The benefits described in this website are the result of more than 40 years of the Union's collective bargaining demands on behalf of covered members, and successive Boards of Trustees' continuous efforts to provide benefit programs that meet the membership's greatest needs. All of these benefit programs are hard-won, and their proven contribution to the well-being of covered members and their families is very significant. Because these programs are so important to you, we would like to highlight the history of their development as well as the current framework governing the Funds' operations.
The Welfare and Educational Funds were created as a result of the historic 1965 struggle won by the Union. These Funds were designed to provide supplementary benefits that would "fill the gaps" in employer-provided benefits (e.g., health insurance).
The Welfare Fund's first benefit program consisted only of a limited dental plan for covered members and their families. The life insurance benefit was added in 1967, and increased in 1968 and again in 1969 when a number of additional benefits were introduced to the program, and the dental plan was improved for the first time.
The Educational Fund's benefit program at first provided only a limited number of benefits for college courses. The program has evolved into its present array of benefits for covered members of all educational levels.
The Administrative Fund was created in 1973 to receive and allocate City contributions to the Union's Benefit Funds; and in mid-1975 the Welfare Fund and Educational Fund Boards of Trustees were united.
Providing legal service benefits to meet the membership's need for affordable attorneys' services was first considered in 1970. In 1972, the Legal Assistance Committee was established in accordance with Article V of the Union Constitution, to provide attorneys' services in work-related matters (e.g., Disciplinary Hearings, Arbitration Cases, arrest in connection with a member's employment, etc.). The Legal Assistance Committee continues to provide attorneys' services to protect covered members' rights in work-related matters, and it is financed by the allocation of $.60 a month from covered members' Union dues or agency shop fee payments. The first Legal Services Fund benefit program was established in 1974 and introduced in 1975, after the last of many obstacles thrown up by the organized bar in New York State was overcome. The Legal Services Fund is separate and distinct from the Legal Assistance Committee; it is not financed by Union dues or agency shop fee payments, and its benefits are for non-work-related matters. The Legal Services Fund's benefit program also has been improved and expanded repeatedly, most recently in 2007.
All of the benefit programs were created as a result of collective bargaining between the Social Service Employees Union Local 371 and the City of New York. The programs are financed by City contributions on behalf of each covered member to the Administrative Fund, which then allocates contributions to the Welfare, Legal Services, and Educational Funds. Each of these Funds is separate and distinct from the Union, in accordance with law as well as Internal Revenue Service requirements. The Funds receive no money from Union dues or from agency shop fee payments to the Union, and the Union receives no money from City contributions to the Funds.
Each Board of Trustees sets policy for that Fund's benefits, to serve the greatest interests of the membership as a whole. The Trustees are elected in accordance with the Union Constitution and Trust Documents, and are further governed by a large body of statutory law.
This benefits section of Local 371's website describes the provisions of the Funds as in effect on June 1, 2004. Any changes to these rules will be described in articles in the Union's newspaper, The Unionist, and in the special pullout benefits supplement to The Unionist which is published each year.
We urge you to read each section of this book carefully, so that you gain an understanding of all the benefits to which you and your eligible dependents are entitled. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Funds.