USW Strike Assistance
Brothers and Sisters, for the duration of the strike we must all get really good at MINIMIZING EXPENSES and MAXIMIZING RESOURCES! Here are some ways that will help us to do that.
2-1-1: dial 211 to reach the Texas Health and Human Services Commission resource line. Callers are referred to the best place in their community to get the help they need.
COUNSELING (general): through the USW Employee Assistance Program provides mental health counseling, legal help, safe rides, and other, 1-800-343-3822.
CREDIT: Who are your creditors (auto, home, etc.)? Communicate with each one. Let them know you are on strike and ask for arrangements to defer payments, pay interest only, or other. Example: we know that Chase Bank Mortgage Assistance at 800-848-9380 will send a hardship packet upon request. Your lender might do the same.
We know that some credit unions (TBACU, Shell, Amoco) are ready to offer deferred payments on existing loans. Let them hear from you. Good communication with them is important.
Loan repayments from the Shell Provident Fund/401K have been suspended for 12 months because we are on "unpaid leave." It would be a good idea to call and confirm your own status, 1-800-307-4355.
Texas Bay Area credit union auto loans: you may skip one month payment, then discuss further options if need be.
Texas Bay Area credit union mortgage loans: they will not defer any payments but said they have set up a loan program for us to make our mortgage payments that they will defer for three months on that loan, with interest charges.
Bank of America auto loans: will defer one month’s payment and will discuss further assistance if needed.
CREDIT CARDS: CapitalOne Union Plus credit card - if you have this card, ask about their hardship grants. New applicants, go to union plus.org/assistance or call 1-800-522-4000.
CREDIT COUNSELING: United Way will give referrals to reputable counsellors. Dial 211 for the helpline.
DENTAL: www.coast2coastrx.com, 1-800-931-8872. Print a discount card from the website. Cardholders who use the network have access to more than 140,000 access points nationwide. If you ever want to find a new dentist, there is no paperwork to fill out or waiting periods. Each family member can choose his or her own dentist.
DISCRETIONARY EXPENSES: reduce/eliminate your TV package. Reduce/eliminate eating at restaurants. Enjoy an evening at your public library at no cost. Take the dog and family to the dog park. Be creative.
FOOD ASSISTANCE: Houston Food Bank provides food at its main location as well as referrals to local food banks, based on your zip code. There are 10 food banks within 5 miles of our union hall. Call 832-369-9390 or get info online at houstonfoodbank.org. Check into the subsidized lunch program at your child’s school district.
HEALTHCARE: Houston Area Community Services, "affordable health care for the entire family." www.hacstxs.org, 2150 West 18th St., suite 300, Houston. Ph. 713-426-0027
JOBS: Texas Workforce Commission, www.twc.state.tx.us
PRESCRIPTIONS: remember these are not covered by the USW insurance. HEB and other local pharmacies offer discount cards. Go online to print discount cards fromwww.familywize.org (provides up to 75% discounts) and www.coast2coastrx.com (discounts on prescriptions, dental, vision, hearing, diabetic supplies, lab work and veterinary). Also discounted prescriptions can be had at www.goodrx.com. Upon visiting the site, submit your zip code and name of medication and it will illustrate the cost of the drug in your area and their cost.
SCHOOL LUNCH PROGRAM: if you have children in school, call your school district to sign up for the free and reduced cost school lunch program. There is an income eligibility guideline.
STRIKE ASSISTANCE funds from the International Union will be administered through the local union’s Finance Committee to help members meet their most urgent needs in caring for themselves and their families during the strike. No money is given directly to members; checks will be written to creditors. Funds arrive at the local around 3 weeks into the strike.
YOU: do what you need to do to eliminate stress and keep mentally fit. If you have a gym membership, USE it! Pray, meditate, talk it out, visualize the outcome you want in this situation. Come to the union hall and visit with others. Take an active role. Walk your picket times. Volunteer additional time at the hall or picket line if you can. During this time, we all need each other.
Your Strike Assistance Committee is available for information exchange. Let us know if you find any of this information to be incorrect. Let us know what has helped the most. Call the union hall or come by to learn more.