The union that represents journalists at Bloomberg Industry Group sent the following to CEO Josh Eastright:
Dear Josh and Christina,
The Guild is writing to you today to highlight some of the economic issues our employees are facing due to Covid-19 and to ask that Bloomberg Industry Group address ongoing costs being incurred by our employees, as well as changes recent legislation has made to empower citizens to weather this pandemic economically.
1. CARES Act 401(k) options: The CARES Act provides 401(k) plan participants the option to make coronavirus-related withdrawals without the usual 10% penalty or taxes if repaid within 3 years. MassMutual has advised employees who have tried to take advantage of this that Bloomberg Industry Group has not opted into it. Opting into this change allows employees to be able to tap into their funds to be able to cover costs. This is critical for families where the other spouse has been furloughed or laid off.
2. CARES Act Student Loan: The CARES act provides that companies may provide up to $5,250 in student loan repayment assistance without it being taxable income for the employee. This is only available through the end of the year. While student loan payments that have come from the federal government are not being collected, student loan payments that were federally guaranteed are being collected. This is an opportunity for the company to be able to help employees manage financial obligations. With five months left in the year, we would love to be able to work with you to make this a reality for our employees.
3. The Costs of Working from Home: Many employees are nearing week 20 of working from home. As we mentioned at the labor management meeting, employees are incurring additional costs ranging from increased use of electricity, having air conditioning on during peak energy usage when we would generally be in the office, purchasing their own supplies, and a long list of other things. Some of our employees have had to increase their home internet bandwidth. With ISPs ending the moratorium on additional bandwidth costs on June 1, these costs could increase even further. We would like to discuss ways that we can help colleagues weather these additional costs. Current ideas include a work from home stipend similar to the one given to correspondents, creating an additional payment to employees making under a certain income threshold, or repurposing the transit subsidy temporarily to a work from home subsidy.
We would be glad to sit down to discuss other economic issues that workers have brought to the union’s attention.
Thanks so much for your time,