Thanks to the action of Local 399 and its legal staff, two members who were denied full disability payments have both received their full settlements.
The difficulty began when the payroll company, Cast and Crew, failed to deduct State Disability Payments for the two while they were working in Massachusetts and New Orleans. The payroll company reasoned that since they were working out-of-state there was no reason to make SDI deductions.
Esther Kelly had been in Massachusetts in 2008 filming “The Proposal,” while David Florio was on the set of “Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant” in New Orleans in 2009.
The matter came to Florio’s attention after he returned to California and had to undergo shoulder surgery. “I had back surgery five years ago and received disability payments of over $900 a week. The payment for the shoulder surgery was only $560.”
Like Kelly, he protested the settlement but they were both told that since the payroll company had neglected to make contributions there was nothing that could be done.
“I thought to myself, ‘That’s totally wrong,'” said Florio. “I was working for a California company and driving California equipment. I immediately called Leo at the office.”
Kelly also went to the union. Secretary-Treasurer Leo Reed and Vice-President Randy Peterson contacted the local’s lawyers, who won an appeal. Both appeals resulted in denials; however, attorney Mike Weiner advised them to request a hearing before an administrative law judge and said he would represent them at the hearing.
“I felt we had a strong case,” said Weiner. He arguedthat the payroll company was in error in not deducting SDI payments and the two injured workers should not suffer. He pointed out that the two were hired in California, worked for a California company, used California equipment, and their paychecks were processed in California.
The hearing officers agreed: Florio received a $6,000 settlement and Kelly was awarded full payments.
“We are very happy for Esther and David and are glad they came to us for help,” Reed stated. “Now we are having discussions with the Cast and Crew payroll company to make sure this never happens again.”