EEOICPA BULLETIN NO. 04-09

 

Issue Date:  March 1, 2004

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Effective Date:  March 1, 2004

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Expiration Date:  March 1, 2005

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Subject: Center to Protect Workers’ Rights (CPWR).

 

Background: The Division of Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation (DEEOIC) has received numerous claims from employees who worked in jobs related to construction or trade (construction workers, electricians, plumbers, etc.) in the nuclear weapons industry.  Given that these jobs are usually performed under a subcontract, obtaining reliable documentation to verify employment has proven difficult and time consuming.   

To assist in the collection of relevant evidence, the DEEOIC has contracted with The Center to Protect Workers’ Rights (CPWR) for assistance in obtaining records pertinent to construction and trade employees at DOE, Atomic Weapons Employer or Beryllium Vendor facilities.  The DEEOIC has contracted with the CPWR due to their extensive access to records and their ongoing relationship to various worker advocate organizations. CPWR is a research, development, and training arm of the Building and Construction Trades Department (BCTD), of the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO). This unique relationship with the BCTD allows CPWR direct access to the 15 building and construction trades international unions, signatory contractors, union health and welfare and pension funds. As a consequence, they have access to employment records, union rosters and dispatch records.  In addition, CPWR has an extensive institutional knowledge and working experience with several DOE sites.

 

CPWR has been tasked to research and provide employment information for construction/trade worker claims where the Department of Labor (DOL) has been unable to obtain reliable information through available resources (i.e. DOE, corporate verifiers). CPWR is solely an information collection agent of the DEEOIC.  They serve no function in determining coverage for benefits, nor are they permitted to offer opinion as to the validity of the evidence presented to substantiate a claim.  The CE retains the responsibility for evaluating  evidence and making any judgment concerning covered employment.  CPWR will be asked to provide any information or documentation that substantiates the following items:

 

(1) Evidence that a contractual relationship existed between the covered facility and the identified employer (contractor) during a specific time period;

 

(2) Evidence that the claimant was an employee of the covered employer during the claimed time period;

 

(3) Evidence that the employee worked on site at the covered facility.

 

Initially CPWR will be unable to assist DEEOIC with each and every construction and trade claim.  CPWR’s assistance will be prioritized based on construction/trade claims by facility starting with the DOE facilities for Savannah River, Oak Ridge, Hanford, Paducah and Portsmouth.  Additional DOE facilities will be added as the project progresses.

 

Reference: EEOICPA Bulletin 03-27, Establishing Covered Subcontractor Employment

 

Purpose:  To provide procedures for obtaining employment documents from CPWR.

 

Applicability: All Staff

 

Actions:

 

1.  When the CE reaches the point in case development where he or she has attempted employment verification through the DOE or a corporate verifier, and received a negative response, consideration is to be given for referring the case to CPWR.   

 

2.  A referral to CPWR is contingent on the facility where employment occurred and the type of job claimed.  CPWR will coordinate with the National Office the submission of two lists.  One will identify the facilities where CPWR can provide assistance.  The second will identify the types of jobs to which CPWR is likely to have information, such as construction or building trades.  These lists will be made available to each District Office and will be periodically updated. For a CPWR referral to proceed, the claimed employment must identify both a facility and job type appearing on the lists provided.      

 

3.  If a CE determines that any period of claimed employment satisfies both the facility and job type criteria for CPWR consideration, he or she must confer with the designated District Office Point of Contact (POC). The POC is selected by each District Office to serve as the principal liaison between DEEOIC and CPWR. There will be one POC per District Office.  The designated POC is responsible for all communication between the district office and CPWR.  Moreover, the POC is responsible for certifying outgoing referrals and reviewing incoming responses.    

 

4.  If the POC agrees that the situation requires a CPWR referral, the appropriate forms are to be prepared.  There are two principle forms used to make a CPWR referral:  A CP-1 Referral Sheet and CP-2 Employment Response Report (Attachments 1 & 2).  The CP-1 provides general information concerning the employee’s case file.  The CP-2 is a form CPWR uses to respond to employment data requests made by the DEEOIC. 

 

5.  The CP-1 is to be completed by either the CE or the POC.  Section 1 requires information concerning the case to be listed, such as employee name, claim type, file number and Social Security Number.  In Section 2, the referring District Office is to be identified along with the number of attached CP-2 Employment Response Reports.  Any special requests or other relevant information for CPWR is to be listed in the comment section.

 

6.  For each claimed employer at a facility where CPWR can provide assistance, a separate CP-2 Employment Response Report is to be prepared by the CE.  The CE or POC may make as many copies of the form as necessary.  The CP-2 contains two sections.  Section 1 is completed by the CE or POC and describes the employment to be researched by CPWR.  It is important that the information specify both the periods of employment requiring verification and the type of evidence being requested such as evidence of contractual relationship, proof of employment with the claimed employer, or evidence of employment on the premise of the claimed facility.  Section 2 of the CP-2 is reserved for CPWR to report any findings pertaining to the claimed employment.    

 

7. Upon completion of the DOL’s portions of the CP-1 and CP-2, the POC is to conduct a complete review of all the material.  He or she is to ensure that the information contained in the referral forms is reported accurately and satisfies all the requirements for submission to CPWR. Once the review is completed and the POC is satisfied that the CP-1 and all CP-2 forms are completed correctly, he or she is to sign and date the CP-1.  The CP-1 Referral Sheet is to be certified on the day the referral is mailed out of the district office.  

 

8.   Once the referral forms are completed and certified by the POC, copies of both the referral sheets and the case file are to be made. The POC or CE will attach the original CP-1 and CP-2 sheets to a copy of the case file.  This constitutes a complete CPWR referral package.  The entire package will be express mailed to CPWR.  Copies of the CP-1 and CP-2 forms are to be inserted into the official case file.

 

9.   On the same day that the referral package is mailed to CPWR, notification of CPWR involvement in the case is to be prepared for each known claimant.  The CE or POC is to prepare a cover letter for each claimant that describes CPWR’s involvement in the case (Attachment 3).  This cover letter should be transmitted to the claimant(s) on the same date of referral to CPWR.

 

10.  A referral to CPWR is performed concurrent to other required developmental actions, such as requests for wage information from the Social Security Administration, or development letters to the claimant.  The CE should not delay undertaking other avenues of development of a case while awaiting a response from CPWR. 

 

11. CPWR will initially be able to accept a limited number of referral response packages. The DEEOIC National Office will advise the district offices of the weekly allowable number of cases to be submitted to CPWR.  Once the POC determines the number of cases to be sent to CPWR during a given week, he or she is to batch all the referrals and express mail them on Monday of each week to:

 

Anna Chen (anna_chen@worldnet.att.net)

Zenith Administrators

201 Queen Anne Avenue, North

Suite 100

Seattle, WA 98109

1-800-866-9663 Anna Chen

 

12. The POC is the ultimate arbiter of all issues involving the CPWR referral process. He or she is not to certify for submission any referral package that does not meet the requirements for referral.  Any incomplete or inaccurate referral package should be returned to the CE. The POC is to notify the CE of any deficiency and the steps necessary to correct the problem.  CPWR is permitted to contact claimants directly.  However, any request for claimant contact must be submitted to the POC, who will then provide the necessary contact information.      

 

13. The POC is responsible for tracking all CPWR referrals and responses.  For each referral, the District Office must track the following information:

 

a.   case number

b.   facility name(s),

c.   employer name(s),

d.   date of referral to CPWR,

e.   date response received from CPWR,

f.   CE initiating request.

 

Twice a month, the DO POC will send the National Office an email summarizing the number of CPWR referrals and responses for the preceding two week period, outstanding requests (>40 days), and the total number of referrals to date.  Contractually, CPWR can process a limited number of claims during the contracted time period.  Therefore, the report will assist the National Office in determining the number of requests allowed by each District office on a monthly basis. 

 

14.   The CE or POC is to enter the claim status code “US” (Union sent) in the claim status history screen in ECMS with the status effective date equal to the date of referral mailing.  The “UScode signifies that all actions are complete pertaining to a CPWR mailing, including release of a completed referral package and mailing of a cover letter to the claimant(s). 

 

15.  After inputting the “US code, a note must be entered in the “Worksite Desc” field on the main case screen in ECMS.  For each facility where employment is claimed and for which CPWR is assisting in the collection of employment evidence, the CE or POC must enter a note.  The note is not to replace any existing entry pertaining to the site.  The CE or POC must enter the following note using the first twelve characters of the “Worksite Desc” field for outstanding CPWR referrals: “CPWR pending.”

 

16.  The CE will also enter a 40 day call-up in ECMS effective the date of referral.  If a CE receives a call up notice indicating 40 days has elapsed and a response from CPWR has not been received, he/she will send notification via email to the POC.  Upon receipt of the notification, the POC is to verify the delinquency and list it in their tracking program.  The POC is then responsible for contacting CPWR by telephone or email to advise of the overdue request.  The POC is to input a claim status code of “DE” (Developing Employment) in the claim status history screen of ECMS effective the date contact is made with CPWR concerning an overdue response.  The CE or POC selects “CPWR” from the reason code list box. All phone calls or email are to be appropriately recorded in the case file.  The POC has three working days to report all overdue referrals to CPWR.  Moreover, he or she must update the status of the referral in the CPWR tracking program.

 

17. CPWR has thirty calendar days from receipt of a referral package to conduct appropriate research into the claimed employment, complete each CP-2 based on the evidence gathered, and express mail the response to the appropriate POC. Responses are to be bundled according to case file number.

 

18.  District Office mailroom staff are to date stamp incoming responses according to established procedures and forward it to the designated POC.  The POC is to enter the receipt date in the tracking database and immediately forward the CPWR response to the appropriate CE.   

 

19. Upon receipt of a CPWR response, the CE or POC enters the claim status code “UR” (Received from Union) in the claim status history screen in ECMS with the status effective date equal to the date the referral was date stamped received by the DO. 

 

20.  When reviewing the CPWR response, the CE or POC is to ensure it is complete.  The CE or POC checks to ensure that the number of CP-2 forms per bundle corresponds with the number of referrals identified on the CP-1 form.  Each CP-2 form is to be marked according to the information found, submitted with any supporting documentation and signed by a representative of the CPWR.  In particular, CPWR is required to complete the Search Results section on the CP-2 for each employer noting:  the evidence located; whether it resulted in sufficient evidence to support the developmental components identified by the CE requiring assistance; comments to include where the information came from and how to interpret; a summary of all the evidence; contact information for potential affiants; and contact information for the CPWR employee who conducted the search. 

 

21.  When reviewing the evidence, generally, there are five categories of records that can be submitted to the CE for consideration.  The categories are listed in the CPWR Research Results section of the CP-2 Employment Response Report and will be marked if corresponding evidence is submitted.  These categories include:  Union Dispatch/Log, Pension Fund, Health & Welfare, Facility/Site, DOE Former Worker Program, and other.  To assist the CE in distinguishing between the categories of records, the evidence will be labeled as follows:  A – Union Dispatch; B - Pension; C - Health Fund Records; D - Former Worker Program Records; E - Site Records.

 

(A) Union dispatch/log records that show the placement of a worker to a specific jobsite and/or contractor.  These records are filed at the local union hall or with the union steward on the jobsite.  A dispatch record may provide the following information: worker’s name, social security number, job title, project being assigned to, the date of assignment, the company/employer, hire/termination date, and pay scale.

 

(B) Pension fund – records maintained by a pension fund established pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement between a building and construction trades union and one or more employers to act as a trust for the purpose of providing pension benefits to employees covered by the collective bargaining agreement. 

 

(C) Health and welfare – records maintained by a health and welfare fund established pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement between a building and construction trades union and one or more employers, to act as a trust for the purpose of providing pension group health, life, disability and similar benefits to employees covered by the collective bargaining agreement. 

 

(D)  Former Worker Program (FWP) -  These programs evaluated the long-term health conditions of former workers who may be risk of occupational diseases due to their former employment at certain DOE sites. These projects evaluate former workers at the following sites: Hanford Site, Nevada Test Site, Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site, Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant, Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant, Oak Ridge Reservation, Savannah River Site, Idaho National Energy and Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Alaska's Amchitka Island, and the Iowa Army Ammunition Plant. CPWR has access to a variety of records that have been collected by the FWP’s. 

 

Information reported in the FWP Work History Interview can be accepted as accurate and true so long as the interview occurred prior to October 20, 2000 and is the sole source of employment information available in the case file.  Any data available in an interview conducted after October 20, 2000 must be substantiated by other collaborative documentation.  In addition, FWP lists of contractor and subcontractor relationships at certain DOE facilities can be accepted as accurate and true. 

 

(E)  Facility/Site - records that CPWR has obtained previously or concurrently from the DOE facility such as a certified payroll, a personnel record, or a collective bargaining agreement.  

 

22.  The CE is responsible for carefully assessing the relevance of any evidence or information submitted by CPWR.  Judgments regarding covered employment rely on a careful examination of not only the evidence submitted by CPWR, but other sources as well.  The CE should be mindful to ensure that the evidence submitted by CPWR reasonably substantiates allegations of employment brought forth by an employee or survivors.  The evidence must reasonably satisfy all the components necessary to establish covered employment.  In any instance where the CE questions or does not understand the nature of the information supplied by CPWR, he or she must request the POC to contact CPWR for clarification.   

 

23.  Upon review of the evidence received from CPWR, the CE or POC must re-enter the “Worksite Desc” note field in ECMS and amend the “CPWR Pending” note for each worksite for which CPWR is providing assistance.  He or she will delete the "CPWR Pending" and replace it with one of the following as the first characters of the note field:

 

CPWR Assisted All - when “ALL” of the data requested from CPWR assisted in establishing covered employment.

 

CPWR Assisted Partial - when a portion of the data requested from CPWR assisted in establishing covered employment.

 

CPWR Assisted None - when “NONE” of the data requested from CPWR assisted in establishing covered employment.

 

24.  The DEEOIC is the ultimate arbiter of any disputes arising between the program and CPWR.  If the POC encounters an instance where a question of interpretation has arisen that can not be resolved through normal discourse with CPWR, the issue should be referred to the Branch of Policies, Regulations and Procedures.  A memo is to be prepared outlining the issue to be resolved. Copies of the completed referral form(s) and any other relevant employment documentation are to be attached.  All referrals prepared for the National Office are to be certified by the appropriate POC and District Director.

 

Disposition:  Retain until incorporated in the Federal (EEOICPA) Procedure Manual.

 

 

PETER M. TURCIC

Director, Division of Energy Employees

Occupational Illness Compensation

 

 

 

 

Distribution List No. 1: Claims Examiners, Supervisory Claims Examiners, Technical Assistants, Customer Service Representatives, Fiscal Officers, FAB District Managers, Operation Chiefs, Hearing Representatives, District Office Mail & File Sections

 

Attachment 1: CPWR-Referral

Attachment 2: CPWR-Employment Response Report