Tax Bill Could Stop Railroad Unemployment and Sickness Benefits

BLET NEWS FLASH

BLET Action Alert: Republican tax bill on track to put Railroad Retirement Unemployment & Sickness benefits in the siding

http://www.ble-t.org/pr/news/newsflash.asp?id=6050

 

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio, December 15 — The Republican tax bill currently working its way through the House and the Senate could have a devastating impact on Railroad Retirement Unemployment and Sickness Benefits, according to analysis from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the General Counsel of the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB). All active and retired BLET members and their families are urged to contact their Senators and Representatives immediately and urge them to vote “No.” A vote is expected to take place next week.

According to CBO’s analysis, the 2010 “Pay-As-You-Go” Act (or PAYGO) requires automatic reductions in federal spending to offset increases to the national debt. This is also known as sequestration, which already has negatively impacted Railroad Unemployment and Sickness Benefits for the past several years.

According to published media reports, the proposed tax bill would add $1.5 trillion to $2 trillion to the national debt, in effect triggering “sequestration on steroids.” Through sequestration, the PAYGO act would trigger drastic cuts at all levels of all programs listed in the federal budget including the RRB’s Railroad Unemployment and Sickness program.

The RRB’s General Counsel warns, “This would have the practical result of a 100% sequestration of all non-exempt direct spending accounts including the funds from the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund which is used to pay unemployment and sickness benefits.” The result: about $18 million — all of which is paid by employers subject to the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act (RUIA) on an experience-rated basis — would be taken from the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund to pay for tax breaks for others — corporations and the nation’s wealthiest private citizens.

Please call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121, and ask to speak with the House of Representative Member from your Congressional District. If you do not talk directly with your Member of Congress, then ask to speak to the staff member who handles Labor issues. When speaking to staff, please be respectful just as you would if you were personally speaking with your member of Congress. Also follow these procedures when contacting each of the two Senators from your state.

Contact information for your member of the House can be found online here: https://www.house.gov/htbin/findrep. Contact information for your Senator can be found online here.

“RUIA taxes are paid by the railroad industry to help our Brothers and Sisters who are injured or out of work,” BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce said. “If this threat to their economic security doesn’t make you furious then you aren’t paying attention. The wildly irresponsible Republican tax proposal would rob hard working Americans to give tax breaks to wealthiest Americans and to even wealthier corporations. I urge each and every member of the BLET and their families, as well as those in the BLET Auxiliary, to lobby their Representatives and Senators and demand that they vote ‘No’ on this outrageously unfair tax bill.”

DENNY D’S DID YOU KNOW

 

COLD WEATHER

 

With the cold winter here to stay for the next few months, I thought that a review of a few rules and other best practices regarding winter would be a good idea. 

 

Maximum Speeds: Cold Weather (SSI Item 2-E)

Did You Know that when you have a cold weather restriction issued to your train, not only does your average ton per car affect your speed, but also the type of territory, signaled or non-signaled? While a hot weather restriction has two different levels, a cold weather restriction does not. Either you have it, or you don’t. Also, do you know what to do regarding a cold weather restriction and PTC?

 

Passenger trains, light engines, and freight trains averaging less than 90 tons per car/platform - Signaled track = No Restriction, Non-Signaled Track = Max 40 MPH. (Marion Sub)

 

Passenger trains, light engines, and freight trains averaging 90 tons per car/platform or more - All territory = Max 40 MPH.

 

BNSF SSI Page 35 - The BNSF is a little different. They break their railroad into two different regions, low temperature threshold, and a temperature differential threshold. The Beardstown and River Subs falls under region 1. The low temperature threshold is 0 F. The differential is a swing from 50 F or warmer to 10 F within 24 hours. If restricted, the Beardstown Sub is non-signaled territory and all trains are 40 MPH. If on the BNSF River Sub heading to the New Madrid Sub, your tons per operative brakes would affect your speed. Key trains and and trains with 100 TPOB or more are restricted to 40 MPH. Trains less than 100 TPOB are 50 MPH. Their System Special Instructions says that you must notify the dispatcher if your speed is restricted due to this rule, so you may have to call the dispatcher to get the temperature.

 

Cold Weather Restriction With PTC

If your train speed is affected by a cold weather restriction, the engineer will be responsible for entering the correct maximum speed into the system. If the restriction goes into affect during your trip, you do not have to stop to change the maximum allowable speed in the computer, you will be responsible for adjusting your speed accordingly. When you stop later in your trip, you will then have to adjust the maximum allowable speed in the PTC computer. You cannot change it while moving.

 

Getting On and Off of Equipment 

When temperatures are hovering just above freezing and there is a light mist in the air, the handrails and platforms can become slightly iced up when you have been operating at high speeds. Use extreme caution when getting on and off and stepping out onto the front platform. The use of gloves will greatly increase your grip.

 

As a side note, managers are taking exceptions to engineers and conductors getting on or off of the locomotive without having gloves on. The expectation is that anytime your hands come into contact with metal, they want to see you with your gloves on. Safety Rule 71.3 states when hand protection is required. One of bullets in the rule requires use of gloves to protect your hands against cuts, lacerations, or abrasions. A hand rail could potentially have a burr or sharp paint chip that could possibly cut your hand, so that’s why they want you to have them on.

 

Hoodies 71.6

If use a hood for your head, remember it must be far enough back and secured on your face so that it doesn’t block your peripheral vision.

 

Walking 81.2.1

This time of year it is a good idea to watch the weather and keep you snow boots or cleats with you. Think about your return trip home, not just the trip for today. 

 

By now, hopefully, we all understand what is required when walking across the tracks. Pause and look both directions before crossing, and walk straight across. We also know that we are not supposed to step on the rail. I would like to add one more piece of personal advice. When possible, avoid stepping on the ties when crossing. I have always tried to stick to this practice, even during the summer. During the winter, and even during the fall and spring, a light frosting on the ties can cause the ties to become extremely slick. Also, stepping in a pile of rotting grain or oil on a tie can be just like stepping on ice. It only takes a brief second of losing your footing to create an embarrassing moment or worse.

 

Finally, when working around or near the tracks, it imperative to maintain your situational awareness. Being outside in the extreme cold can cause us to get into too big of hurry to get the job done so that we can get inside where it is warm. Also snow on the ground can deaden sound making it harder to hear approaching equipment. These are only a couple of examples of many distractions this time of year that cause us to lose our 

 

Let’s all take the time to work safely this winter and look out for each other. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GCA Arbitration Update

Brothers and Sisters,

 

    Our General Committee took several cases to arbitration in early November most of the cases were discipline cases, yet we took four rules cases along with us.

 

AVR Claims - The long standing claims for inaccurate =TL (being off more than 4 hours) has been lost. All claims that have been entered will be declined, there is no further handling of this issue.

 

Daily Inspections of Locomotives when mechanical forces are on duty, was denied, unless there is a companion claim from the mechanical department. This is going to take coordination from both parties to progress these types of claims.

 

Peer Trainer Agreement Dispute for pay on the 6th day, we won the case.

 

Supplying Locomotives in a foreign yard (CSXT - Rose Lake) we lost.

 

We took several Discipline cases with us, we won some and lost some we have sent letters to the individuals notifying them of the status of their case.

 

Attached, are the Rules Awards.

 

I would like to add for clarification that all of these cases were taken to expedited arbitration. That means we, the organization pay for half of the fees and the carrier pays the other half. Both parties have to agree to the payment as well as the cases that will be heard.

 

 

Brian 

File attachments: 

FRA - Part 240 & 242 - Pilot Flow Chart

File attachments: 
AttachmentSize
Image icon 240 pilot flow chart.JPG151.17 KB
Image icon 242 pilot flow chart.JPG183.81 KB

Denny D’S Did You Know

 

MANDATORY DIRECTIVES 

 

Did You Know that when a mandatory directive is received, the GCOR is specific about who can copy and who must have a written copy. Did You Know that there is a fill in the blank form with your bulletins that can be used for this. A brief look at mandatory directives and a couple of associated rules should help to clarify some confusion.

 

Mandatory Directive GCOR 6.11

Before we get into the rule regarding transmission, let’s take a look at what constitutes a mandatory directive.

They are written, printed, or displayed authorities of speed restrictions issued by a dispatcher or control operator.

  • Track Warrants
  • Track Bulletins 
  • DTC Authority (A&S Blocks)
  • Tack and Time
  • Track Permits
  • Radio Speed Restrictions

 

You are required to retain your copies until the end of your continuous tour of duty. It’s not only a good idea, but it is required, even when swapping out at a crew change location. This is even more important when yarding your train at an outlying point such as Labadie, Iron Mountain, or similar locations. You never know when the dispatcher may decide to have you get another train after you’re already in the van. Always leave copies of your train list on the train, but take your bulletins and voided track warrants unless the dispatcher tells you to leave them for the relieving crew to assume.

 

Transmission of Mandatory Directives GCOR 2.14

The GCOR is very specific regarding the transmission of mandatory directives.

  • When ready to copy you must specifically state your occupation, name, and location.
  • The employee operating the controls of a moving engine cannot copy. This does not mean that the engineer cannot ever copy, just not while operating a moving engine. If stopped or if the conductor happens to be a cut back engineer that is operating, then it is perfectly acceptable for the engineer to copy.
  • The employee receiving must copy it in writing using the format provided for in the rules. The fill in the blank forms in the back of your track warrant for bulletins is perfect for this. It is not required that you use them, but they must be written in the format provided in the rules. They could simply be written on a blank sheet of paper, but the full in the blank form will ensure that you use the correct format.
  • Before being acted upon, the engineer and conductor must both have a written copy. Each crew member must read and understand. If the engineer is running, the written copy must be provided to the engineer by the conductor. If stopped, he can write it himself. This is not a new part of the rule, but managers have recently been checking to see that the engineer has a written copy as well. If you were moving at the time of the transmission, both copies should be in the conductor’s hand writing to be compliant. I just hand my bulletins to my conductor to write it into my fill in the blank form or have him hand me a copy on a blank sheet of paper. A best practice that I also use, is to write it into my track summary in the proper sequence to make for certain I do not forget about it.

 

Verbally Transmitting of Mandatory Directives GCOR 2.14.1

Some railroads have their own specific way that they want words, numbers, and directions spoken. The following out of the GCOR is specific to Union Pacific.

  • Numbers - Spoken individually, expect 100 may be spoken a one hundred, 1,000 as one thousand and so on. A decimal must be spoke as a dot, point, or decimal and a hyphen as dash.
  • Letters - when necessary a phonetic alphabet may be used for clarity. Use the name of the railroad if clarifying letters for railroad initials.
  • Words - Some railroads require words for direction be spoken and then spelled out. On Union Pacific this is required when reporting past a specific point to roll up a track warrant.

 

Cab Red Zone GCOR 1.47.1

One of the times that a Cab Red Zone exist is while copying a mandatory directive. This would even apply when stopped. It simply means that while the mandatory directive is being transmitted, all unnecessary communication should stop. The engineer should listen as well. I used to tell my students in new hire class to talk loud enough on the radio so that others in the can can hear what you are saying. If you make a mistake, the engineer may catch it.

 

Hopefully this clarified some confusion regarding mandatory directives. If you have any questions feel free to ask me.

 

 

BLET members ratify national contract

BLET members ratify national contract

 

http://www.ble-t.org/pr/news/newsflash.asp?id=6044

Signalmen become second CBG union to ratify new national agreement

Signalmen become second CBG union to ratify new national agreement

http://www.ble-t.org/pr/news/newsflash.asp?id=6043

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio, November 29 — Yesterday, the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS), a partner union of the Collective Bargaining Group (CBG), announced that the union’s members had ratified the new national agreement.

The BRS is now the second of six CBG unions to ratify the deal. On November 27, the American Train Dispatchers Association (ATDA) announced that nearly two-thirds of its members voted in favor in order to ratify the new agreement. The BRS represents more than 8,000 members affected by the contract.

“This round of bargaining brought its unique challenges, going from an arms-reach of an agreement back to square one following the 2016 presidential elections,” BRS President Dan Pickett said. “As mediation was starting to stalemate, in the final hours we were able to get the Carriers to shift some of their positions and come to an agreement we felt was fair for our brothers and sisters. Although, we desired to see no changes in healthcare, we understood that such a position is difficult in today’s culture; however, we were able to freeze the employee’s monthly health and welfare contribution. A key to this agreement was taking the damaging work rule proposals off the table while securing real wage increases.” stated President Pickett. “Joining the CBG coalition proved to be an effective strategy for our members in this round of bargaining, and I am proud that our organization was a member.”

To read President Pickett’s full statement, please visit the BRS website here.

The six unions comprising the CBG include: the American Train Dispatchers Association; the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (a Division of the Rail Conference of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters); the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen; the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers, and Helpers; the National Conference of Firemen and Oilers / SEIU; and the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers. Collectively, the CBG unions represent more than 85,000 railroad workers covered by the various organizations’ national agreements.

ATDA ratifies the national mediated collective bargaining agreement

http://www.ble-t.org/pr/news/newsflash.asp?id=6042

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio, November 28 — The American Train Dispatchers Association (ATDA), a partner union of the Collective Bargaining Group (CBG), announced on November 27, 2017, that nearly two-thirds of its members voted for ratification of the national mediated collective bargaining agreement.

 

The final tally showed that over 62% of the membership voted in favor of ratification. ATDA members who ratified the contract work for the following: Belt Railway Company of Chicago; BNSF Railway; Conrail; CSXT; Indiana Harbor Belt; Kansas City Southern; Norfolk Southern; and Wisconsin Central.

 

The ATDA’s bargaining team consisted of President Leo McCann, Secretary-Treasurer Ed Dowell and Vice President Rory Broyles. As part of the CBG, they reached a tentative agreement with the nation’s freight rail carriers on October 6, 2017, following over two and a half years of bargaining.

 

The six unions comprising the CBG include: the American Train Dispatchers Association; the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (a Division of the Rail Conference of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters); the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen; the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers, and Helpers; the National Conference of Firemen and Oilers / SEIU; and the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers. Collectively, the CBG unions represent more than 85,000 railroad workers covered by the various organizations’ national agreements.

Denny D’S Did You

DENNY D’S DID YOU KNOW

ALTON & SOUTHERN TIMETABLE #6

 

Did You Know that the A&S recently issued a new timetable. Did You Know that if you cannot find a paper copy, that you can print one for yourself or download it to your electronic device through the MYUP portal. The A&S general orders and bulletins are also available for print or download as well. When operating on foreign railroads we are required to have these reference materials. The majority of the new timetable content that was already put out in previous general orders. With more people working north out the A&S than before a review of the old and new material will be beneficial to us all.

 

Operating On Foreign Railroads 

Did You Know that when operating on foreign railroads there is a rule that tells us which company’s rules to follow.

 

GCOR 1.14 tells us that we are governed by the following

Railroad Working For: Safety Rules, Air Brake and Train Handling, Hazmat.

Railroad Operating On: Operating Rules, Special Instructions, and Timetable.

 

For example, if you were in a yard of a railroad that allows getting on and off of moving equipment, you still could not because our safety rules do not allow it. Another example would be while operating on the BNSF to get to the New Madrid Sub, a red number plated signal is a Stop and Proceed at Restricted Speed indication because it is in their special instructions.

 

A&S Timetable Highlights 

 

Radio Display (Station Page)

MP 4.2 - 6.5  089-089

MP 6.5 - 21.0  044-044

 

St. Louis Horn and East SSWL Horn (SI-15 Gateway Yard)

Use minimum throttle while entire train is in horn, increase/decrease throttle one notch at a time with minimum of 20 seconds between notches.

 

St. Claire Crossovers MP 6.47 (SI-08 Rules Items)

Hand operated. No normal position, approach prepared to stop.

 

HN Cabin (Gateway Sub Supt. Bulletin 8)

IB Dispatcher is on 064-064 Tone 7#

 

Switch Point Indicator (Item 4A - 8.10)

Yellow: Normal

Lunar: Reverse

Red or Dark: Stop. Get permission to hand operate. Inspect. Operate toggle or hand operate even if lined for your movement. Report condition to Yardmaster.

 

Emergency Application (Item 4A - 6.23)

Same as UP. If there is an adjacent main track or controlled siding, announce emergency over radio and tone 911.

 

Releasing DTC Blocks (Item 4A - 16.7)

As with non-signal TWC, you must verify that your train is complete prior to reporting clear. If you do not have a reading on your EOT, someone must visually see your marker. If departing the property, you could have the Lenox operator let you know when they see your EOT.

 

Roadway Signs (Item 9)

If you look at Item 9, you will notice that they also have switch flags in their list of roadway signs.

 

Curve at Bunkhum Road (SI-14 Misc. Instr. Gateway Sub)

The curve underneath interstate 64 has a signal at each end. I have heard people call these curve indicators. While this is a good way to think of it, because they only govern the area between the opposing signals of the curve. The area between these opposing signals, Milepost 7.9 to 8.4, is Yard Limits/ABS. If the signal is Green it is a Clear. If it is Red it is a Stop and Proceed at Restricted Speed. It is critical to keep in mind, that the signal only governs the block between the opposing signals of the curve.  Once you go past the opposing signal you are back in non-signal yard limits which puts you back at restricted speed. A scenario to think about could be while operating south the Crest Yardmaster tells the train ahead of you at the power plant to come to Missouri Avenue and tells you come to the power plant. As you approach Bunkhum Road you see a clear signal. This indicates that the curve is clear. As you round the curve you could possibly the rear end of the train ahead or a red flag just beyond the the opposing northbound signal. That clear clear signal only told you that the curve was clear, it does not tell you what is beyond the northbound signal. 

 

A review of these A&S Timetable Instructions should help to keep all of us compliant and safe.

 

To access the material, go to MYUP - Open the Menu on the left - Reference - Rule Books - Books - Miscellaneous Books - Select a Book. From this drop down menu, you can access the A&S General Orders, Timetable, and Bulletins.

RTW Petition Signatures Certified

Missouri Secretary of State Johm Ashcroft has stated that enough signatures were collected to put RTW on the ballot in 2018.  The referendum needed 140,267 valid signatures to be placed on the ballot and 250,327 were collected.  Now the work begins to educate the voters so that we win this fight in 2018.  RTW supporters have already been campaigning to keep Missouri RTW.

Jefferson City, Mo. — Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft today issued a certificate of sufficiency certifying the referendum petition 2018-R002. The referendum petition will be placed on the November 6, 2018 ballot unless a different date is designated by the General Assembly.

The referendum petition was certified with a total of 250,327 valid signatures. Following is the breakdown of those signatures by Congressional District: 

Congressional District 1: Sufficient
Signatures Needed: 15,983
Total Signatures Submitted: 45,570
Valid Signatures: 32,098

Congressional District 2: Sufficient
Signatures Needed: 21,144
Total Signatures Submitted: 43,847
Valid Signatures: 37,218

Congressional District 3: Sufficient
Signatures Needed: 18,997
Total Signatures Submitted: 50,017
Valid Signatures: 46,219

Congressional District 4: Sufficient
Signatures Needed: 16,940
Total Signatures Submitted: 34,296
Valid Signatures: 26,781

Congressional District 5: Sufficient
Signatures Needed: 16,348
Total Signatures Submitted: 50,173
Valid Signatures: 26,628

Congressional District 6: Sufficient
Signatures Needed: 17,879
Total Signatures Submitted: 33,359
Valid Signatures: 29,148

Congressional District 7: Sufficient
Signatures Needed: 17,159
Total Signatures Submitted: 33,141
Valid Signatures: 25,008

Congressional District 8: Sufficient
Signatures Needed: 15,817
Total Signatures Submitted: 31,064
Valid Signatures: 27,227

 

The official language of the referendum is as follows:

Do the people of the state of Missouri want to adopt Senate Bill 19 ("Right-to-Work") as passed by the general assembly in 2017, which prohibits as a condition of employment the forced membership in a labor organization (union) or forced payments of dues in full or pro-rata (fair-share); make any activity which violates employees' rights illegal and ineffective; allow legal remedies for anyone injured as a result of another person violating or threatening to violate employees' rights; and which shall not apply to union agreements entered into before the effective date of Senate Bill 19?

 State and local government entities expect no costs or savings.

 

Full text of the announcement here: https://www.sos.mo.gov/default.aspx?PageId=9284

 

Pages