional Staff Director
New York State United Teachers
150 Vanderbilt Motor Parkway
Suite 306
Hauppauge, NY 11788-5180
Phone (631) 273-8822
Fax (631) 273-6186
e-mail -

flood health hazards from sewage 1112.pdf [306.4 KiB]
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Disaster Unemployment Assistance.pdf [260.24 KiB]
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Hurricane Sandy cleanup hazards 110512.pdf [143.09 KiB]
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