If you catch a UPS train, be sure to read your Form C System Bulletins page in your warrant for bulletins. It recently changed to say that the Northern Region will use PTC on these trains.


Also, with the PTC rule migrating from the Superintendent Bulletins to the System General it is important to read it. There have been a few changes, one of which is use of Energy Management with PTC. If your PTC screen states that ENERGY MGMT SETUP REQUIRED, you must initialize and run auto control on the PTC screen, not engineer’s control screen. If you are using PTC, do not log-into Trip Optimizer on the engineer’s control screen. This is a change from the Superintendent Bulletin that said to log into but not to utilize.



There should be a course in your learning plan that shows how to set up and use Leader and Trip Optimizer with the PTC screen. If it is not, you can add it yourself. PTC Integrated EM System (PTCEM)

Pay implementation

TO:   BLET & SMART-TD General Chairpersons:

Due to the increasing number of inquires our office is receiving regarding the 2017 National Agreement implementation with regard to new rates and back pay,  I thought I would give you an update.  Feel free to share this with your local leadership if you wish.  

Timekeeping has completed updating CMTS to reflect the 7/1/16 (2.0%) and 7/1/17 (2.0%) rate increases agreed to in the 2017 BLET & SMART-TD National Agreements.  The two rate increases will be implemented and show an effective date in CMTS of1/1/18 and reflect the compounded equivalent (4.04%) of the two rate increases.  All rate tables and trip rates have been updated.   We are still in the process of updating those classes of time (arb codes) that are subject to increase as well as guarantee rates. Everything will be completed before Jan 1st in order for CMTS to automatically apply the new rates for trips/claims that are initiated 1/1/18 or later. 

 Below is quick reference guide on how to look up rate tables and trip rates in case you wish to preview the new rates.  All chairpersons have access to the rate & trip rate screens.  If you have a question about how a rate was derived or believe there is a mistaken, please contact me directly.    At this time, we do not have a feature that would allow you to view future dated values for arbitraries and guarantees.  If there is a specific arb code or guarantee rate you are interested in knowing before January 1st, feel free to email me toward the end of the month. 


On another note, our goal is to have back pay computed and included with the first half January earnings for deposit on 1/25/18.  I want to reiterate this is a goal and we are doing everything we can to achieve that goal.   With the new rates being implemented on Jan 1, we cannot determine the final back pay amounts until after we close the last half of December payroll.  Due to Christmas and New Year holidays, internal vacations, and the complexity of this process, it is a challenging timeline, but one we hope to be able to meet. 


Brother Doug Frick asked me to pass along an issue regarding PTC with Form B’s. There has been a form B the past few nights on the Jefferson City Sub that starts at 18:00 and ends at 03:00. The limits are exactly the same milepost with the same foreman. However, it is actually two different Form B bulletin numbers. One covers from 18:00 to 00:00 and the other from 00:00 to 03:00. If you are going through at midnight, the PTC system will make you confirm clearance through each bulletin separately. 



Make for certain, that when you get your clearance, if you will be overlapping the time frame, to have the foreman clear you with both bulletin numbers. We are not supposed to select confirm on the screen until we have the actual clearance. With two separate bulletin numbers, managers could be a little nit-picky here. With Form B violations possibly resulting in a decertification, we don’t want to take any chances. 

Tax Bill Could Stop Railroad Unemployment and Sickness Benefits


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


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: 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.”





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.




File attachments: 

FRA - Part 240 & 242 - Pilot Flow Chart

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

Denny D’S Did You Know




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

Signalmen become second CBG union to ratify new national agreement

Signalmen become second CBG union to ratify new national agreement

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.