SMART Transportation Division Local 1405

President: Barry Klein      Legis. Rep. & Sec/Tres: Jason Hayden                                            Local-Chairpersons: Kale Warnhoff(trainmen) & Barry Klein(enginemen)


Flowback & Guarantee Extraboard Proposal - 12/19/2014

We have been given a new Flowback proposal and a new Conductor/switchman extraboard Guarantee proposal.

The Flowback Proposal is generally exactly the same as the Pilot Project that has occurred on the Illinois Division over the past year except that a few of the issues that have occurred are corrected by this proposed agreement (Section G and Side Letter #3).  It is important to note that the proposed agreement covers all of this Committee's territory including the Illinois Division and is a one year pilot project agreement should it be ratified.  This proposed agreement would apply to the entire territory and would need a majority of the votes returned to be ratified.

The proposed Guaranteed Extraboard Agreement is similar to the past agreement that was in place on portions of this territory.  The amount is significantly higher ($2147.45), however step rates do apply and it is still an 6 on 2 off rolling cycle.  This proposed agreement is not a yearly agreement and would remain in effect until modified should it be ratified.   This proposed agreement would apply to the entire territory and would need a majority of the votes returned to be ratified.

 

FLOWBACK

EXTRABOARD GUARANTEE

 

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Sept. meeting date change - 9/4/2013

Meeting Date Change!!

Sorry for the short notice!

The September SMART/UTU Local 1405 meeting scheduled for next Tuesday has been changed to Monday the 9th due to the number of folks attending and being able to use the room in the basement of Boogies.

As some of you have heard, possible furloughs will be discussed. There will also be info and explanation about the “new” coal work, how it is going to work and who needs a pilot and who doesn’t.

We will have info from the Railroad Retirement Board regarding who is eligible and how to claim your unemployment benefits.

We all understand that these are touchy subjects right now but we want to give you as much proper information as we can. So be sure to be there so that you can get the info you desire.

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Union Meeting - 7/7/2013

Our SMART/UTU Local meeting is Tuesday July 9th @ 6:30pm at Boogies in Maryville.

We will have our State Director Kenny Menges, Mark Hogan from DLC Jerry Schlichter's office, also Local FRA Inspectors will be in attendance to answer any questions or concerns.  All new-hires are also welcome to attend and hear what the FRA expects when we are performing Brake Tests and such. CLICK HERE FOR FLYER

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UTU Insurance Assoc. response to the BLEt insurance offer - 6/12/2013

The UTUIA Field Supervisors have put together a few concerns about the Short/Long term disability and Life insurance group plans being offered to BLEt members by the Cornerstone Assurance Group.  http://1405.utu.org/Files/%5B5324%5DInfo%20regarding%20the%20BLET%20insurance%20offer%202013.pdf

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Furlough Information - 1/18/2013

Here is a letter just sent out from GC Boswell containing information that he recieved recieved from the company concerning furloughs. According to the list he recieved, it will not effect anyone here in STL. If that changes or any more info becomes available, I will get it out as soon as possible.  Furlough Information Letter 

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Coal Train Mileage for 1st half of January - 1/18/2013
ST LOUIS/STAUNTON - COFFEEN POOL
 
 
IL-MO
SPSP
 
ST LOUIS
 
 
 
 
 
IL-MO
SPBD
 
BROOKLYN DIST
 
 
 
 
IL-MO
MCMC
 
ST LOUIS
 
 
 
 
 
IL-MO
MCBD
 
BROOKLYN DIST
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
01/01/13
THRU
01/15/13
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
ENGINEERS MILEAGE EQUITY
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Trips Worked
Total Miles
Miles Entitled
Pct Entitled
+/- Miles
 
 
Madison Dist
ILMO MCMC
11
1309
500
20.00%
809
 
 
Brooklyn Dist
ILMO MCBD
10
1190
1999
80.00%
-809
 
 
Total
 
21
2499
2499
100.00%
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Madison Dist
ILMO SPSP
0
0
0
45.00%
0
 
 
Brooklyn Dist
ILMO SPBD
0
0
0
55.00%
0
 
 
Total
 
0
0
0
100.00%
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Mileage Due Last Period
7307
 
Decatur Turns
St Louis Turns
 
 
Over/Under Miles
 
-809
 
1
1
 
 
Mileage Due This Period
6498
 
G20,"Decatur Gaining","St Louis Gaining ")"
St Louis Gaining
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Equity adjustment due when Decatur reaches 10000 or St Louis reaches 0 miles due
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  Keith Long
  Chief Crew Dispatcher
  Illinois Division
  Atlanta, GA 30309
 
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“Nurse line” offers answers to medical questions - 1/10/2013

“Nurse line” offers answers to medical questions

Members covered by Aetna, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield or UnitedHealthcare seeking information about treatment options, chronic conditions or answers to other health-related questions can call a “nurse line” for answers 24 hours a day, every day.

This free service can help you with losing weight, managing stress, quitting tobacco and much more. More importantly, the nurse line offers you information, motivation, encouragement, and the one-on-one support that can make a real difference in your health – to stay well, get well or manage a health condition. 

You or one of your dependents can call your plan’s nurse line for:

• Learn about any health topic that concerns you;

•Change a behavior, like smoking or overeating, that affects your overall health;

•Gather information about a recent diagnosis;

•Learn about symptoms for certain illnesses and diseases;

•Find out about your medications;

•Understand an upcoming test or procedure;

•Make an informed medical or surgical health care decision;

•Follow through with a treatment plan;

•Manage a chronic condition, like asthma or diabetes, more effectively;

•Understand treatment options;

•Learn how to handle symptoms to avoid emergency room visits;

•Find ways to reduce risks associated with the condition. 

To take advantage of this valuable resource, simply call the number on the back of your medical identification card anytime, or refer to the numbers below: 

Aetna: (800) 556-1555

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield: (888) BLUE-428

UnitedHealthcare: (866) 735-5685

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Conductor MC Pool vote - 11/15/2012

NOTICE!!!

At the December union meeting there will be a vote held regarding the establishment of a Conductor pool for the MC coal trains.

It was brought up at the meeting on Tuesday and decided that a vote would be held next month.  This is to allow time for discussion, and planning for those wanting to attend the meeting and vote.

If you are not able to attend the meeting due to being work then your vote will be accepted by sending an email to utulocal1405@gmail.com and stating either “YES” to establish or “NO” to not establish a MC conductor pool. 

 

 

www.utu1405.org

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I-70 Westbound Bridge Closure - 10/15/2012

Putting this link out there for any of you that will need to travel from St. Charles to St. Louis or reverse for work or fun anytime durring the next year.

Be sure and visit www.modot.org/blanchettebridge to be prepared for traffic impacts and plan your travel routes in advance of the westbound I-70 Blanchette Bridge renovations.
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Elections for Alternate LR and Trustee - 10/10/2012

At our November meeting we will be accepting nominations for the positions of Alternate LR and Trustee. We will also be talking about how to proceed with the SWITCHMAN'S EXTRA-BOARD. For more info on both Click Here.

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2012 General Election Endorsements - 10/1/2012

Here are the UTU General Election Endorsements for Missouri and Illinois.

We all have our personal reasons for, why we vote the way we do. But when it comes to our Jobs, Insurance, Work Rules, Protections, Security, and most importantly out Retirement, These are the candidates that will help us protect those rights.

Click here for Illinois Endorsements

Click here for Missouri Endorsements

 

 

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NOMINATION/ELECTION NOTICE - 9/19/2012

We will be holding nominations and elections for President and Vice President at our October and November meetings. See flyer below for info.

http://local-1405.utu.org/Files/[4971]Election%20notice%202012.pdf

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Union Meeting Change - 9/6/2012

The Local 1405 monthly union meeting scheduled for Tuesday the 11th, has been rescheduled for Tuesday the 18th.

We will have info from the UTU Regional meeting, Start program change info, and an update from the AFL-CIO convention being held next week in KC.

Also on the agenda will be discussion about two new Trainmen Guarantee Extraboard proposals that are available.

Sorry for the hectic meeting schedules this summer but they should fall back to normal after this month. SEE YOU ALL THERE!!!!

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BNSF Rule Books - 8/22/2012

Here are all the BNSF Rule books for those that work the coal trains. If anyone is having issues getting updated bulletins and slow order info, please let us know. We need Date, Time, and TM/YM name. Thank You.

BNSF Air-Brake & Train Handling Rules

BNSF GCOR Rules 8-1-2011

BNSF Special Instructions

BNSF Springfield DIV Timetable #8

 

 

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FRA, OSHA to coordinate safety complaints - 7/17/2012

FRA, OSHA to coordinate safety complaints

OSHA logo; OSHAFollowing almost 1,000 complaints from rail workers that they were improperly disciplined for reporting injuries or unsafe working conditions, the Federal Railroad Administration and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have forged an alliance to bring more pressure on railroads to stop the pattern of harassment and intimidation.

“The safety of railroad employees depends on workers’ ability to report injuries, incidents and hazards without fear of retaliation,” said OSHA.

Between 2007 and 2012, OSHA received more than 900 whistleblower complaints under the Federal Rail Safety Act, and almost 63 percent involved an allegation that a worker was retaliated against for reporting an on-the-job injury.

The Federal Rail Safety Act of 1970 extended whistleblower protection to employees retaliated against for reporting an injury or illness requiring medical attention. The Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 added additional requirements ensuring injured workers receive prompt medical attention. An employer is outright prohibited from disciplining an employee for requesting medical or first-aid treatment, or for following a physician’s orders, a physician’s treatment plan, or medical advice.

Retaliation, including threats of retaliation, is defined as firing or laying off, blacklisting, demoting, denying overtime or promotion, disciplining, denying benefits, failing to rehire, intimidation, reassignment affecting promotion prospects, or reducing pay or hours.

Under the coordination agreement, the FRA will refer railroad employees who complain of alleged retaliation to OSHA. OSHA will provide the FRA with copies of the complaints it receives under the Federal Rail Safety Act’s whistleblower provision, as well as any findings and preliminary orders that OSHA issues. The agencies will jointly develop training to assist FRA enforcement staff in recognizing complaints of retaliation, and to assist OSHA enforcement staff in recognizing potential violations of railroad safety regulations revealed during whistleblower investigations.

“This memorandum is a watershed moment for both railroads and labor alike,” said FRA Administrator Joe Szabo. “Securing a process that protects employees who report safety violations is critical to maintaining safety standards in the workplace.”

In recent months OSHA has ordered railroads to pay millions of dollars in sanctions for violating federal whistleblower protections. “Firing workers for reporting an injury is not only illegal, it also endangers all workers,” OSHA said. In imposing sanctions against Norfolk Southern in 2011, OSHA said the railroad’s culture of employee harassment and intimidation permitted the railroad to “maintain the appearance of an exemplary safety record.”

UTU designated legal counsel have pledged to investigate and assist UTU members in bringing complaints under these laws.

A rail employee may file a whistle-blower complaint directly with OSHA, or may contact a UTU designated legal counsel, general chairperson or state legislative director for assistance.

A listing of UTU designated legal counsel is available at:

http://utu.org/designated-legal-counsel

or may be obtained from local or general committee officers or state legislative directors.

To view a more detailed OSHA fact sheet, click on the following link:

www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA-factsheet-whistleblower-railroad.pdf

>>>
July Union Meeting - 7/6/2012

The July UTU Local 1405 Union meeting scheduled for the 11th has been postponed until Tuesday July 18th. Jason will be attending a conference for the SMWIA and should have some updates for us at the meeting. Come and find out some of the new things going on with the merger. See you then. Please pass this info along.

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Is Your Career at risk? - 6/11/2012

  It is undisputed that the railroad has a right to establish reasonable medical standards for each group of employees.  In fact, every employer has the right to establish reasonable medical standards for its employees.  It is also undisputed that the railroad has a right to know that every employee meets its medical standard both physically and mentally.  Should a question arise regarding one’s physical or mental condition, the railroad has a right to demand that an employee produce proof that he/she is in compliance with its medical standards.

 

          The fight is always about: (1) what is a reasonable standard; and (2) is the employee in compliance with the standard.  In years past, the railroad was in complete control of setting the standard.  For example, in years past a “reasonable medical standard” included a provision that prohibited a locomotive engineer who had high blood pressure, or a prior heart attack from operating a train in main line freight service.  The second issue was a fight between the doctors.  For example, the company doctor might say one’s back condition prevented him/her from lifting over 50 pounds while the treating physician might opine otherwise.

 

          Thus, one’s medical condition has and continues to be a great concern for a railroad worker, especially as one gets older.  Often employees live in fear because of a medical condition that if known by the railroad could result in removal from service.  For example an engineer with high blood pressure or a conductor with diabetes may worry that his/her long term career will end prematurely if the railroad finds out about the condition.   So they pay for the visits to the doctor out of pocket and they tell their spouse not to say a word to any co-workers about the condition for fear of dismissal. 

 

          Today, those fears are somewhat misplaced due to the passage of the American’s with Disability Act of 1991.  This Federal Law and other similar state laws now prevent the railroad from bad ordering an employee from work so long as their condition[1] does not prevent them from performing the essential functions of their job.  Further, the railroad is required to set forth the essential functions of each job in a job description, so that one knows exactly what he/she must be able to do. For example, an essential job function for a main line engineer is to be able to operate a train from the home to away from home terminal and return.  One with high blood pressure probably has a disability and thus covered by the act.  As long as he is able to operate the train, albeit with high blood pressure, it would be unlawful for the railroad to restrict him/her from the main line.

 

          Medical issues on the railroad have become increasing complicated.  Federal regulations now require that engineers have 20/40 vision, the ability to distinguish the primary colors and 70 degrees of peripheral vision.[2]   Similar provisions will soon be a reality for conductors[3] and the Federal Railroad Administration has proposed other physical standards for engineers and conductors.  In an effort to simply some of these issues I have prepared the following questions and answers.

 

  1. Q. My doctor released me as a conductor for full duty with a 50 pound lifting restriction.  Will the restriction prevent me from returning to work?

A.    No.  Lifting more than 50 pounds is not an essential function of the job of a conductor.  The major railroad’s job description state that lifting 50 pounds or more is required only “occasionally” and thus it is not an “essential” job function.

 

  1. Q. My doctor released me for duty as a conductor, but the release states that I cannot walk on uneven surfaces.  Will the restriction prevent me from returning to work as a conductor?

A.    Yes.  Walking on ballast, which is an uneven surface, is an essential function of the job of a conductor and thus, the restriction would prevent returning to work as a conductor.

 

  1. Q. I had knee replacement surgery and I now walk with a slight limp, but my doctor has given me a full release without restrictions.  Will the limp prevent me from returning to work as a conductor?

A.    No.  The ADA prohibits the railroad from discriminating and/or refusing to allow one to return to work because of a disability or a perceived disability.[4]  Thus, even if the person did not have a disability due to the knee replacement, a refusal to allow the person to return to work based on the perception of a disability, i.e. the limp would be unlawful.

 

  1. Q. I am diabetic, but my diabetic condition is fully controlled by taking insulin on a daily basis.  Could the railroad bad order me simply because I am diabetic and taking insulin?

A.    No.  A person whose physical or mental impairment is corrected by medication or other measures does not have an impairment that presently ‘substantially limits' a major life activity and thus, the person does not have a disability under the ADA.  However, the issue of the perception of a disability again arises to provide protection.  Even though the employee may not have a protected disability, refusing to allow the person to work, who can perform all of the essential function of the job just because the person is diabetic and taking insulin would be discriminatory based on “perception” and thus unlawful. 

 

  1. Q. Can the railroad pull me out of service and have me examined by a doctor of its choosing if a coworker complains that I have a limp that affects my work or that I am really forgetful?

A.    Yes.  The railroad always has a right to know that an employee is physically and/or mentally fit to perform the job.  Thus, if one’s physical or mental condition becomes an issue due to a co-worker complaint or from any other source; the railroad has a right to have the employee examined by a doctor of its choosing.[5]

 

  1. Q. What recourse do I have if the railroad pulls me out of service for a physical condition, has me examined and the company doctor says I cannot work because of the condition?

A.    First, one should see a doctor of their choosing to see if the doctor agrees with the opinion of the company doctor.  If your doctor agrees with the company doctor there is little that can be done at that point. If your doctor disagrees there are a couple of options:

a.     A claim for reinstatement and/or a request for a three doctor panel pursuant to the terms of the labor agreement can be made.  Most labor agreements have a provision providing for the establishment of a three doctor panel when there is a dispute between the company doctor and the employee’s personal doctor.  Typically the agreements provide that the company doctor and the employee’s doctor select a third doctor whose decision in the matter is final and binding.[6]

b.     Secondly, the person could file an ADA claim.  In order to file an ADA claim the person must first file a claim for disability discrimination with the EEOC within 300 days of the discriminatory act.  At some point thereafter the EEOC will probably issue a “right to sue” letter at which point the employee must file the actual lawsuit within 90 days.  If successful the employee could get his job back with backpay.

 

  1. Q. The railroad recently wrote me a letter advising it has serious concerns regarding my ability to safely perform my job duties due to the fact that I have ADD.  The railroad demands that I send them a copy of ALL of my medical records regarding my ADD condition.  Do I have to send them the records?

A.    Of course.  The railroad has a right to know that an employee is physically and mentally fit to do his or her work.  However, the burden to prove one’s has this ability is that of the employee.  Thus, if this railroad demands records of treatment to establish that the person is safe to do his/her work, the employee must get them.

 

  1. Q. Under the circumstances of question 7 above, is the employee required to sign a medical release so that the railroad can obtain the medical records of treatment?

A.    No.  The employee is not required to sign a medical release.  However, the employee must still provide the railroad with a copy of the records.

 

  1. Q. I have been an engineer for 25 years, but I recently lost the vision in my right eye due to glaucoma.  I have 20/20 uncorrected vision in my left eye.  Can the railroad prevent me from working as an engineer?

A.    Yes.   One must have 20/40 vision in both eyes and have a field of vision in the horizontal meridian of 70 degrees in order to be a locomotive engineer as mandated by the engineer certification standards.  However, the medical director of the railroad could override this requirement if he/she thought the engineer could safely do the job.[7]

 

  1. Q. Does a substance abuse problem qualify as a disability under the ADA?

A.    No.  A substance abuse problem does not qualify as a disability under the act.  Therefore one could not use the act to defend discipline for using drugs or alcohol.

 

  1. Q. Is sleep apnea considered a disability under the ADA?

A disability under the ADA a disability is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of an individual, a record of such impairment, or being regarded as having such an impairment.  A determination of a disability under the ADA is an individualized inquiry.[8]  However, the ADA would not be helpful, because staying awake at work is an essential function of the job.  Generally the ADA provides that an employer cannot discriminate against an employee who has a disability, so long as they can perform the essential functions of the job.  However, if the employee could not stay awake he/she cannot perform the essential functions.

 

  1. A. I have sleep apnea, but my problem is controlled with a CPAP machine.  Could the railroad prevent me from working because I have sleep apnea and I use a CPAP machine?

A.    Probably not.  So long as the person can stay awake at work and safely perform his duties, it would discriminatory to prevent the employee from working. 

 

  1. Q. May an employee take a non-narcotic prescription drug and work at the railroad in a safety sensitive position such as a conductor or engineer?

A.    Yes.  One may take prescription drugs and work at the railroad.  The issue is whether the employee can safely perform his/her work and take the medication.  However, many employees take a variety of pain and other medications and safely do their work.  GCOR rules do require one that is taking medication due to an injury to report the use of the medication to a manager.[9]

 

  1. Q. May one take a prescribed narcotic drug and work at the railroad?

A.    Yes.  One may take a prescribed narcotic drug and work at the railroad in a safety sensitive position so long as the drug does not affect the ability of the employee to work safely.  In order to work, the employee’s doctor or the medical director must approve the use of the drug while working.[10]

 

  1. Q. I worked as a hostler for ten years before going into engine service.  After promotion to engineer, I failed a color perception test and the railroad will not let me work.  What options do I have?

A.    The certification requirements for a locomotive engineer mandate the person be able to distinguish the primary colors.  Many individuals are color deficient and can thus see only portions of the reds, greens and yellows.  Regardless the individual must be able to distinguish the primary colors to work as an engineer.  One could potentially use chromatic lenses which help clear up the colors in good lighting, but the railroads have severely resisted the use of chromatic lenses, even though some arbitrators have sanctioned their use.[11]  However, one cannot use chromatic lenses to initially take the color perception test to become an engineer.[12]

 

  1. Q. If injured at work, what medical rights does the injured worker have?

A.     There are many:

a.     A railroad carrier may not deny, delay, or INTERFERE with the medical or first aid treatment of an employee who is injured during the course and scope of his employment.[13]   This is a new Federal law that became effective in 2008 and is commonly referred to as a “whistleblower” provision. 

                                                              i.     This clearly means an injured worker can see doctor of his/her choosing without interference from the railroad. 

                                                             ii.     It also means that the railroad cannot force an employee to see a company doctor. 

                                                           iii.     Further, the railroad may not interfere with the treatment plan prescribed by the employee’s treating doctor or the restrictions recommended by the treating doctor.

b.     If transportation to a hospital is requested by an employee who is injured during the course and scope of employment, the railroad shall PROMPTLY arrange to have the injured employee transported to the NEAREST hospital where the employee can receive safe and appropriate medical care.[14]

                                                              i.     This is a new Federal law that went into effect in 2008.  It was designed to prevent a railroad from taking an injured employee to a “contract” emergency room or to a doc in the box.

                                                             ii.     A railroad worker does not have to ask for transportation to a medical provider, nor accept transportation if offered from the railroad.[15]  However, if under the new law cited above, he/she asks for transportation to a hospital, the railroad shall promptly arrange to transport them to the nearest hospital where they can receive safe and appropriate medical care.

c.     A railroad carrier may not discipline or threaten discipline for requesting medical or first aid treatment.[16] 

                                                              i.     This is also a new Federal law that went into effect in 2008. 

 

Steve Young

Designated Legal Counsel

1300 Post Oak Blvd. Ste. 1750

Houston, Texas 77056

888 565 7245

syoung@tavorminayoung.com

www.tavorminayoung.com

© Copyrighted Material

 

About the author: 

Steve Young is a second generation railroad worker, having hired on with the Southern Pacific as a track laborer in 1970.  He subsequently worked for Southern Pacific as a Clerk, Train Order Operator, Train Dispatcher, Chief Train Dispatcher, Brakeman, Fireman and Locomotive Engineer.  He was also an elected union officer, serving as Local Chairman, General Chairman and Alternate Vice President. He was admitted to the state bar in 1993 and his practice is limited to representing injured railroad workers.  He has the unique honor of being the only attorney in Texas designated by both the BLET and UTU. 

 



[1] The condition must be a disability as defined by the act: “The ADA defines a disability as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of an individual, a record of such impairment, or being regarded as having such an impairment.” Sutton v. United Air Lines, Inc., 527 U.S. 471, 482-83, 119 S.Ct. 2139, 144 L.Ed.2d 450 (1999).

[2] 49 C.F.R. 240.121

[3] 49 C.F.R. Part 242, Conductor certification, scheduled to become effective January 1, 2012

[4] 42 U.S.C. 12111 et. Seq.

[5] See Third Division Award 28505 rendered in 1990 by Referee Simon

[6] These provisions are governed by the Railway Labor Act and thus the end result may be arbitration under the Railway Labor Act.  Further, when a dispute arises regarding the application of the agreement, the General Chairman is the person vested with the constitutional authority to interpret the agreement.

[7] See 49 C.F.R. 240.121 & Coleman v. Southern Pacific, 990 F. Supp. 1197 (1998)

[8] See Toyota Motor Mfg., Kentucky, Inc. v. Williams,  504 U.S. 184 (2002)

[9] See GCOR rule 1.2.5

[10] See 49 C.F.R. 219.103: (1) The treating medical practitioner or a physician designated by the railroad has made a good faith judgment, with notice of the employee's assigned duties and on the basis of the available medical history, that use of the substance by the employee at the prescribed or authorized dosage level is consistent with the safe performance of the employee's duties;

(2) The substance is used at the dosage prescribed or authorized; and

(3) In the event the employee is being treated by more than one medical practitioner, at least one treating medical practitioner has been informed of all medications authorized or prescribed and has determined that use of the medications is consistent with the safe performance of the employee's duties (and the employee has observed any restrictions imposed with respect to use of the medications in combination).

[11] See First Division Award 26970, November 2009 wherein the Board held the division did not have the authority to interpret the Federal Regulations (engineer certification); See Award 11, PLB 6681, rendered 2004 by Mr. Charles Fischbach.  There Mr. Fischbach held it was permissible to take a field test with chromatic lens.

[12] See 49 C.F.R. 240.121

[13] See 45 U.S.C. 20109(c)(1)

[14] 45 U.S.C. 20109(c)(1)

[15] See Award 93 PLB 94, Rendered by Chairman Preston J. Moore, 1983

[16] 45 U.S.C. 20109(c)(2)

>>>
Update from UHC - 5/18/2012
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Proposed Trainmen's Extraboard Guarantee - 4/30/2012

Sorry, about just putting this out. I was under the understanding that these were posted at all the locations. These are copies of the last two guarantee agreements that have been signed. Most everything in these will stay the same but parts can be changed, like the start and end times for the off days. For those that would still like to send in a vote we will leave it open until May 5th. To vote just send an e-mail to utulocal1405@gmail.com.

 

Buffalo Agreement

KC Agreement

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Medco now Express Scripts; no changes foreseen - 4/29/2012

Many UTU members obtain their prescription drugs through Medco, which has been acquired by Express Scripts following Federal Trade Commission approval of the corporate combination.

Notwithstanding the acquisition by Express Scripts of Medco, UTU members receiving mail order prescriptions through Medco will continue ordering and receiving their medications as they have in the past, without any changes.

All packaging and labels will remain the same, as will addresses and phone numbers for pharmacy-related questions and other information. Nor will there be a need to change retail pharmacies or alter home delivery orders in any manner.

The combined Express Scripts and Medco, known as pharmacy-benefit managers (PBMs), now control 40 percent of that market, according to the Economist magazine. PBMs, reported the Economist, encourage consumers to fill their prescriptions through the mail instead of going to a more costly pharmacy. 

Express Scripts recently launched a program, ScreenRx, which utilizes software to sift through hundreds of factors that affect patients and forecast who is most likely to forget a refill or simply stop taking their drugs. The company then plans to contact those patients to help them stick with their doctor’s orders.

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Special FRA and Joint union meeting. - 4/27/2012

FRA

Will be giving a presentation on the rules and regulations of:

Remote Control Locomotives

They will also answer Q’s about the new Conductor Cert. regulations.

Joint Union Meeting and FRA Presentation will be taking place on: MAY 16th at 6:00pm

Meeting will be held at the                  Sheet Metal Workers Local 36              new office and training center located at 2319 Chouteau Avenue St. Louis, MO.

DLC Jerome Schlichter will also be in attendance.

Local-1405’s regular meeting scheduled for May 9th will be postponed till the above meeting.

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Illinois Legislative Update - 3/10/2012

Attached is legislative update for this past week. The highlights are:
1. House Labor Halts Anti-Worker measures.
2. Romney Flip-Flops on Minimum Wage
3. General Assembly Comes Back March 21

Click Here.

Thanks Doug L. great info.

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Illinois Legislative Board Primary Endorsements for March 20 2012 - 3/9/2012

Illinois State Legislative Board has issued their endorsement list for the 2012 Primary Elections on March 20th.

Please look over this list to assist you in knowing who the Labor Friendly Candidates are in your area.

>>>
Joint Union Meeting - 3/9/2012

Just received info that a Joint Union Meeting is going to be held next Thursday, March 15 @ 6:30pm.

There will be discussion about the Remote Control job changes, Trainmans Guarantee Extraboard options, Conductor Certification and anything else that comes up.

The meeting will be at Boogies Restaurant in Maryville IL.

 

UTU Designated Legal Counsil John Papa will be sponsoring the meeting. (wings-drinks-etc.)

 

Hope to see everyone there!!!

 

The regularly scheduled meeting (Wed. March 14) of UTU Local 1405 is hereby postponed until the 15th.

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March Union Mtg. - 2/20/2012

ATTENTION

At our march union mtg. we will be discussing the option of possible guarantee for the switchman's extra-board, Coal trains, and call windows.

If you have any questions and/or concerns about these issues, this is the time to bring them up.

Meeting is at Boogie's in Maryville, IL @ 6:30pm on March 14th.

 

There will also be an update from the UTU Missouri Legislative Board Reorganization mtg. that will be held the week before in Jeff. City

 

 

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Good, Honest, and Fair Financial Info. - 2/1/2012

Jason,

Financial issues can be confusing—especially when there aren’t many places working folks can get unbiased, reliable information about investing and financial security.

We know that working families around the country face tough financial issues and would like good, honest, fair information. That’s why the National Labor College and the AFL-CIO have partnered to provide resources and answers at our new website: NLC InvestEd.

Visit our new website to learn about investing, good vs. bad debt and much more.

Most of us never had anyone take the time to teach us about the financial implications of credit card debt, a birth, a death, a wedding, a divorce or retirement. This is because there isn’t much financial education in the United States and most of it is by salespeople who would like us to buy their products.

NLC InvestEd is one of the few no-nonsense sites out there that isn’t promoting a financial product. It exists to help working families understand the concepts and tools that enhance everyone’s financial security, both now and in the future.

Some of the topics covered include:

  • Buying a home,
  • Children,
  • College,
  • Foreclosure,
  • Loss of a loved one,
  • Paying off debt,
  • Retirement and
  • Weddings.

Head over to NLC InvestEd and check it out.

As working people, our financial security is under threat and the AFL-CIO knows that having better information about financial issues is one more way we can push back. If you have questions about this new project, reply to this message and we'll do our best to answer them.

In Solidarity,

Zach Teutsch
Director, Investor Education Project
Office of Investments, AFL-CIO

P.S. Union members also can check out free credit education, the Save My Home Hotline and many other Union Plus financial services and tools here.


To find out more about the AFL-CIO, please visit our website at www.aflcio.org.

Click here to unsubscribe.

>>>
Act now to help Stop killer trucks. - 1/31/2012

Act now to help stop killer trucks

U.S. Capitol Building; Capitol Building; Washington D.C.Killer trucks are on the attack, with Congress considering a new highway bill that would permit longer and heavier trucks on the nation’s highways.

Aside from the safety concerns of motorists – and those concerns are significant and well known by automobile drivers who have been terrorized by tractor-trailers even at the current lengths and weights – there is the killer economic impact on railroad jobs.

The railroad industry estimates that were longer and heavier trucks permitted on the highways, almost one-fifth of rail traffic would be diverted – and the impact would be more than 40 percent of lost traffic for shortline railroads.

The argument of those advocating longer and heavier trucks – truck trains of three trailers being pulled by a single driver – is that there would be fewer total trucks, improved highway safety, less fuel used and less damage to pavement.

Each of these allegations is false.

Any motorist who has shared the road with truck drivers pulling two and three trailers – which now are permitted on limited segments of Interstate Highways – knows firsthand the danger to life and limb of truck trains that sway back and forth, blind vision with spray in wet weather, slow traffic when traveling in passing lanes and are difficult to pass when they are in the right lane.

By taking traffic off the rails, the amount of truck traffic actually will increase.

And as for pavement damage, as truck weights kill pavement, increasing pavement damage every mile they travel. The evidence is readily seen in the difference in pavement conditions between the right lane – where trucks mostly travel – and the left lane. Some cash-strapped states have even urged automobile drivers to stay in the left lane to avoid the rough surfaces in right lanes that states can’t afford to repair.

Indeed, tractor trailer combinations already underpay the actual pavement damage they cause, according to multiple studies by federal and state governments and university researchers. Were the weight of combination tractor-trailers permitted to increase nationwide from the current 80,000 pound limit to the almost 100,000-pound limit sought, those trucks would pay barely half of the pavement damage they cause, putting the increased cost burden on automobile owners.

By contrast, railroads pay to build and maintain every mile of their privately owned rail network. Thus, longer and heavier trucks, by taking traffic from the rails, would reduce the railroads’ ability to maintain their track network and likely cost untold thousands of rail jobs from the lost rail traffic.

More trucks would increase highway congestion at a time that Congress has been cutting investment in Amtrak.

There is neither common nor economic sense in Congress permitting longer and heavier trucks – and you can help stop this foolishness by contacting your congressional lawmakers. An initial vote on the proposal to increase truck lengths and weights could occur as early as Feb. 2 in the House.

Railroaders have helped stop the attack of killer trucks numerous times in the past, and it can be done again.

To send a courteous message to your House and Senate representatives to vote “no” against permitting longer and heavier trucks, click here. Select your state, then click on the name of your senators and representative. You then have the information necessary to send an email or fax, or make a telephone call.

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Missouri Governor Jay Nixon's News Release - 1/26/2012

January 26, 2012

Governor, bipartisan group of Senators, Representatives will work together to pass critical legislation to create jobs as rebirth of auto industry continues

Bipartisan coalition introduces Missouri Works auto supplier legislation, Gov. Nixon announces

WENTZVILLE, Mo. - The bipartisan Missouri Works strategy provides specific tools to create new jobs in the automotive supplier industry, Gov. Jay Nixon said today during a visit to Lear Seating Corp. in Wentzville.

In his State of the State Address last week, Gov. Nixon detailed Missouri Works, a specific strategy to create jobs and career opportunities in the new economy. A key pillar of Missouri Works is growing more auto supplier jobs across Missouri. 

This week, a bipartisan coalition of Senators and Representatives introduced legislation to implement the auto supplier proposal contained in Missouri Works. Sponsors of the Senate version of the bill, Senate Bill 691, include Minority Floor Leader Sen. Victor Callahan (D-Independence) and Sen. Kevin Engler (R-Farmington), chair of the Senate Financial and Governmental Organizations Committee.

The lead sponsor of the House version of the bill, House Bill 1455, is Rep. Chuck Gatschenberger, (R-Lake Saint Louis), chair of the House Local Government Committee. Other sponsors include House Speaker Steven Tilley (R-Perryville); Majority Floor Leader Tim Jones (R-Eureka); Rep. Jerry Nolte (R-Gladstone), the chair of the House International Trade and Job Creation Committee; House Minority Floor Leader Mike Talboy (D-Kansas City); House Assistant Minority Floor Leader Tishaura Jones (D-St. Louis); House Minority Whip Mike Colona (D-St. Louis); Rep. Stephen Webber (D-Columbia), ranking member on the House Economic Development Committee; and Rep. Bert Atkins (D-Florissant), chair of the House Labor Caucus.

"The rebirth of the American auto industry is underway here in Missouri, and we have an unprecedented opportunity to grow and expand the auto supplier network throughout our state," Gov. Nixon said. "As Ford and GM invest a combined $1.5 billion to create 3,200 new jobs in Missouri, we must build on this investment to expand our network of existing suppliers and bring new suppliers to the state. Our bipartisan Missouri Works strategy includes specific tools to grow new auto supplier jobs in Missouri, and I look forward to working with folks on both sides of the aisle to get this bill to my desk as quickly as possible."

This bipartisan legislation will provide economic tools to help existing automotive suppliers expand and to bring new suppliers to our state. Under the legislation, suppliers will be eligible for economic incentives if they meet specific requirements for job-creation and capital investment. Employers must pay wages equal to or above the county average and provide health insurance benefits to employees.

Automotive suppliers considering expansion in or relocation to Missouri can obtain information about state incentives, training programs, the state's business climate and more at the state of Missouri website, MO.gov.

"Missouri's automotive industry touches every corner of our state, from our biggest cities to the rural and outskirt areas I represent. Auto suppliers provide jobs for tens of thousands of Missouri workers, and at this critical time, we have the opportunity to create good-paying jobs for even more," Sen. Engler said. "This legislation will give us new tools to bring more supplier jobs to smaller communities all across our state, and I'll work closely with colleagues from both parties to get this important bill across the finish line."

"The investment by major auto manufacturers like Ford gives us a tremendous opportunity to create jobs at suppliers in Kansas City and across our state," Sen. Callahan said. "I look forward to working with Gov. Nixon and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass legislation to take advantage of this once-in-a-generation opportunity for middle-class Missouri families."

"Two years ago, legislators on both sides of the aisle came together to pass the Missouri Manufacturing Jobs Act, which has sparked dramatic growth in our state's auto industry," Speaker Tilley said. "This year, as Ford and GM make historic investments in Missouri, we are committed to coming together once again to help our auto supplier network grow. We look forward to working closely with Gov. Nixon and legislators from both parties on this critical priority."

"Creating jobs and putting Missourians back to work is our top priority," said Rep. Talboy, the House Democratic Leader. "This bipartisan legislation will give us important new tools to help existing auto suppliers expand and to bring new suppliers to our state during a time of critical growth in our automotive industry. We commend Gov. Nixon for his leadership on this vital legislation, and we will work with him and with our Republican colleagues every step of the way."

Lear Seating Corp. is one of the leading manufacturers of vehicle seats and works with automakers around the world, supplying completed seats for not only cars, trucks and vans but also premium cars and performance vehicles. The company supplies the seats for the General Motors full-size van operations in Wentzville and has been doing business in Missouri since 1996.

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Article VI Notice has been served on NS - 1/23/2012

Article VI Notice has been served

Below you will find a copy of the letter served on Norfolk Southern by four UTU General Chairmen to commence on-property negotiations under the provisions of Article VI of the September 16, 2011 UTU National Agreement.  Our intent is to bargain collectively as a group rather than individually.  I will keep you apprised of future developments.

File: 
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Change in BLEt Disability Policy - 1/23/2012

Change in BLEt Disability Policy

Below is a letter from BLEt Disability Plan Administrator William Thompson outlining the changes to the policy that affects engineers.  Engineers who are covered under the NS Agreement provided policy should note these changes for any future claims.

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Guaranteed Extra Boards - 1/23/2012

Guaranteed Extra Boards

Recently two locations have agreed to putting in place guaranteed extra boards involving a 6 day on 2 day off cycle.  Below are the agreements for Buffalo (currently in place as of January 1, 2012) and Kansas City (will be in place February 1, 2012).  A few other locations on Norfolk Southern already had similar boards in place that dictated precedence for guarantee pay and some other conditions.  However, we were able to negotiate some minor changes that benefitted both locations. 

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E-mail regarding additional work and jobs at Wentzville - 1/19/2012
From: Crawley, Melvin L.
Sent: Wednesday, January 18, 2012 3:35 PM
To: Dowe, Rudy; TN FLD IL StL Trainmasters
Subject: GM Wentzville
 
Rudy :
 
Reference our conference call with Jerry Smith GM Wentzville today .  Listed below is GM Wentzville new switching requirements  for servicing  their plant and outbound ramp.
 
Plant Switch Times:
1-      6:15AM Switch Body , Trim and Chassis Tracks
2-      12:01PM Switch  Body and Chassis Track
3-      5:45PM Switch Body , Trim , Chassis Tracks
4-      10:00PM Switch Body and Chassis Tracks
 
Outbound Ramp Switch Times :
1-      6:00AM have  6 ramp tracks spotted for loading
2-      9:00AM  pull and spot 3 tracks
3-      11:00AM pull and spot 3 tracks
4-      1:00PM pull and spot 3 tracks   
 
Inbound Ramp Switch  Times:
1-      6:00AM have 6 ramp tracks spotted for unloading
 
 
In order to meet GM Wentzville new switching requirements we will have to add two  additional crews to switch the plant and outbound ramp.  Utility positions will be added to assist one man crews complete 3 outbound switches in 2 hours.
 
 
Melvin L. Crawley
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New IL website shows rail plans - 1/19/2012

Illinois kicks off state rail plan development with new website


 

The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) has launched a new website to inform stakeholders and the public on development of the state’s new rail plan.

The rail plan will “identify anticipated trends, needs and issues that will affect rail service and demand over the next two or three decades,” IDOT officials said in a prepared statement. “The plan will provide a long-range framework for meeting the various needs of passenger rail and freight services within the state.”

The website includes details on issues to be studied, a schedule of the process, and information on how the general public and stakeholders can participate in the plan.


Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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Illinois AFL-CIO Endorsements for the 2012 Primary Elections - 1/12/2012

Below is a link for the 2012 Primary Election endorsement list from the Illinois AFL-CIO. 

AFL-CIO Endorsements

>>>
NS Rule Books - 1/12/2012
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Marcellus Shale means more traffic for Class Is, short lines - 12/22/2011

Gas exploration and drilling in the Marcellus Shale means more traffic for Class Is, short lines


 

— by Julie Sneider, assistant editor Progressive Railroading 

Natural gas exploration across the Marcellus Shale geologic formation in the Northeast has triggered an economic boom in some rust-belt regions that had been mired in recessionary times for decades.

Technological advancements in horizontal drilling and the process known as hydraulic "fracturing" in recent years have helped energy producers tap into the vast amount of natural gas trapped underneath the Marcellus Shale, which stretches from Ohio to West Virginia, and across Pennsylvania and southern New York.

In Pennsylvania alone — where much of the drilling has occurred since 2008 — Marcellus Shale natural gas development generated $11.2 billion in the "regional equivalent of gross domestic product, contributed $1.1 billion in state and local tax revenues, and supported nearly 140,000 jobs" in 2010, according to a July 2011 report by Pennsylvania State University's Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering. The report was prepared for the Marcellus Shale Coalition, an organization that supports gas development in the shale formation.

Gaining Speed

In terms of production in 2010, the Marcellus averaged 1.3 billion cubic feet equivalents per day of natural gas, including dry natural gas and petroleum liquids, the report states. In addition, Marcellus producers "plan to spend significantly more" on gas exploration and drilling in 2011 and 2012, which will generate more than $12.8 billion in "value added revenue in 2011," with employment in the state expanding to more than 156,000 jobs in 2011 and 180,000 jobs in 2012 to support Marcellus activity, the report estimates.

For the Class I and short-line railroads that operate within Marcellus Shale territory, all that activity has resulted in a spike in demand primarily for "frac" sand, but also pipe, chemicals and other materials needed for the drilling process. As drilling spreads across the formation — at an expected rate of about 43 percent over the next two years — the possibile impact on traffic is significant, railroad officials say.

"We see the potential for strong growth," CSX Corp. spokesman Gary Sease said in an email.

Since 2008, CSX's Marcellus business has doubled; in 2011, the Class I is expected to handle about 13,000 carloads, Sease said. Most of those carloads are filled with sand used in the fracturing process, whereby water, sand and chemicals are pumped into the well bores under high pressure to crack the rock and release the gas deposits.

For Canadian Pacific, Marcellus gas exploration has become part of the Class I's overall strategy for growth in the energy industry, said CP spokesman Mike LoVecchio in an email. Over the past 12 months, CP has moved an additional 3,400 carloads — mostly frac sand — related to Marcellus Shale drilling, he said.

Prepared To Meet Demand

The company is "well positioned to participate" in Marcellus development through access to transload facilities, including those in Taylor, Pa., and Binghamton, N.Y., he said.

"Transload facilities and supporting infrastructure, such as sidings, have been built to meet the demand," said LoVecchio.

The Class I anticipates "volumes to remain constant" until the state of New York allows for hydraulic fracturing, which would provide additional opportunity for CP, LoVecchio said.

"Canadian Pacific's network reaches key energy markets," he said. "CP is also positioned to move inbound material for construction and to aid with the drilling and exploration, such as frac sand. CP is the only North American railway to directly service the Alberta Industrial Heartland, the Bakken formation and the Marcellus Shale."

Meanwhile, Norfolk Southern Railway is registering explosive growth in activity across the region, according to NS. Carloads have risen from 6,000 in 2009 to 24,000 in 2010. By August 2011, the Class I's Marcellus Shale business exceeded 2010 levels by 3,000 carloads, NS officials have said.

"It's a pretty significant jump in volume," says Rob Robinson, NS assistant vice president for commercial development and the railroad's short-line marketing manager. "Who would have thought the railroad industry would participate in anything related to the gas industry? We are developing a market that didn't exist."

The shale business is exciting for short lines, too. In Pennsylvania, NS has partnered with 18 short lines to serve the shale, including Buffalo & Pittsburgh Railroad (BPRR), which has logged a 180 percent increase in carloads of Marcellus Shale-related commodities such as frac sand, liquid gases, pipe and drill cuttings during the past two years, says Michael Miller, chief commercial officer for Genesee & Wyoming Inc. (GWI), which owns the BPRR.

"Over the past two to three years, we have added 14 transload facilities — most of them supporting frac sand," says Miller. "We have an additional five to eight facilities planned for future development, if needed."

BPRR also has upgraded idle yards and idle sidings to accommodate shale traffic. The railroad has analyzed additional track capacity where needed for the transload facilities. In some cases, BPRR partnered with third-party operators to co-develop the transload facilities, bringing in track, ballast and ties. The business expansion also required BPRR to increase its workforce by 10 percent to 15 percent, says Miller.

Location, Timing Are Key

The short line's geographic location combined with good timing have helped the railroad obtain more business in western Pennsylvania. Gas extracted from the Marcellus Shale is liquids-rich, including by-products such as liquid petroleum gas, butane and propane that provide additional revenue streams for producers. As a result, western Pennsylvania is attracting more attention from producers than areas with dry gas, says Miller.

For BPRR parent GWI, the Marcellus Shale exploration is in the short-line holding company's top three growth markets, Miller says. And since GWI's footprint covers a number of shale formations, "there will be opportunities for us to leverage our experience with the Marcellus Shale and grow that across our franchise," he says.

For some short lines, the shale business has been a lifeline during tough economic times. During the past year, local newspapers in Ohio and West Virginia — where exploration of the Utica Shale formation has begun — and Pennsylvania have been filled with accounts of the drilling's impact on short lines racing to accommodate the energy companies' need for materials. The "Marcellus Drilling News," a website launched by landowner groups, contains daily news reports of the shale activity. And in March, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported the story of Wellsboro & Corning Railroad in Wellsboro, Pa. Cargo traffic for the 35-mile short line "has nearly tripled" during the past two years, according to the newspaper.

Shale fracturing will reshape the nation's energy position globally, and "it's reshaping the small-railroad universe," said American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ALSRRA) President Richard Timmons during Progressive Railroading's RailTrends® 2011 conference in New York City on Nov. 1.

The opportunity for railroads is vast. Consider: Freight requirements for Marcellus drilling efforts between 2010 and 2012 are anticipated to include 10 billion tons of frac sand, seven to 12 billion gallons of water, 2.5 billion gallons of brine water discharge, 750,000 tons of well pipe and 250 tons of pipeline, Timmons said.

Gauging Customers' Needs

The Reading, Blue Mountain & Northern Railroad (RBMN) already is experiencing a bump in business thanks to Marcellus activity, which RBMN officials first learned about in spring 2009, said President Wayne Michel in an email.

To ramp up for shale-related business, the eastern Pennsylvania regional gauged customers' interest and needs, then responded by reengineering its 140-year-old Pittston Yard near Scranton, Pa., into a "state of the art" frac-sand transload center for Marcellus Shale business, according to a recent RBMN newsletter. The center serves as a location for transloading frac sand from rail to truck, storage for rail cars, and laydown space for pipe and other materials needed for drilling after delivery by rail.

The December 2009 opening of the Pittston terminal provided RBMN "with a sizeable new customer to go with our already existing diverse traffic base," said Michel. "Over the next 18 months, we anticipate substantial growth in our frac sand business. Long term, we anticipate handling other shale-related commodities."

The overall growth in business, including but not limited to the Marcellus Shale-related work, has prompted RBMN to expand its workforce, Michel added.

"We believe the shale business will grow to be one of the five pillars of our success in the freight business," said Michel. "As such, it enables us to continue our strategy of diversification, which is critical for the success of a short-line railroad."

The Marcellus gas exploration's impact on the Susquehanna Economic Development Association Council of Governments Joint Rail Authority (SEDA-COG JRA) in Lewisburg, Pa., has been "significant" since 2009, says Jeff Stover, executive director. SEDA-COG JRA owns five short lines operated through a public-private partnership with North Shore Railroad Co.

Rail traffic is up about 20 percent, although not all that growth is related to the Marcellus Shale, Stover says. Some of the authority's lines operate in counties that "have yet to see the boom" in shale-related traffic, and "we understand the big waves" in gas exploration won't hit until 2012 or 2013, he says.

But when those waves do hit, the authority expects its lines will be ready.

"We are building facilities and infrastructure," Stover says, noting that the authority has about $25 million in infrastructure projects in the works. Those projects are being funded through a variety of sources, including a $10 million federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery II grant to expand railroad infrastructure to accommodate new traffic generated by Marcellus development, he says.

Drilling's Pros And Cons

Not only has gas exploration been a boon for railroads, it's brought a much-needed lift to some communities that haven't seen such high levels of economic activity since before the steel-belt recession decades ago, Class I and short-line officials say.

"Now you go up there [to Pennsylvania] and all the hotels are full," says NS' Robinson, who speaks daily with short-line and regional railroads that haul the sand, piping and other materials to well sites. "You go to the car dealerships and all the trucks are sold out because the gas companies are buying everything. And the restaurants are full and the economies are robust."

Not all the activity has been welcome in all areas, however. As with any form of oil or gas drilling, certain environmental groups have objected. In the shale's case, they're concerned about hydraulic fracturing's potential impact on drinking water quality. Other Marcellus opponents object to the effect of drilling on the rural landscape.

NY Moratorium To Go?

In New York, the state's moratorium on drilling remains in place until environmental concerns are addressed and regulations are written. But, rail industry representatives say they believe it's a matter of time before the moratorium is lifted. The nation's demand for new and less expensive sources of energy — as well as the jobs that come with energy production — will result in more Marcellus Shale-related business for the foreseeable future, they say.

"This is not a ‘one and done' thing, where it's here today and gone tomorrow," says Robinson. "I believe it will be a long-term, sustainable market for the railroads."


>>>
OSHA orders Union Pacific to reinstate and pay terminated whistleblower employee - 12/21/2011

US Labor Department's OSHA orders Neb.-based Union Pacific Railroad Co. to
reinstate, pay more than $300,000 to terminated whistleblower employee in Idaho

SEATTLE – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has ordered Omaha, Neb.-based Union Pacific Railroad Co. to immediately reinstate an employee in Idaho who was terminated after reporting a work-related injury. OSHA also has ordered the company to pay the employee more than $300,000 in back wages, compensatory damages, attorney's fees and punitive damages.

The employee filed a whistleblower complaint with OSHA, alleging suspension without pay and then termination 23 days after notifying the company of an on-the-job injury. OSHA's investigation found reasonable cause to believe that the disciplinary charges and termination were not based on the complainant breaking a work rule but on the complainant reporting an injury to the railroad, in violation of the Federal Railroad Safety Act's whistleblower protection provisions. Union Pacific Railroad Co. was found to have similarly violated the FRSA in four other cases elsewhere in the U.S. since 2009.

"This case sends a clear message that OSHA will not tolerate retaliation against workers for reporting a work-related injury. An unreported injury is an uninvestigated injury. Nothing is learned that can help prevent the next injury," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels. "The safety of all workers is endangered when employers intimidate injured workers so that they do not report injuries."

In addition to reinstatement and monetary compensation, OSHA has ordered the railroad to refrain from retaliating against the employee for exercising rights guaranteed under the FRSA.

OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the FRSA and 20 other statues protecting employees who report violations of various securities, trucking, airline, nuclear, pipeline, environmental, public transportation, workplace safety and health, consumer product safety, health care reform and financial reform laws. Under these laws enacted by Congress, employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who raise various protected concerns or provide protected information to the employer or to the government. Employees who believe that they have been retaliated against for engaging in protected conduct may file a complaint with the secretary of labor for an investigation by OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Program. Detailed information on employee whistleblower rights, including fact sheets with information on how to file a complaint with OSHA, is available online at
http://www.whistleblowers.gov.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit
http://www.osha.gov.

Editor's note: The U.S. Department of Labor does not release names of employees involved in whistleblower complaints

>>>
Rail Rights info from DLC Steve Young - 12/20/2011

 

 
 

TAVORMINA & YOUNG LLP

YOUR LEADER IN RAIL RIGHTS

 

 

STEVE YOUNG RAIL RIGHTS ENEWS

 CONDUCTOR CERTIFICATION

The new FRA regulations requiring conductors to be certified goes into effect January 1, 2012.  Those eligible to work as conductors as of January 1, 2012 will automatically be certified, but will have to re-certify before June 1, 2015.  Some highlights of the new regulation:

1. Each person eligible to work as a conductor as of January 1, 2012 will be given a certificate by March 1, 2012.

2. Those re-certifying will have up to three years to pass the testing requirements for certification.

3. Vision: Conductors must now have 20/40 corrected/uncorrected vision in both eyes and be able to recognize and distinguish the railroad signals.  

4. Hearing:  One must not have an average hearing loss in the better ear greater than 40 decibels with or without the use of a hearing aid.

5. Driving record:  Conductors must allow the railroad to review their driving record for drugs and alcohol violations, such as DWI's.  However, the railroad cannot consider any violation that occurred prior to January 1,2 012.

6. After January 1, 2012 conductors must report a refusal to blow for a DWI or completed state action (conviction/plea bargain) regarding a drug or alcohol conviction to the railroad within 48 hours.  Once the report is made the conductor must meet with an SAP counselor and abide by the counselor's recommendations with regard to a treatment plan.  If the conductor is deemed to not have a drug or alcohol problem he/she may continue to work.

7.One who loses his/her certification as an engineer cannot work as a conductor while de-certified as an engineer, but they could work as a brakeman or some other trainman position that is not certified.

8. One who is loses his/her conductor's certification cannot work as an engineer, unless the de-certification is for a specified safety regulation, such as a shoving rule violation.  

If you would like to take a look at our questions and answers regarding the new regulations, check out our library at tavorminayoung.com.  We have 30 simple questions and answers that covers most of the regulation as well as the entire regulation posted there.  

T&Y Logo

MEDICAL INSURANCE CHANGES 
Dear Kenny,

THE NEW MEDICAL COVERAGE
 
Effective January 1, 2012 those covered by the UTU agreement will have changes to their medical coverage.  Some highlights:
1. The member contribution will be reduced to $200. per month and will remain at $200. per month through June 30, 2016.  After that it can be raised by $30. per month.
2. There is will be a $200. annual deductible for a member and a $400. annual deductible for a member's family.  This applies only to non-copay events, such as MRI's, X-rays and other non-copay events.  Note that if the member meets his deductible early in the year and thereafter the family receives treatment the family deductible will be reduced to $200.
3. There is an annual co-insurance payment which is 5% of a non-copay event not to exceed $1000. for a member and $2000. for a family.  If a member receives treatment and pays his/her $1,000. and then the family has treatment and incurs a co-insurance payment, the family's co-insurance payment is reduced to $1,000.
4.There is now a $75. co-pay for an emergency room visit, unless the visit results in an admission.  There is a $20. co-pay for urgent care centers and a $10. co-pay for convenient care centers.
5. Drugs: $5. co-pay for in network generic drugs; $25. for in network brand name drugs; and $45. for in network drugs not on the formulary list of drugs.
 
For those covered under the BLET agreements, a proposed new agreement is in the mail.  The new proposal if ratified would provide a very similar agreement that would be phased in as follows:
1. The annual deductible and co-insurance would begin at 50% effective July 1, 2012.  Thus, the deductible would be $100. for a member and $200. for a family.
2. The co-insurance would be $500. for a member and $1,000. for a family.  
3. Effective January 1, 2013 the annual deductible and co-insurance would be raised to 75% and then on January 1, 2014 it would be raised to 100%.
 
There are no changes for those who have on the job injuries.  The medical coverage will still pay for all on the job injuries without railroad approval or permission.  The injured worker has the absolute right to seek medical and treatment from any doctor he or she chooses without interference from the railroad.  The injured worked is not required to see the company doctor for treatment of an on the job injury.  In fact, it is a violation of Federal Law for the railroad to interfere with an employee's treatment and care of an on the job injury.
 
If you would like to view a power point regarding the changes to the medical coverage, take a look at our library at tavorminayoung.com.
    
DRUG & ALCOHOL TESTING IN 2012
 
The DOT recently mandated that employers must randomly test 25% of the railroad workforce for drugs  and 10%  for alcohol in 2012.
 
TAKING PICTURES OF THE WORKPLACETaking a picture    
On of the really great benefits of the new law regarding electronic devices was a provision that allows employees to take pictures and video at the workplace.  The law provides that an employee may take a picture of any "safety hazard" or any condition that is in violation of a rail safety law, regulation, order or standard.  The law does not define safety regulation and thus this would apply to just about any condition that appears to be a safety hazard.  Pictures or video of these conditions can even be taken while on a moving train, by anyone other than the engineer operating the train.  One cannot use a cell phone to take the pictures or video and the device must be turned off immediately after the picture or video is taken.
However, this is a great right for a railroad worker.  Prior to this law there were no laws in place that provided for a right to take pictures or video of the workplace.  Now there is a Federal Law that clearly provides this long needed right.  A picture is still worth a thousand words and it is a great way to keep the workplace safe and to show a jury the cause of an injury.  
Put a stand alone camera in your grip and keep it with at all times, to protect your rights.
 
Steve head shot 2010
Want to join our mailing list?  Go to http://tavorminayoung.com/
BRIEFLY
 
Would you like to review the OSHA manual on how to conduct a railroad whistleblower case?  We have it posted on our website at: Whistleblower manual
 
Railway Labor Act

Got a question about the Railway Labor Act.  Do you know why your claims are handled as they are?  Want to know why it is so hard to strike?  Take a look at our on line education series for a short precise video presentation on this subject.  Go to tavorminayoung.com and check out the library.
 
INVESTIGATION
 
Got a tough investigation coming up?  Not sure what to do.  Take a look at our on line video seminar NO RULES.  This method teaches you how to win.  Don't pass it up.

 
HAPPY HOLIDAYS

Happy Holidays from all of us at Tavormina Young.  We appreciate your support and look forward to serving you in 2012.  We have a great staff to assist you as your designated legal counsel:
Andy Carrola
Danny Mullen
Joe Chidgey
Alice Martinez
Karen Stone
Melinda Lopez
Julie Hilshey
John Tavormina
Kim Brown
Steve Young
Our Houston office will be closed from noon on December 21-January 2, 2012, but we are all available by cell phone anytime:
Andy 713 818 5217
Dan 817 202 5527
Joe 210 365 6995
Steve 713 253 9600
HAPPY HOLIDAYS!


Rail Rights II

 

 

We are sold out of Rail Rights II.  The book has been a big hit and we many copies.  However, we are having a second printing of the book and it will be available by March 2012. 

 

 

>>>
Conductor killed in Texas - 12/20/2011
Conductor killed when Navasota River bridge crossbeam knocks him off
·          
·         Monday, December 19, 2011 11:52 AM
A 41-year-old train conductor fell 50 feet to his death after Grimes County authorities said he was outside an engine car, leaned over the rail of a catwalk to check fuel levels and was struck by a crossbeam on a Navasota River bridge.
Stacy Lee Rieger — who lived in Lumberton, which is in Hardin County — had worked for BNSF Railway for four and a half years.
The Burlington Northern Santa Fe train had stopped in Somerville and was headed east to Conroe when the incident unfolded just after 7:30 p.m. Sunday not far from River Haven Subdivision, which is off Texas 105.
Grimes Sheriff’s Department Capt. Blake Jarvis said three employees were onboard when the engineer asked the conductor to check the fuel levels.
“The train was in transit as the conductor leaned over while outside the train just as it was passing over a metal trestle, which is very narrow,” Jarvis said. “Once hit, he was thrown from the train.”
His body was discovered on the banks of the river and was taken to Nobles Funeral Home.
Sheriff Don Sowell, who has served more than three decades in law enforcement, said he’s never heard of such an incident.
“It’s an unbelievably freak accident,” Sowell said.
 
Updated: 4:56 AM Dec 19, 2011
Train Conductor Falls to His Death in Grimes County
A train conductor is dead after officials say he fell 50 feet off of a train in Grimes County.
Posted: 3:41 AM Dec 19, 2011
Reporter:
KBTX News Staff
Email Address:
news@kbtx.com
 
 
 
 
 
A train conductor is dead after officials say he fell 50 feet off of a train in Grimes County.
Authorities with the Grimes County Sheriff's Office discovered the body of a white male near Highway 105, along the Navasota River, behind the River Haven Subdivision in Navasota.
Authorities say, he had stepped out of the engine room to check fuel levels while the train was traveling eastbound on the tracks.
He was leaning over the rails when he was struck by a crossbeam from a passing train trestle.
The conductor was thrown from the train and fell approximately 50 feet, where authorities later discovered him.
The victim had sustained massive head trauma.
He was taken to Nobles Funeral Home in Navasota.
>>>
Conductor Cert. Information - 12/11/2011
UTU-MO Logo    

UTU-Missouri State Legislative Board

 

Conductor Certification

 

   

CONDUCTOR CERTIFICATION

Enhanced Professionalism and Safety

 

The Federal Railroad Administration has issued its final rule on Conductor's Certification as required by the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008.  The new rule, Part 242 of the Code of Federal Regulations becomes effective January 1, 2012.

 

  • All conductors who are employed January 1, 2012, will be grandfathered and will be considered certified.  The Carriers have three(3) years to recertify these employees. 

 

  • While the railroad and its employees must comply with the final rule, there is no limitation on any rights the employee may have under a collective bargaining agreement.

 

  •  Each railroad, in submitting its proposed certification program to the FRA for approval, must simultaneously submit it to the presidents of the UTU and BLET, which will have 45 days to comment. The intent is to encourage coordination by carriers with local union officers in formulating the certification program, and to gain a supporting statement from the general committee of jurisdiction.

 

  •  A conductor losing certification may work as an assistant conductor, brakeman, yard helper, switchman or utility employee, but cannot work as a locomotive engineer. If that individual holds both conductor and engineer certification, and the engineer certification is revoked, they may not work as a conductor.

 

  • If the conductor certificate is revoked because of failing to control a train, violation of train speed, violation of brake test requirement, occupying main track without proper authority, tampering with safety devices, or an alcohol or drug violation, the decertified conductor may not work as a locomotive engineer. However, if the decertification is for violation of a rule covering shoving or pushing movements, or equipment left out to foul track, switches and derails, the decertified conductor may work as a locomotive engineer.  
     
  • The conductor must be trained by a qualified person on the territory over which that conductor will operate. If the certified conductor lacks territorial qualification, and has never been qualified on main track physical characteristics, that conductor shall be assisted by a person who is a certified conductor qualified on the territory, and NOT a member of the crew.

 

  • If the conductor has been previously qualified over the main track territory, and the time limits have expired on their qualification, the conductor may be assisted by any knowledgeable person, including a member of the crew, other than the locomotive engineer on the crew, so as not to conflict with other safety sensitive duties.

 

  • If the conductor lacks territorial qualification on other than main track, the conductor, where practical, shall be assisted by a certified conductor meeting the territorial qualifications. Where this is not practical, the conductor shall be provided an appropriate job aid, which includes maps, charts or other visual aids of the territory. This applies to all tracks on each territory.

 

  • Territorial qualification is not required for short movements of one mile or less where track speed is 20-mph or less and movement is required to be at restricted speed, and the track grade is less than 1 percent.

 
 

  • Prior to revoking conductor certification, a railroad must:  
  •   provide notice of the reason for suspension, and an opportunity for a hearing before a person other than the investigating officer. Written confirmation of the notification shall be in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement. Additionally, the hearing shall be in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement, but shall be convened within 10 days after the certificate is suspended, unless the conductor asks for a delay.

 

  • Provide, no later than convening the hearing and notwithstanding any collective bargaining agreement, a copy of the written information and a list of the witnesses the railroad intends to present at the hearing. The railroad shall grant a recess if the information is provided just before the hearing. If the information is provided through written statements of an employee, the railroad shall make that employee available for examination during the hearing.

 

  • Not revoke certification or recertification if there is sufficient evidence that an intervening cause prevented or materially impaired the conductor's ability to comply with requirements.

 

The final rule is 278 pages but the following links provide a good summary and Questions and Answers.

 If you have any questions do not hesitate to contact this office for clarification.  

  

Click here to read final rule

 

Click here for Highlights of the new regulations

 

Click here to read DLC Steve Young's Question and Answers

 

Click here for a Summary of the Regulations 

 

Click here to view Amtrak Brochure on Part 242

 

 

 
 
 
>>>
Christmas Party - 12/1/2011

This years Christmas party by the Callis Law firm, DLC John Papa is going to be held on Tuesday December the 13th.

Party will be held at the Amvets

1711 Kennedy Drive, Madison, IL 62060-1264

(618) 876-9621.

Doors open at 6:00pm with dinner being served around 6:30pm.

 

Click here for directions.

>>>
House Republicans vow to head-off rail strike - 12/1/2011

House Republicans vow to head-off rail strike

WASHINGTON – Senior House Republicans Nov. 29 said they would act to head off a railroad work stoppage if rail unions that so far have not settled with the carriers do not have a voluntary settlement in place by the end of a final 30-day cooling off period that expires Dec. 6.

The UTU has a ratified national rail agreement in place, while the Transportation Communications Union, the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen and the various shopcrafts have reached tentative agreements. The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes and the American Train Dispatchers Association have not reached a tentative agreement following recommendations for settlement by a Presidential Emergency Board.

(The BLET has ratified wage agreements in place with BNSF, CSX and Norfolk Southern — and is in separate wage negotiations with Union Pacific — but is in national handling for health care. The BMWE and the ATDA are in national handling for wage and health care agreements. Carriers in national handling include BNSF, CSX, Kansas City Southern, Norfolk Southern, Soo Line, Union Pacific and many smaller railroads. The carriers are represented by the National Carriers Conference Committee.)

If a national agreement between the BLET, the BMWE, the ATDA and the carriers is not reached by Dec. 6, the Railway Labor Act has run its course and the parties not yet in accord will be free to engage in self-help – a strike by labor or lockout by railroads.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said if tentative agreements involving the BLET, the BMWE and the ATDA are not reached by Dec. 6, they would act to prevent a work stoppage.

Typically, Congress intervenes with a back-to-work order almost immediately following a work stoppage, but there is nothing to prevent Congress from acting in advance to head off a strike by, for example, legislating the PEB recommendations or even its own settlement terms.

The three senior House Republicans told The Hill newspaper Nov. 29, “We are following with concern the situation involving our nation’s railways, and we are troubled by the possibility of a national railway strike that would jeopardize American jobs and cost our nation’s economy an estimated $2 billion per day.

“While our hope is that the parties involved will find common ground and resolve the situation without congressional involvement, the House is prepared to take legislative action in the days ahead to avert a job-destroying shutdown of our nation’s railroads, in the event such legislation proves necessary,” Boehner, Cantor and McCarthy said.

“A shutdown of our nation’s railways, which would harm our economy and endanger many American jobs, is unacceptable,” they said. “We are confident President Obama and the leaders of the Senate agree.”

The National Carriers Conference Committee earlier agreed to extend the cooling off period until at least February if all three of the remaining unions that have not yet settled agreed to the extension. The BLET declined Nov. 29 to agree to an extension of the cooling off period.

The nation’s largest shipper organization, the National Industrial Transportation League, as well as the Retail Federation of America and numerous other shippers have made pleas to Congress to head off a railroad work stoppage.

“For retailers, a strike during the busy holiday shopping season could be devastating,” the National Retail Federation said in a letter to Congress. “It is imperative that Congress recognize the severe economic harm threatened by the failure to reach agreement with the remaining rail unions and move quickly to prevent a rail strike that would prove devastating to both businesses and consumers.”

>>>
Conductor certification: Clear track for Jan. 1 - 12/1/2011

Conductor certification: Clear track for Jan. 1

WASHINGTON – It’s now official. Conductor certification, mandated by the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008, has a clear track for Jan. 1 implementation.

In a final rule, published by the Federal Railroad Administration Nov. 9, railroads must implement, by Jan. 1, a formal training program for certifying conductors and a formal process for training prospective conductors, thus ensuring job competency.

The FRA’s final rule on conductor certification follows many of the provisions of locomotive engineer certification, with a number of improvements the UTU, joined by the BLET, was able to obtain.

Following are highlights of the final rule, which runs almost 300 pages in the Nov. 9 Federal Register.

* While the railroad and its employees must comply with the final rule, there is no limitation on any rights the employee may have under a collective bargaining agreement

* Conductors currently employed will be grandfathered for from one to three years, with one-third of those conductors required to be tested for certification in 2012, 2013 and 2014. Beginning in 2015, one-third of the total conductor workforce will be recertified each year.

* Each railroad, in submitting its proposed certification program to the FRA for approval, must simultaneously submit it to the presidents of the UTU and BLET, which will have 45 days to comment. The intent is to encourage coordination by carriers with local union officers in formulating the certification program, and to gain a supporting statement from the general committee of jurisdiction.

* A conductor losing certification may work as an assistant conductor, brakeman, yard helper, switchman or utility employee, but cannot work as a locomotive engineer. If that individual holds both conductor and engineer certification, and the engineer certification is revoked, they may not work as a conductor.

* If the conductor certificate is revoked because of failing to control a train, violation of train speed, violation of brake test requirement, occupying main track without proper authority, tampering with safety devices, or an alcohol or drug violation, the decertified conductor may not work as a locomotive engineer. However, if the decertification is for violation of a rule covering shoving or pushing movements, or equipment left out to foul track, switches and derails, the decertified conductor may work as a locomotive engineer.
 
* The conductor must be trained by a qualified person on the territory over which that conductor will operate. If the certified conductor lacks territorial qualification, and has never been qualified on main track physical characteristics, that conductor shall be assisted by a person who is a certified conductor qualified on the territory, and NOT a member of the crew.

* If the conductor has been previously qualified over the main track territory, and the time limits have expired on their qualification, the conductor may be assisted by any knowledgeable person, including a member of the crew, other than the locomotive engineer on the crew, so as not to conflict with other safety sensitive duties.

* If the conductor lacks territorial qualification on other than main track, the conductor, where practical, shall be assisted by a certified conductor meeting the territorial qualifications. Where this is not practical, the conductor shall be provided an appropriate job aid, which includes maps, charts or other visual aids of the territory. This applies to all tracks on each territory.

* Territorial qualification is not required for short movements of one mile or less where track speed is 20-mph or less and movement is required to be at restricted speed, and the track grade is less than 1 percent.
 
Prior to revoking conductor certification, a railroad must:

* Provide notice of the reason for suspension, and an opportunity for a hearing before a person other than the investigating officer. Written confirmation of the notification shall be in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement. Additionally, the hearing shall be in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement, but shall be convened within 10 days after the certificate is suspended, unless the conductor asks for a delay.

* Provide, no later than convening the hearing and notwithstanding any collective bargaining agreement, a copy of the written information and a list of the witnesses the railroad intends to present at the hearing. The railroad shall grant a recess if the information is provided just before the hearing. If the information is provided through written statements of an employee, the railroad shall make that employee available for examination during the hearing.

* Not revoke certification or recertification if there is sufficient evidence that an intervening cause prevented or materially impaired the conductor’s ability to comply with requirements.

Additionally, with regard to conductor certification:

* The appeal procedures largely mirror engineer certification regulations.

* The training requirements for new conductors are significantly improved from current requirements. In addition to improved initial training, this rule requires recurrent training for all conductors every three years during the recertification process. The recurrent training must be identified in the certification plan filed with FRA, including changes in operating rules, operating practices, new federal regulations and new equipment in service.

“The implementation of conductor certification enhances the skills and safety performance of freight and passenger conductors, provides a federal license ensuring proper training of conductors, and establishes a new basis for resisting management pressure to violate operating rules and federal regulations,” said UTU International President Mike Futhey.

The final rule is a result of input from all affected parties, including labor, through the FRA’s Rail Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC).

The UTU was represented on this RSAC Conductor Certification Working Group by Local 645 Chairperson Vinnie Tessitore, Local 1470 Chairperson David Brooks, General Chairperson (GO 049) John Lesniewski, Local 528 Legislative Representative Ron Parsons, Alternate National Legislative Director John Risch, National Legislative Director James Stem, and UTU Rail Safety Coordinator for Designated Legal Counsel Larry Mann.

Click here to read the 278-page final rule on conductor certification.

Click here for more information on conductor certification.

>>>
Early rail retiree insurance cap raised - 11/29/2011

Early rail retiree insurance cap raised

UTU members and their dependents insured under the Railroad Employees National Early Retirement Major Medical Benefit (ERMA) Plan (GA-46000) will have their lifetime maximum amount of coverage increased, effective Jan. 1.

ERMA is a comprehensive benefits plan for employees who retire at or after age 60 with 30 years of service. The plan covers qualified employees, spouses and dependents until the employee reaches age 65. If the employee qualifies for Medicare before reaching 65, ERMA no longer covers the employee, but dependents continue coverage until the employee reaches age 65. ERMA is not applicable when any covered individual becomes Medicare eligible.

The lifetime maximum, effective Jan. 1, 2012, will be $131,500, an increase of $5,300.

The formula for increasing the lifetime maximum under ERMA was agreed upon by labor and management in 2001. The new lifetime maximum was derived by utilizing the October 2011 Consumer Price Index data for hospital and related services and physician services.

For individuals who have reached the lifetime maximum, the incremental maximum available is applied to eligible expenses submitted for dates of service on or after Jan. 1, the effective date of the new maximum.

>>>
Rail disability plan revisions effective Jan. 1 - 11/23/2011

Rail disability plan revisions effective Jan. 1

Revisions to the Anthem Voluntary Short Term Disability (VSTD) plan that better reflect the actual claims experience of our rail members and adjust to the prevailing market rate for this type of coverage will become effective Jan. 1, 2012.

Revisions to the Lincoln National Life Short Term Disability plan for bus members are being evaluated and should be available within the next 60 days.

The UTU Board of Trustees has carefully studied the various options available to our group and concluded that these revisions are warranted and necessary for the long-term health and viability of the plan.

First and foremost, our focus is to maintain a basic “safety net” of coverage for our members while balancing plan costs with plan benefits.

The revisions below are effective Jan. 1, 2012. If you currently do not participate in the Anthem VSTD plan because you had previously waived coverage, you are not affected by these revisions.

•The monthly premium has changed to $34.50 per month from $31 per month.

•The plan no longer provides benefits for alcoholism or drug addiction treatment at a rehabilitation center or other institution approved for such treatment.

•The benefit period has been reduced to 26 weeks for all disabilities.

Except for these revisions, there are no other changes to the plan or its operation.

There are no new pre-existing condition exclusions to satisfy under the revised plan.

If you have already satisfied the 12-month pre-existing condition exclusion period, or are in the process of satisfying it, then your status will carry forward to the revised plan. Your enrollment date under the original plan will apply to the revised plan.

If you become a member of the plan, for the first time, on or after Jan. 1, 2012, you will be subject to a 12-month pre-existing condition exclusion period (the same provision as existed under the original plan).

If you incur a disability that commences on or before Dec. 31, 2011, your disability benefits (for the entire period of that disability) will be calculated based on the original plan benefits in effect prior to the Jan. 1, 2012, revisions. All disabilities that commence on or after Jan. 1, 2012, will be subject to the revised plan guidelines.

Your benefits remain 100% tax-free.

If you own a UTUIA disability plan, you may continue to collect those benefits with no offset to your Anthem disability benefits 

The premium change will be made effective with your December 2011 pay. This will happen automatically through your local treasurer to ensure your coverage is not interrupted. There is nothing for rail members to do to continue this valuable coverage.

If you decide to leave the plan, you must notify us with a waiver form (available on the UTU website), completed and mailed to the International. Once we receive your waiver form, we will contact your local treasurer to discontinue deductions and make any necessary refunds to you. 

Once you submit a waiver form, you will no longer be eligible to participate in the plan. If you wish to re-enroll at a later date, you will be subject to full underwriting at your expense, with no guarantee of acceptance. If you are accepted, you will be required to satisfy a new 12-month pre-existing condition exclusion period.

Waiver forms should be mailed to: Attn: Dora Wolf, United Transportation Union, 24950 Country Club Blvd., Suite 340, North Olmsted, OH 44070-5333.

In 2009, the UTU introduced the Anthem (VSTD) plan and made preparations for the initial enrollment. The plan has received overwhelming support from our rail members, with more than 40,000 enrolled. Since its inception, UTU members have become eligible for over $25,000,000 in disability benefits. While we never want to see our members sick or injured, we are excited that the Anthem plan was available when they needed it.

>>>
FRA safety advisory on shove movements - 11/17/2011

FRA logoWASHINGTON – The Federal Railroad Administration, in response to inquiries about when it is permissible for an employee directing the movement to operate a motor vehicle in the context of a pushing or shoving movement, has issued the following advisory:

The central concern in each situation is whether the practice violates the prohibition in the Railroad Operating Practices regulations at 49 CFR 218.99(b), which states, in part:

No unrelated tasks. During the shoving or pushing movement, the employee directing the movement shall not engage in any task unrelated to the oversight of the shoving or pushing movement.

Factual circumstances may dictate whether an operation is safe and in compliance with the regulations.

Question 1: Do the Railroad Operating Practices regulations allow an employee to make an initial determination that the track is clear from a motor vehicle in which the employee is operating prior to the initiation of the shoving or pushing movement?

Answer:  While there may be some risk involved when an employee is both determining that the track is clear and operating the motor vehicle, the regulation does not strictly prohibit the same person from doing these tasks simultaneously when the movement has not been initiated and oversight of the movement is not required. However, if the terrain is uneven or the view is obstructed, the person may occasionally have to operate the vehicle at a slower speed or even stop the vehicle in order to accurately determine that the track is clear. 

Question 2: Do the Railroad Operating Practices regulations allow an employee to determine that the track is clear from a motor vehicle in which the employee is operating while simultaneously directing a shoving or pushing movement that is in motion? 

Answer:  Although there is no strict prohibition, the FRA is concerned that an employee who operates a motor vehicle while the shoving or pushing movement is in motion may not be adequately overseeing the train movement.

One of the stated purposes of the prohibition against engaging in any task unrelated to the oversight of the shoving or pushing movement was that it “increases the probability that the controlling employee will be in a position to reduce the severity of any accident that might occur.” (73 Fed. Reg. 8442, 8476) The cited language in the preamble to the rule immediately follows a recap of the fatal accident in Manlius, N.Y., which led to the issuance of FRA Safety Advisory 2007-01.

That fatal accident involved a carman whose vehicle was dragged a considerable distance before the employee directing the movement was contacted to stop the movement. The preamble language clarified that the “no unrelated task” provision was added as a compromise in exchange for the FRA giving up the proposed requirement that the leading end of the movement be continuously kept in sight by the employee directing the movement. 

The FRA recognized that “a ‘continuous observation’ requirement would force more employees either to walk or ride the point – creating an even greater vulnerability that someone could get hurt.” (73 Fed. Reg. 8476) The same type of argument could be made regarding an employee directing the movement who is instructed or elects to drive a vehicle while the shoving or pushing movement is in motion. 

With these concerns in mind, the FRA determined that an employee must not simultaneously direct a shoving or pushing movement while operating a motor vehicle of any type, except as follows:

* An employee may operate a motor vehicle to a point where he or she can visually determine that the track is clear, pursuant to 49 CFR 18.99(b)(3)(i).  After stopping the motor vehicle and determining that the track is clear for a specified distance, the employee directing a shoving or pushing movement may give an initial instruction to the engineer to start a shoving or pushing movement for the specified distance.

* After giving the initial instruction, the employee may operate the motor vehicle while the shoving or pushing movement is in motion. 

* After visually determining that the track is clear for an additional specified distance, the employee directing a shoving or pushing movement must stop the motor vehicle in order to provide any additional instructions to the engineer. This process may be repeated until the shoving or pushing movement is completed. 

* The FRA recognizes “that employees can safely make shoving or pushing movements without continuously observing the leading car (i.e., the leading end of the movement) for the entire distance of the movement.” (73 Fed. Reg. 8477) However, to the extent possible, the FRA would expect an employee to observe a shoving or pushing movement in progress and be able to take appropriate action to minimize the severity of any unexpected derailment or accident that might occur.

* Under all circumstances, the engineer must stop the movement in one-half the specified distance, unless additional instructions are received.  (49 CFR 220.49)

Question 3: Do the Railroad Operating Practices regulations allow an employee directing the shoving or pushing movement that is in motion to determine that the track is clear while riding in a motor vehicle as a passenger? 

Answer:  There is no strict prohibition on an employee determining that the track is clear while riding in a motor vehicle as a passenger. Of course, if the terrain is uneven or the view is obstructed, it may not be factually possible to make the determination that the track is clear.  As always, the FRA will consider enforcement action when the circumstances show that the person could not make an accurate determination.

>>>
Newsletter from UHC - 11/17/2011
Trouble viewing this email? Click here.
News for U
To help you manage your health care coverage and benefits
November 2011
 
 
 
Medicare  
Medicare's Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) ends December 7th.
Be sure to review your loved ones Medicare coverage over the upcoming holiday.
 

If you're getting together with friends and family this Thanksgiving holiday, take the time to review their health care needs to be sure they have the coverage they need for the upcoming year. Medicare eligibles can now enroll in or change their Medicare plan if they're not satisfied. Make sure they enroll early, because AEP ends December 7th, for coverage starting January 1, 2012.

Click here to learn how you can help

To watch a video about Medicare plan choices click here.

To learn about the UnitedHealthcare plans available click here.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Diabetes  
Managing Diabetes: The Oral-Vision Connection
 

Many are aware of serious diabetes-related complications such as heart disease, nerve damage, and limb amputation. However, people may not be aware of how diabetes can affect oral and visual health.

November is National Diabetes Month, and primary care physicians, dentists and eye-care specialists are urging people to schedule regular checkups. For people with diabetes, these visits can help regulate the disease's impact on dental, visual and overall health. For people who are not aware that they might have diabetes, certain signs and symptoms can help diagnose the disease.

Read more on managing diabetes

For more diabetes management-related tips, programs and more, visit www.unitedhealthgroup.com/diabetes.

 

 
 
 
Antibiotics  
Antibiotics: They Aren't for Every Illness
 

With cold and flu season right around the corner we would like to remind you of a few important facts about antibiotics. Antibiotics are not prescribed for every illness but only those that are considered to be bacterial infections. If you have a viral infection, such as the cold or flu, antibiotics are useless.

Antibiotics article

For more information about antibiotics and antibiotic resistance, go to http://www.cdc.gov/getsmart/index.html.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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>>>
Attorney General Koster warns consumers about fake StubHub email scam - 11/3/2011

Attorney General's News Release
November 1, 2011


Attorney General Koster warns consumers about fake StubHub email scam
Jefferson City, Mo. – Attorney General Chris Koster today cautioned Missourians to be on the alert for a scam in which consumers receive an email from “StubHub Orders” billing them for thousands of dollars for tickets they did not purchase. He said if you receive such an email, do not click on the link they provide to view the order.
Koster said the email thanks the consumer for his or her order, provides the order number and order date, the event for which the tickets were allegedly bought, shipping information, and the total charges. The email emphasizes that the consumer’s credit card has not yet been charged but will be within 48 hours. They ask that consumers click on a link to view their order confirmation.
Koster said StubHub is a legitimate internet ticket-selling business, and their actual StubHub website is
http://www.stubhub.com/. The link provided in the email goes to a different site altogether where the scammers can access your personal information, charge your account, or create a virus and hack into your computer.
Koster said StubHub had placed a warning on their official website warning consumers about the scam and urging that they not click on the link in the scam emails.
“Please remember never to give out personal information over the internet, including bank account or credit card numbers, unless you have initiated the contact and you are fully aware of whom you are giving the information to,” Koster said. “If you have received such an email from “StubHub Orders,” please file a complaint with my Consumer Hotline at 1-800-392-8222.”

>>>
FRA post accident form - 10/27/2011

Jack:
Rick:
Keith:
 
                Attached you will find a form that was recently sent to a few employees in the STL terminal.  The form was mailed from the Division office under the guidance of the FRA.  The form is sent to all employees on a crew that were involved in a derailment that met or exceeded the FRA monetary threshold for reportability.  The form is sent to all members of the crew (no matter if at fault or not in the derailment) and as of this writing is purely on a voluntary basis  that it be filled out and submitted.  The reason that this form hasn’t been sent in the past is because the FRA changed the criteria in June of this year under which this form was to be used, it became MANDATORY to send out under the direction of the FRA for human factor derailments that met or exceeded the FRA monetary threshold.
 
Any questions please don’t hesitate to call.
 
Kris Bozada

>>>
Letter from Dave Foutz - 10/24/2011

This is from last week after the LC's went on a hy-rail trip with the officials to view some of the new trackage.

 

Gentlemen,
 
Thanks for going on the hy-rail trip yesterday and participating in the discussion afterwards. As discussed, we all agreed the coal business that is already here and is coming is good for Norfolk Southern and your membership. We have an ID agreement in place to run some of this coal across the BNSF track rights between Litchfield and Centralia. Currently, the coal destined to Convent, La. operating on CN out of Centralia from both Shay and Hillsboro will flow via St. Louis which could amount to 28 trains month out of Hillsboro and 10 month out of Shay. Hillsboro to Mt. Vernon amounts to 28 trains month and out of Shay, 10 trains month. There is about 6 trains month out of Shay going to Duke at Mt. Carmel.
 
I ask Labor Relations about the DSLE rate is it is $275/day. There will be no pay for time lost.
 
As discussed, starting next week, Conley Wright will choose a DSLE to start training across the entire route from Shay to Mt. Vernon (including EVWR) via BNSF trackage rights. In about two weeks, one ID job will be advertised at St. Louis. We will continue to train DSLE from Decatur, St. Louis and Princeton until we have at least one DSLE from each location. Please let Conley know who would be interested in being a DSLE from your location. We want an Engineer who will be dedicated to this project and would be good teacher.
 
Hillsboro will open for test shipments in late November. Hillsboro is due to ramp up to full production in spring 2012. Test shipments are already being run between Shay to Mt. Vernon which right now will total 5 round trip trains. The Mt. Vernon, Indiana barge loading operation is not ready but will be ready soon. The east leg of the wye at Sorento will be built in first quarter of 2012.
 
Qualifying all crews will take some time and that is why it is important to get started now. Many of you had good ideas concerning modifying the agreement and this very well could be done as we move forward. As discussed, the only coal trains which will operate in this ID service will be the Shay to Mt. Vernon and Shay to Duke. Hillsboro to Mt. Vernon will be included when the east leg of the wye at Sorento is built. All coal moving via St. Louis will operate as we do today.
 
Please feel free to call me or e-mail me with your thoughts and ideas as we go forward.
 
David Foutz

>>>
OA and STL to WENTZ info from UTU GC. Boswell - 10/24/2011

This is some information that came from UTU General Chairman J. Boswell. As far as OA claims are concerned he said that ANY TIME you move off your assignment you are entitled to OA regardless of same shift or not.   He told me to keep putting the timeslips in but this is a division wide problem with the company and he is working on it.

Also he said that a man can move from Stl yard to Berkeley/Wentzville if he has satisfied the road agreement of being on the job 30 days.  I then asked him how to get back from B/W and he said that if you have been on a job for 30 days then you can 1st and 15th back to Stl yard.  He has sent me the memorandum of agreement dated 11-22-2002 by Strunk and says that this gives us the right.

>>>
GM workers return to Wentzville today - 10/17/2011

GM workers return to Wentzville today

Source: 
St. Louis Business Journal

A group of 24 formerly laid-off workers will return to General Motors' Wentzville assembly plant today in anticipation of the announcement of a $380 million GM expansion that would bring as many as 1,800 jobs to the plant, KSDK reports. Another 16 laid-off workers are scheduled to return October 24th.

>>>
BLET strike info from UTU General Chairman Boswell - 10/4/2011
Brothers,

I have fielded alot of questions concerning the BLE strike authorization vote. It was reported yesterday that the authorization came in at 97%.

Locomotive engineers would walk off the job at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time on October 7, 2011, unless President Obama intervenes and appoints a Presidential Emergency Board (PEB). A PEB would halt any strike or lockout by the parties, and would investigate and issue a report and recommendations concerning the dispute.

As background, the National Mediation Board released the BLE and 10 other Rail Labor unions from mediation with the rail carriers on September 6, creating a 30-day cooling off period, which expires at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time on October 7, 2011. At that point self-help is available to the parties, which means the BLE and/or any of the other unions could go on strike.

I fully expect President Obama to appoint a PEB prior to the BLE being able to strike, but in the off-chance that does not happen we need to be prepared. Be sure to communicate with your membership that we DO NOT cross picket lines! We will stand with the BLE should they choose to strike.

Even though the strike, if it should happen, would only last a few hours do not accept a call to work. The railroad should not attempt to force you to go to work, but if they do, simply state that with the BLE on strike you fear for your safety and will not work during the strike. If you are on a train or deadhead, complete your trip and then tie up and go home. If you are at the away from home terminal, the railroad should arrange transportation to your home terminal.

As always, feel free to call with any questions. Most importantly, share this communication with your co-workers so that no issues arise.

In brotherhood,

Jason Boswell
General Chairman
UTU GO-687
>>>
FRA Railroad Labor Town Hall Discussion - 9/29/2011

FRA Railroad Labor Town Hall Discussion
[09/28/2011]

Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Administrator Joseph C. Szabo, a fifth-generation railroader, invites rank-and file rail workers the opportunity to join him for a town-all meeting to engage in a frank and open safety discussion. All craft employees are invited to participate.

Administrator Szabo will share what FRA is doing to help improve rail safety across the nation, including advancing FRA’s Risk Reduction Program, a non-punitive approach to addressing safety in advance of an accident or injury.

In addition, it is important to the Administrator to hear the concerns from the workforce regarding rail safety. The goal of the town hall discussions is to provide a forum for meaningful dialogue regarding safety-related concerns, and to capture thoughts of rail workers regarding on-duty, rail fatalities and injuries. This is a unique opportunity to personally meet with the Administrator and craft employees are encouraged to attend.

The meeting will be held Tuesday, October 11, from 9 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at the Chicago Laborers District Council hall, 999 McClintock Drive, Burr Ridge.

>>>
Door reopened slightly on High-Speed rail funding - 9/22/2011

Door reopened slightly on high-speed rail funding

Amtrak LogoWASHINGTON – Just when federal funding for high-speed rail appeared dead as a rusted rail spike, Senate Democratic Leader Dick Durbin of Illinois exercised his clout and reopened the door – if only slightly.

On Sept. 20, the Senate Transportation Appropriations Committee voted to zero-out all federal funds for high-speed rail. Coming on the heels of a similar House Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee vote, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) – one of the most ardent congressional supporters of high-speed rail – declared that  elimination of high-speed rail funding is “a casualty of the cuts mandated in the debt-limit deal.”

But when the entire Senate Appropriations Committee met Sept. 21, Durbin was successful in having the entire committee overrule the transportation subcommittee and, instead, approve $100 million for high-speed funding for fiscal year 2012.

True, the $100 million, while seeming a large sum, is relatively small given the hundreds of billions of dollars required to build a series of high-speed rail lines in America. Consider that President Obama, earlier in the year, had urged $8 billion for high-speed rail in FY 2012, on top of $10.1 billion previously approved by Congress – with $7 billion of that $10.1 billion already allocated to numerous high-speed rail proposals nationwide.

With the door for high-speed rail funding reopened, the battle now turns to the House and Senate floors, where more money might be appropriated when the final votes are cast for FY 2012 high-speed rail funding.

Amtrak funding also faces a tough battle in the House and Senate.

In the Senate, appropriators are recommending $544 million in Amtrak operating subsidies for FY 2012 ($18 million less than FY 2011 funding) plus $937 million toward capital spending and debt service (an increase of $15 million from the FY 2011 appropriation).

But In the House, appropriators are recommending considerably less for Amtrak in FY 2012 — $227 million for operating subsidies and $899 for capital and debt service.

Also awaiting further House action is a House Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee recommendation to eliminate all federal funding for state-supported Amtrak service in FY 2012. No action on that anti-Amtrak initiative has surfaced in the Senate.

It is unlikely that the House and Senate will reach agreement on FY 2012 Amtrak funding prior to the start of the new fiscal year Oct. 1. More likely is a continuing resolution that will extend FY 2011 funding levels into FY 2012 while lawmakers continue debating FY 2012 funding levels.

>>>
Contract effective Sept. 16 - 9/13/2011

National rail contract pay jump effective Sept. 16

The new national rail contract and its increased rates of pay become effective Sept. 16.

Sept. 16 is also the trigger date from which the carriers are pledged to make retroactive wage payments within 60 days.

Health care changes will be implemented after Jan. 1.

New rate tables will be posted at www.utu.org soon, and members will be advised when the posting occurs.

>>>
GM applies for tax incentives in Wentzville - 9/11/2011

GM applies for tax incentives in Wentzville, may add new jobs

KMOV.com

Posted on September 10, 2011 at 5:06 PM

Updated today at 11:35 PM

 

(KMOV.com) --  Thousands of good paying jobs may soon be coming to Wentzville, Missouri if General Motors decides to expand its auto plant.

The auto maker took one step toward that reality this week when it filed an application for tax incentives with the city of Wentzville.

The deal is all dependent on what General Motors ultimately decides to do.  In May, the company announced plans to spend two billion dollars across seven states, but did not outline how much if any of that money will be spend in Wentzville.

Wentzville Mayor Paul Lambi said, "Normally they carry about 1,300 jobs.  When the plant opened here they had as many as 8,000 employees.  Today you're looking into an average of 13,000 so we're hoping with some more investments it would be possible they would add more jobs."


Mayor Lambi admits that the deal is still an "if/then" situation.  He also added that if General Motors decides to expand the plant in Wentzville, then the city will approve those tax breaks. 

The mayor could not specify a timeline for the plan, but said it will be at least a year before they know if General Motors has made a decision.  If they do, it may take over a year to get everything in line.

>>>
Fulton traffic - 9/2/2011

As we have heard for the last year, the new date for the Fulton traffic to start is sometime in the next couple years. But we do have a copy of the new turnout(crossover) in Belleville IL for us to get on the CN track. Please enjoy this new work that they have worked so effortlessly to get for you. :)

>>>
New Roxana Yard Office - 9/2/2011

On a lighter note. We do have solid proof of funding approval for the new yard office at Roxana. It will be moved to the north side of the new yard in the open area adjacent to trk 8. This is to be completed sometime in November. Hopefully this November.

>>>
Information about NS discipline/harassment - 8/30/2011

  NS uses “delaying trains” or “job briefing” charges when they do not have any real violations to charge you with. NS will dismiss you after a fair and impartial hearing (my ass!!) in hopes that the arbitrator will not bring you back because of bad work record or other. That’s why is imperative that we do not be so willing to accept START offers, including START minors. We need to keep our records as clean as possible and keep a good record of any discipline issue that we may have been a part of. I have kept every START handling form that I have signed for everybody that I have ever represented in case of any dispute. I always demanded that no records will be in any of our members unless the START form has been signed by the charged member and me (unless member chose to be represented by somebody else). The idea of an START handling going away after one or two years is a myth. They stay on your record for the arbitrator to see and it weighs heavily in his decision.
Please check your discipline record often and OBEY BY THE RULES!!!

Carlos A. Lizarraga III

"The individual activity of one man with backbone will do more
           than a thousand men with a mere wishbone"

>>>
NS sued aftrer trainer pinned between rail cars - 8/25/2011

Norfolk Southern sued after trainer pinned between rail cars.
8/23/2011 12:12 PM

 
The family of a deceased man is blaming a railroad company for causing the man's death, saying he died after being pinned in between two railroad cars.

Sara Wilson Watts filed a lawsuit July 27 in St. Clair County Circuit Court against Norfolk Southern Corporation.

In her complaint, Sara Watts alleges her husband, Stanley Watts, was riding on the side of a gondola car for Norfolk Southern Corporation and training a conductor in adverse weather conditions in Kankakee on Feb. 8 when the incident occurred.

"The Plaintiff's decedent was pinned between two railcars causing Plaintiff's decedent to sustain conscious pain and suffering, multiple injuries and death," the suit states.

Because of Stanley Watts's death, his family, including his wife and two sons, lost his services, care, counsel, guidance, instruction and training, according to the complaint.

In her suit, Sara Watts blames Norfolk Southern Corporation for causing her husband's death, saying it negligently failed to provide him with a safe place to work and failed to provide him with safe tools, among other negligent acts.

Watts seeks a judgment of more than $50,000, plus costs and interest.

John P. Kujawski of Kujawski and Associates in O'Fallon will be representing her.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 11-L-421.

Carlos A. Lizarraga III

"The individual activity of one man with backbone will do more
           than a thousand men with a mere wishbone"

>>>
Labor plays key role in bringing car manufacturing back to Missouri - 8/18/2011
Labor plays key role bringing car manufacturing back to Missouri
 
 

Labor, business, government teamwork makes the difference in decision; 25 states were competing
 
Hazelwood – Labor, industry and government cooperation that has become a hallmark of the St. Louis region produced a major economic jolt for the area with the announcement last week that a British company will be building diesel/gas-powered electric vans here.
 
While looking at 25 states, Emerald Automotive selected Missouri, and Hazelwood specifically, as the site for their initial $175 million investment for several key reasons:
• The availability of a skilled automotive-oriented workforce;
• The support from state and local governments;
• The enthusiastic cooperation of the local business community and;
• The cooperation and support from the labor community.
 
A specific site in Hazelwood has not yet been selected.
 
“Missouri opened its resources to us,” Emerald spokesperson Sharon Heaton, the company’s general counsel, told the Labor Tribune. After visiting many of the 25 states, “Missouri was clearly the right partner. They understood our needs. They provide the right working relationship for us. Everyone was very much about ‘How do we make this happen?’”
 
One of Missouri’s key strategic advantages, she said, is the availability of a skilled, car assembly workforce. Noting that their new vehicle will not be mass produced, but rather a niche vehicle, Heaton pointed out, “There is a different skill set needed for this vehicle,” skills that require more hands-on assembly rather than the use of machines, the kinds of assembly skills that are in abundance in Missouri’s auto workers.
 
That’s great news for the many thousands of unemployed auto workers here.
 
UAW SUPPORT
 “The UAW is excited that they are coming into the area, not only excited for our laid off workers here but for the entire State of Missouri for the positive economic impact it will have,” said Jim Wells, UAW Region 5 director. “We look forward to working with the company, the community and the state to make this a successful endeavor,” he told the Labor Tribune.
 
Hazelwood Mayor Matt Robinson said that the company’s executives wanted union involvement and commitment. “Andy Tempest, Emerald Automotive’s CEO, worked in Detroit and is very familiar with the unions, and committed to working with them here,” he said.
 
Tempest was CEO of a design manufacturing firm that specialized in building niche vehicles at a fixed cost. Previously he was managing partner at Lotus where he helped give birth to the company’s famed Elise sports car, known for its fiberglass body, aluminum chassis, and speeds of up to 150 miles per hour.
 
"We are here to deliver a product the customer wants and we are here to let the workforce share in that," Tempest said in an interview with KSDK-TV. He said that while he lives in England, he plans to spend a lot of time in St. Louis and play an active role in the community. His primary goal he says is growing Emerald domestically and globally.
 
VIEW UNIONS AS ‘PARTNERS’
“We view (the unions) as partners in what we’re trying to build. We expect to have a mutually beneficial relationship,” Heaton said, adding, “We are absolutely committed to working with the unions.”
 
“They have told us they want a well-qualified workforce, which we have here, and that they intend to pay a decent wage and provide benefits to their workers,” Wells said. He emphasized that the UAW would work closely with Emerald executives and local and state officials to obtain state and/or federal funding for any specialized training programs that might be needed.
 
Why is a British firm building a manufacturing plant in the U.S. when it’s initial market is the United Kingdom and Europe? First, because most of the components will be American-made, Heaton said, particularly “the battery packs and engines.” (Editor’s note: More good news for American workers.) Secondly, the potential of ultimately selling over a half million vehicles of this size in the U.S. market as compared to the overall potential market of 400,000 vehicles in Europe.
 
LABOR SUPPORT APPRECIATED
“We’re thrilled with the kind of cooperation we’ve had from organized labor, not only on this project, but generally on every economic development effort we’ve been making at the RCGA,” said Dick Fleming, president/CEO, Regional Chamber & Growth Association (RCGA).
 
He noted that labor’s involvement in this effort began when he asked Jeff Aboussie, executive secretary-treasurer of the St. Louis Building & Construction Trades Council and a member of the RCGA’s board of directors, for help in moving this project forward when it first came to light months ago.
 
“The next day we had a meeting with the United Auto Workers leadership and we were off and running,” Fleming told the Labor Tribune. “We have a distinctive advantage in economic development here because the labor unions and their leadership are so strongly committed to working with the business community to help existing businesses expand or recruiting new businesses.”
 
“In the end, it’s about putting a lot of talented unemployed or underemployed auto workers initially, and hundreds of others, back on their feet and into good paying jobs,” Fleming added.
 
“Labor has been a cooperative partner all along in these efforts,” Fleming said, noting the cooperation of many other unions, and particularly the leadership of the Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 562 and Sheet Metal Workers Local 36, whose chief executives, Pat Kellett and David Zimmermann respectively, are also members of the RCGA’s board.
 
BIG IMPLICATIONS FOR LABOR
“This has two very big, practical implications for Missouri labor,” said Aboussie:
 
First, this is yet another major example of how organized labor here works with industry and government to benefit the entire community to produce real jobs and as importantly,
 
Second, it’s a clear indication that manufacturing companies do want to locate in Missouri and that gives the ‘big lie’ to those Republicans who say that Missouri needs a phony ‘right-to-work for less’ law in order to compete with other states to attract more manufacturing business.”
 
“They had 25 other potential sites but they picked Missouri!” Aboussie said proudly.
 
THOUSANDS OF MAN HOURS, NEW JOBS
Initially, the company is expected to hire some 300 people by 2013 and 581 by 2014, ultimately leading to more than 1,000 new jobs being created as other supplier firms build near the plant.
 
“This will mean hundreds of thousands of manhours of work for our construction trades, to say nothing of the thousands more as other companies decide to build in the area so that they can supply this plan. And the beauty is that Emerald is on the cutting edge of green technology so it’s a company that can only see massive expansion in the future, creating many more construction and permanent jobs.”
 
“The cooperation of labor, and especially the United Auto Workers, was critical to the talks that have been underway for the past six months,” said Mayor Robinson, a working member of Sprinkler Fitters Local 268. “Jeff Aboussie and the UAW have been extremely cooperative from the very beginning, playing a critical role with regard to creating key incentives to help the company makes its decision.”
 
LABOR INCENTIVES
Those labor incentives include:
• The UAW’s willingness to work closely with the company to obtain local, state and federal funding for training costs to prepare its already-trained workers with any new skills that might be need;
• The willingness of the Building Trades Council to bring to the table union pension funds and other union related funding sources that invest in construction to consider investing in this project and provide critical construction capital. “Of course the projects will be built 100 percent union,” Aboussie said.
 
Two other key incentives include a $3 million economic development grant from the City of Hazelwood and a $2 million grant from the Missouri Technology Corporation. Hazelwood’s city council approved their funding last week. The British government also provided $5 million.
 
The deal is about 95 percent complete, Robinson said, with a few final details yet to be worked out.
 
The company hopes to be building 10,000 of the new electric hybrid vans, a lightweight delivery vehicle, by 2015, initially for the British Royal Mail and the rest of the European market, but eventually for the U.S. market as well. The van will use a battery, recharged by either a diesel or gas engine that will give it a range of 475 miles. Over a four-year period, a company using these vehicles can expect to save $42,000 in typical operational expenses per vehicle.

 

>>>
Gov. Quinn makes UTU’s first-aid kit campaign a law - 8/18/2011

Gov. Quinn makes UTU’s first-aid kit campaign a law
[08/15/2011]

SPRINGFIELD (Aug. 15)—Gov. Pat Quinn has signed UTU-sponsored legislation requiring all contract-carrier vehicles that carry railroad crews to be equipped with first-aid kits.

House Bill 1573 mandates that the kits must contain the same basic medical supplies that already are mandatory on locomotives, trains and railroad-owned motor vehicles.

The legislation is effective upon the governor’s signature, but UTU Illinois Legislative Director Robert W. Guy said it does allow time for the van operators to acquire and install the necessary equipment.

“They knew this was coming, but legally they were not actually obligated to start installing the kits in their vehicles until the governor’s signature was on the legislation,” Guy said. “We expect it will be a matter of several weeks before all affected vehicles are equipped.”

Guy said the Board decided to draft the necessary legislation after Brother Bill Mathes, Legislative Representative of Local #1402, raised the issue at the last re-organization meeting and noted that members riding in contract-carrier vans often were traveling at higher speeds on the highway than aboard the trains they worked yet did not have access to a first-aid kit in the event of a minor accident.

“As we all know, highway travel is statistically much more dangerous than rail travel, yet the vans in which we were riding to work had a lower level of simple medical protection than the much safer locomotives where we were spending our workdays,” Guy said.

“Bill made an eloquent case for putting first-aid kits in those vans," he said. "The Board heard him loud and clear, and now it’s the law. Our members—in fact, all members of the operating crew--will have access to a simple first-aid kit regardless of where they are during their tour of duty.”

Guy said the signing of H.B. 1573 marked the second year in a row the UTU was able to navigate a bill through the Illinois General Assembly from introduction to the governor’s signature.

“And it’s the second year in a row that Asst. State Director Bob Blomgren was able to contribute to that process,” Guy said. “Bob has really shown strong professional growth over the last couple of years, and his confidence and knowledge of the General Assembly and the political process continues to grow. Considering that we had to throw him into the mix very early on, he’s done a remarkable job.”

Guy said passage of the first-aid-kit measure is another successful example of the UTU’s bottom-up philosophy of member activism.

“Even an issue seemingly as simple as first-aid kits could not be resolved without the involvement and outreach from our members,” Guy said.

“Our most effective and successful initiatives tend to be the ones initiated by the brothers and sisters. They observe what goes on in the workplace and bring their concerns—particularly concerns about health and safety—to the attention of their local leadership for possible legislative action. The Board urges all members to be alert at all times to potential safety or health hazards and to share their concerns with their local leadership.

“As H.B. 1573 proves, we know how to turn member concerns into action.”

>>>
One Million Man Hours - 8/14/2011

Sent: Saturday, August 13, 2011 6:41 PM
Subject: FW: St. Louis Million Man-hours.............September 14, 2011


Staff:
 
Our official date for million man-hours injury free is September 14, 2011. If we make this date injury free St Louis Terminal  Transportation Dept. will be the first Transportation Group in Norfolk Southern corporate history to work one million man-hours injury free.  Began talking about this historic date with all crews contacts daily.
 
Melvin L. Crawley

>>>
Futhey re-elected - 8/12/2011

Futhey re-elected; vote a SMWIA 'repudiation'
Posted On August 8, 2011 (3:23 pm) In News, Recent Updates, Top Story
 
FUTHEY HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – Mike Futhey was elected to his second four-year term as president of the United Transportation Union Aug. 8 during the UTU’s 11th quadrennial convention here.
Futhey was re-elected by a vote of 453-34 against challenger Scott Cole, delegate from UTU Local 278.
 “This vote was a complete repudiation of the four-year effort of the Sheet Metal Workers International Association to take over the UTU,” said Steve Simpson, delegate from Local 489, following the vote.
Also re-elected Aug. 8 — by acclamation — were Assistant President Arty Martin, General Secretary & Treasurer Kim Thompson and National Legislative Director James Stem.
Election results for Aug. 9 include:
* Robert Kerley, Dave Wier, John Previsich and Delbert Strunk were all returned by acclamation as International vice presidents.
In other International vice president elections:
* Paul Tibbit defeated John Babler, 371-117.
* John Lesniewski defeated J.R. “Jim” Cumby, 420-68.
* Bonnie Morr defeated Calvin Studivant, 274-213.
Additionally, Alternate National Legislative Director John Risch was re-elected, defeating Jay Seegmiller, 378-105.
Also:
* Calvin Studivant was elected alternate vice president-east, Bus Department, by acclamation.
* Brian Donald was elected alternate vice president- west, Bus Department, with 337 votes, defeating Adhi Reddy (75 votes) and Robert Gonzalez (74 votes).
* Larry Barrilleaux,  R. W. “Red” Dare, John England, Troy Johnson, Doyle Turner and Daniel Young were elected alternate vice presidents, receiving a majority of votes (and more than 50 percent of ballots) among nine candidates for six alternate vice president positions. Defeated were Carl Farnie, Kevin King and Charles Piland.
Also:
* Dale Barnett was elected “Engine Service Member” on the Board of Appeals, defeating Daniel O’Connell, 369-116.
* Donald Seyer was elected, by acclamation, “Road Service (Train Service) Member” on the Board of Appeals.
* Dale Welch was elected, by acclamation, “Yard Service (Train Service) Member” on the Board of Appeals.
* Dirk Sampson was elected, by acclamation, “Commuter Authority Member” on the Board of Appeals.
* Alvy Hughes was elected “Bus Department Member” on the Board of Appeals, defeating Adhi Reddy, 379-106.
Also:
* Steve Dawson, Mike Anderson, Steven Mavity, George Millward and Robert Resendez were elected, by acclamation, to the Executive Board. Phil Craig defeated Harry Garvin, 346-140, in election for alternate to the Executive Board.
Terms of elected officers and alternates begin Jan. 1, 2012.
Per an arbitrator’s ruling in the pending litigation and arbitration of whether the merger agreement between the UTU and the Sheet Metal Workers International Association (SMWIA) is an enforceable agreement, a parallel...
Article taken from United Transportation Union -
http://utu.org
URL to article: http://utu.org/2011/08/08/futhey-re-elected-vote-seen-as-smwia-repudiation/

>>>
Delegates unanimous: ‘Nuts to SMWIA takeover’ - 8/12/2011

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – The almost 500 delegates to the United Transportation Union’s 11th Quadrennial Convention here voted unanimously Aug. 12 in favor of a resolution in opposition to a merger between the United Transportation Union and the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association (SMWIA).

The text of the resolution follows:

“As the nomination and elections that occurred earlier this week clearly demonstrated, and the numerous discussions between the delegates at this 11th Quadrennial UTU convention have confirmed, the overwhelming sense of this body is that a merger with the SMWIA and the creation of the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation (SMART) Workers Union never come to fruition.

“We have faith that the attempted SMWIA takeover of the UTU, which would not be in the best interests of either union, will never occur, and that such a combination would indeed be destructive of the UTU and harmful to the labor movement itself.

“We want to recommit the confidence we have placed in our newly elected officers and trust that we will remain an independent autonomous labor organization — the United Transportation Union.”

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OSHA putting teeth in rail whistleblower law - 8/12/2011

OSHA putting teeth in rail whistleblower law

For too many years, many railroads have tied managerial bonuses to low reportable injury rates among employees, creating a culture of fear through harassment and intimidation – a culture that discourages the reporting by workers of on-duty injuries and allows railroads to claim an industry safety award accompanied by glowing press releases as to its low employee-injury rate.

After collecting file drawers full of verified complaints from members of carrier harassment and intimidation following an on-duty injury, the UTU’s National Legislative Office was successful in shepherding through Congress the Federal Rail Safety Act of 2007.

It purpose is to protect rail workers from retaliation and threats of retaliation when they report injuries, report that a carrier violated safety laws or regulations, or if the employee refuses to work under certain unsafe conditions or refuses to authorize the use of any safety related equipment.

An employer also is prohibited from disciplining an employee for requesting medical or first-aid treatment, or for following a physician’s orders, a physician’s treatment plan, or medical advice.

Retaliation, including threats of retaliation, is defined as firing or laying off, blacklisting, demoting, denying overtime or promotion, disciplining, denying benefits, failing to rehire, intimidation, reassignment affecting promotion prospects, or reducing pay or hours.

What was missing was tough enforcement of the law – but no more.

For the fourth time in recent months, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has taken strong action against a railroad for violating the law – and fully protecting the whistleblowing employee who suffered harassment and intimidation by the offending carrier.

In the latest OSHA action, Norfolk Southern was ordered to pay a former employee more than $122,000 in compensatory and punitive damages, plus the employee’s attorney fees, for improper termination after the employee reported an on-duty injury.

According to OSHA, the injury occurred in a NS yard in Jamestown, N.C., while the worker was removing spikes. Fearing loss of employment, the worker did not report the injury until a re-injury occurred. The employee was subsequently terminated.

Under the whistleblower protection provision of the Federal Rail Safety Act, the employee filed a complaint with OSHA, resulting in the OSHA award to the employee.

OSHA also issued a startling statement validating what many UTU members have long suspected – that Norfolk Southern’s culture of employee harassment and intimidation permitted the railroad to “maintain the appearance of an exemplary safety record and continue its 22-consecutive-year record as recipient of the E.H.Harriman Gold Medal Rail Safety Award.”

In other recent OSHA actions:

* Metro North Commuter Railroad was ordered to promote a worker and pay him more than $130,000 in compensatory and punitive damages, plus legal fees, for improperly discriminating against him by classifying the injury as not work-related and denying him a promotion.

* A Wisconsin Central conductor was awarded more than $125,000 in compensatory and punitive damages, plus legal fees, following unlawful harassment and intimidation as the result of reporting an injury.

* Union Pacific was ordered to rehire a machinist it had fired following the reporting of a work-related injury.

* BNSF was ordered to rehire a conductor after being found guilty of improper retaliation after the conductor filed an injury report.

A rail employee may file a whistleblower complaint directly with OSHA, or may contact a UTU designated legal counsel, general chairperson or state legislative director for assistance.

A listing of UTU designated legal counsel is available at http://www.utu.org/, or may be obtained from local or general committee officers or state legislative directors.

To view a more detailed OSHA fact sheet, click on the following link:

http://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA-factsheet-whistleblower-railroad.pdf

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Wise message from former UTU President - 8/2/2011

At 97, former UTU president still leads fight 

Former UTU International President Al Chesser (1972-1979) is now 97 years old, and the fire in his belly in support of organized labor has never dimmed.

The following was written by Chesser in response to creation by President Mike Futhey of the Collective Bargaining Defense Fund, intended to create public awareness of — and opposition to — the attack on collective bargaining rights by political extremists in scores of states and in Congress. Before his election as UTU International president, Chesser was the UTU’s national legislative director.

By Al Chesser:

The objective of political extremists — those holding elective office and those seeking elective office — is to destroy labor unions, which are among the most patriotic and democracy-loving organizations in our nation.

When dictators take over a country, one of their first objectives is to destroy labor unions. If this no-compromise, labor-union hating group takes control of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate — as they have done in a number of state legislatures — America could cease to be a democracy.

This group of extremists not only is targeting collective bargaining rights; it is intent upon destroying Railroad Retirement, Social Security and Medicare, threatening the financial security of current and future retirees.

If these political extremists are able to destroy organized labor, they will destroy the many achievements of the labor movement, and the principles we have worked and sacrificed so hard for on behalf of working families.

Overtime pay, paid vacations, employer-provided healthcare, retirement benefits and workplace safety laws and regulations all exist because of labor unions — and all are coming under attack by political extremists.

I am grateful for this opportunity to contribute $500 to the UTU’s Collective Bargaining Defense Fund to help fight this war against organized labor and working families.

I say to every labor union officer and union member: Don’t get caught asleep at the switch. Don’t let these political extremists fast talk you. If they destroy organized labor, our financial security will be a shambles. Our earnings, benefits and workplace safety will no longer be collectively bargained. We will be at the mercy of employers.

To my railroad brothers and sisters, I tell you that this would set us back to the 1800s, when the lives of working men and women were nearly the equivalent of slave labor.

The threat from today’s political extremists is the most dangerous we have faced since before enactment of the Railway Labor Act and the National Labor Relations Act.

Light the fire in your belly and join our fight. We can, will and must beat back this attack from those who want to destroy the union movement in America.

Please contribute to the UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund, and participate in the UTU Political Action Committee.

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New Automotive plant to come to Hazelwood - 8/2/2011

(Hopefully we will be able to get some work back in at Berkeley Yard.)

 

The St. Louis area has lost thousands of auto manufacturing jobs in recent years, but may soon get some back.

Hazelwood officials announced Wednesday that the city council approved a measure to provide $3 million through economic development sales tax to help a British company build a plant to make hybrid electric vans.

The Missouri Technology Corp. will also provide $2 million to Emerald Automotive.

Mayor Matthew Robinson said the city and Emerald have been talking since February. The plant could create 1,000 jobs and could be operating by 2014.

Emerald CEO Andy Tempest said the company will make lightweight delivery vans for European commercial fleets. The vans will eventually be offered for sale in the U.S. and possibly Asia.

Robinson said the plant has the potential to be one of the largest in the St. Louis County town. The plant would directly employ up to 580 people by 2015, and result in jobs for another 400 suppliers.

"We will actually begin doing a modest amount of hiring in 2012," Emerald general counsel Sharon Heaton told KMOX Radio. "We will be hiring a larger number of people in 2013 and expect to be at about 300 people by the end of 2013."

Heaton said the company has been working on the van known as the T100 for about two years. It will use a battery recharged by either a diesel or gasoline engine and will have a range of about 475 miles.

The van would be targeted at companies such as delivery and utility firms that buy vehicles in bulk and do a lot of driving.

Heaton said Emerald looked at 25 possible U.S. locations. Hazelwood was picked because of the incentives and the quality of the workforce.

There are thousands of former autoworkers available in the region. Ford and Chrysler plants have been shut down in recent years -- Ford in Hazelwood, Chrysler with two plants in Fenton. Jobs have also been cut at the General Motors plant in Wentzville.

The site of the former Ford plant is among those being considered for the new facility.

England's postal service is the company's first client, and is committing to purchase thousands of the vans, Heaton said.

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July Newsletter from Director Menges - 7/22/2011

UTU-MO Logo    

UTU-Missouri State Legislative Board

JULY 2011

Join Our Mailing List

The UTU Missouri State Legislative Board invites you to join our mailing list to receive the latest news affecting your job, your family and your retirement!

  The Heat is on!

Every summer, when the weather gets hot and humid, people suffer, and can even die from, heat-related illnesses. The danger of overdoing activities in the summer is especially high for athletes. Proper care and prevention can keep heat-related illnesses such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heat stroke from affecting their performance.

Missouri Labor Link In this Edition... The Heat is On

Heat Cramps

When a body becomes dehydrated and is lacking electrolytes, painful muscle tightening and spasms may occur. These heat cramps can be alleviated with rest, rehydration (drinking fluids) and easing into stretches. Applying ice may also help the involved areas.

Heat Exhaustion

Prolonged overexertion of the body without sufficient replenishment of water and electrolytes causes heat exhaustion. The exhaustion consists of feelings of fatigue, weakness, light-headedness, nausea, vomiting and profuse sweating. 

To alleviate symptoms, move the athlete to a cool area and remove any excess clothing. Cool the person with a cold cloth or a cool bath. If the athlete does not improve rapidly, seek emergency medical attention. The athlete should not compete that day. Monitor the athlete closely when he/she does return to competition.

Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition. Seek emergency medical attention immediately. Heat stroke results from a complete shutdown of the body's heat regulation system and leads to increased body temperatures.

Symptoms include warm, red, dry skin, lack of sweating, disorientation and unconsciousness. Take the athlete out of the sun and immediately begin to cool the body by spraying with water, applying cold, wet towels and fanning.

Prevention

Reducing the risk of heat illnesses can be achieved through prevention.  High heat and humidity limit the body's ability to cool itself. Fluid replacement is the most important factor in the prevention of heat illnesses.  

 

Click here for prevention tips from the Mayo Clinic

Whistleblower Protection for Railroad Workers

 

Individuals working for railroad carriers are protected from retaliation for reporting potential

safety or security violations to their employers or to the government.

  

Your employer may be found to have violated

FRSA if your protected activity was a contributing

factor in its decision to take adverse action against

you. Such actions may include:

· Firing or laying off

· Blacklisting

· Demoting

· Denying overtime or promotion

· Disciplining

· Denying benefits

· Failing to hire or rehire

· Intimidation

· Making threats

· Reassignment affecting promotion prospects

· Reducing pay or hours

· Disciplining an employee for requesting medical

or first-aid treatment

· Disciplining an employee for following orders or

a treatment plan of a treating physician

· Forcing an employee to work against medical

advice 

Click here for OSHA Factsheet 

 

 Conductor wins $125,000 in whistleblower complaint 

 

 

HATE   TAXES?

 

Where do my tax $ go?

 

Click here

Contract Meetings

 

Kansas City, MO

July 25, 2011

 

Ft. Madison, IA

July 27, 2011

Click here for the list of meetings

 

Join UTU PAC 

 

UTU PAC provides the means to fight for a safer workplace and protects our future. 

Download UTU PAC application 

 

utupac

 

The Republican chairman of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, Rep. John Mica of Florida, added to his anti-labor reputation July 19 by inserting language in an aviation bill aimed at pressuring Senate Democrats to overturn a National Mediation Board decision allowing more democratic representation elections among airline and rail workers.

 

Not to be lost here is that were the UTU tentative national rail agreement rejected, and the outcome turned over to third parties, Mica would take the lead in deciding the outcome - and it is likely he would push for a congressionally imposed settlement quite unfavorable to workers.

 

Click here for more info

Record pay boost in UTU tentative rail pact

Click to view copy of proposed agreement

 

 

View powerpoint presentation  

 

Beware! 

 

 tick  

 Ticks are the leading carriers (vectors) of diseases to humans in the United States, second only to mosquitoes worldwide. It is not the tick bite but the toxins, secretions, or organisms in the tick's saliva transmitted through the bite that causes disease

 

Click here for information on Vector Borne Diseases 

 

Find us on Facebook                                                                             Follow us on Twitter

    

Kenny Menges

United Transportation Union

 

222 A Madison St

Jefferson City, MO 65101

573-634-3303

moutu@embarqmail.com

 

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August Meeting Date Change - 7/22/2011

The date for the August meeting of UTU Local 1405 has been changed. The meeting will be held on Wednesday August 17, 2011 at 6:30pm. We moved the meeting back a week so that we will be able to bring you the International Officer Election results, and any other available information from what takes place at the UTU International Convention that is taking place the week before. Sorry for any inconvenience this may cause. We look forward to seeing you there.

 

 

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Tri-CIty port to recieve 8.5 Million TIGER Grant - 7/21/2011

AMERICA'S CENTRAL PORT | Announcement

Washington - U.S. Congressman Jerry Costello (D-IL) announced today that the Tri-City Regional Port District has received an $8.5 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant.  The funds will be used to construct a new south harbor and connecting rail lines for a multi-modal inland waterway transportation barge port and associated rail and truck facility located at their facilities in Madison County, Illinois.  Costello also sponsored the legislation that enabled the transfer of the former U.S. Army Charles Melvin Price Support Center, where the new harbor is located, to the Port District.

Last year, Costello helped secure a $6 million Tiger Grant for the Port District, which is known as America’s Central Port.  In combination with state and local funding, the additional $8.5 million will complete funding for the project.  The Port estimates it will create over 2,400 construction jobs and over 800 long-term jobs in the region.  All permits for the project are in place.   

“This is an important project for our region, and is a national model for intermodal transportation projects,” said Costello, a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.  “It takes advantage of our region’s central location and proximity to the Mississippi River and major interstate highways to create an efficient transportation network.   America’s Central Port continues to be an economic driver for our area, and this project will make it an even more attractive place for businesses.”

On getting word that US Congressman Jerry Costello obtained additional TIGER grant funds for the Port’s new South Harbor project, Dennis Wilmsmeyer, Executive Director of America’s Central Port, wanted to thank Congressman Costello for all of his hard work to make this project a reality. Wilmsmeyer said “on behalf of the Port’s Board of Commissioners and myself, we are pleased that the Congressman was able to obtain these additional funds. Ever since his first announcement of funding made last year for 6 million towards this project and his visit to the Port with Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, we know he worked hard to make this happen. The jobs and economic development this project will create is a tremendous shot in the arm for our area and our region”.



For more information on the Port, please visit www.americascentralport.com


 

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Useful info about Wasp spray - 7/20/2011

Information  that  just  might  be  useful  someday.

Subject:   Wasp  Spray

I know some of you own GUNS,  but this is something to think about...

If you don't have a gun, here's a more humane way to wreck someone's evil plans for you.  Did you know this? I didn't.  I never really thought of it before. I guess I can get rid of the baseball bat.

Wasp Spray- A friend who is a receptionist in a church in a high risk area was concerned about someone coming into the office on Monday to rob them when they were counting the collection. She asked the local Police Department about using pepper spray, and they recommended to her that she get a can of wasp spray instead.

The wasp spray, they told her, can shoot up to twenty feet away and is a lot more accurate, while with the pepper spray, they have to get too close to you and could overpower you. The wasp spray temporarily blinds an attacker until they get to the hospital for an antidote. She keeps a can on her desk in the office, and it doesn't attract attention from people like a can of pepper spray would. She also keeps one nearby at home for home protection. Thought this was interesting and might be of use.

On the heels of a break in and beating that left an elderly woman in Toledo dead, self defense experts have a tip that could save your life.

Val Glinka teaches self-defense to students at Sylvania Southview High School.  For decades, he's suggested putting a can of wasp and hornet spray near your door or bed.

Glinka says, "This is better than anything I can teach them."

Glinka considers it inexpensive, easy to find, and more effective than mace or pepper spray. The cans typically shoot 20 to 30 feet; so if someone tries to break into your home, Glinka says, "Spray the culprit in the eyes!"   It's a tip he's given to students for decades.

It's also one he wants everyone to hear. If you're looking for protection, Glinka says look to the wasp spray. "That's going to give you a chance to call the Police; maybe get out.  Maybe even save a life.”

Please share this with all the people who are precious to your life

Did you also know that wasp spray will kill a snake? And a mouse!  It will! Good to know, huh?  It will also kill a wasp.!!   It actually kills many varmints including centipedes and ants.

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UTU to Congress: ‘Get serious on security’ - 7/14/2011

UTU to Congress: ‘Get serious on security’

WASHINGTON — America learned a tragic lesson a decade ago when armed terrorists gained entry to the flight decks of multiple commercial airliners. The results of 9/11 will live in infamy.

Inexplicably, neither railroads nor the federal government has moved to require the securing of locomotive cab doors and windows to prevent terrorists – whether foreign or domestic – from taking control of a train and wreaking a new calamity on Americans.

A similar security breach is possible at commercial bus terminals, and with commercial motor coaches, where drivers and passengers are vulnerable to armed attacks and hijackings.

That was the message delivered to the House Subcommittee on Transportation Security and Infrastructure Protection by UTU Alternate National Legislative Director John Risch July 12.

The FBI warned in 2002 that rail facilities are vulnerable to attacks by terrorists; and following the killing of Osama bin Laden, it was revealed he was planning an attack on railroads. Terrorist attacks already have been carried out on passenger trains in Madrid, Spain, and London, England.

Most chilling is a warning from the Chlorine Institute — that a terrorist-induced release of chlorine from a tank car could create a toxic cloud 40 miles long and 10 miles wide that could kill upwards of 100,000 people in an urban area within 30 minutes. In fact, a limited chlorine release from a tank car following a derailment in rural Graniteville, S.C., in 2005 killed nine and forced the evacuation of thousands.

Securing locomotive cabs is also essential for crew safety. In June 2010 in New Orleans, a conductor was shot to death and an engineer wounded in their locomotive cab during an armed robbery. In 1998, a commuter train was hijacked near Philadelphia; the engineer held at gunpoint.

“We believe it should be a requirement that all locomotives be equipped with locks for the doors and windows to prevent unauthorized entry into the operating compartment,” Risch told the subcommittee, which was seeking advice on how to enhance transportation security.

The UTU also recommends that fencing, video surveillance and security personnel be required for bus terminals, and that protective shields be installed on buses to protect drivers from unruly or deranged passengers.

Proper training of rail operating crews and bus drivers to recognize, respond to and report potential terrorist activities is a high priority of the UTU, Risch told the subcommittee.

“We need to adequately train bus, rail and transit workers across America so they are ready in the event of a terrorist threat or attack,” Risch said. “Properly training frontline workers is vital to surface transportation security, and is a cost-effective way to secure and safeguard our bus, rail and transit systems.

“In the event of an incident or attack, our members are the first on the scene — even before police, fire fighters, and emergency medical responders — and what they do in the first few minutes is crucial to minimizing destruction and loss of life,” Risch said.

The UTU already is working in partnership with Amtrak to develop a training program for on-board employees; and on Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis, the UTU is helping to develop a program to train front-line employees on how to recognize, respond to and report potential terrorist activity. Although the UTU has reached out to other freight railroads for partnerships to develop similar safety training programs, railroads are hamstrung due to a lack of federal funding.

“Officials from the Federal Transit Administration and the Transportation Security Administration testified previously before Congress on the need for, and the inherent value of, worker security training,” Risch said. “Yet too little has been done to actually ensure that employees receive adequate security training.”

Although the congressionally passed 9/11 Commission Act mandated that all frontline rail, transit and over-the-road bus employees undergo live training exercises, receive training on evacuation procedures and are instructed on crew and passenger communications and coordination, little has been accomplished, and training mandates are long overdue, Risch said.

“This is unacceptable and further delay only perpetuates the existing dangers,” he said. “Security training should not be a one-time, check-the-box exercise. Regularly scheduled follow-up training is critical.”

Risch also recommended that major rail terminals, where chemicals are stored, be fenced and equipped with video surveillance and security personnel; and that outdated FRA window glazing standards be improved, as current standards protect against only small-arms fire such as a .22 caliber bullet.

“Workers must be treated as partners in the battle to protect our vulnerable bus, rail and public transit systems,” Risch said.

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Contract Meeting - 7/11/2011

 

 
UTU-MO Logo    

UTU-Missouri State Legislative Board

 

St. Louis Area Contract Meeting

 

 

 
   

CONTRACT MEETING

 

July 16, 2011

 12 Noon

POLISH HALL

826 GREENWOOD

MADISON, IL

 

 

Memo to:  ALL UTU MEMBERS


 

Re:  PROPOSED NATIONAL AGREEMENT


 

UTU Vice President David Wier will host an informational meeting on Saturday July 16, 2011, at the Polish Hall in Madison, IL, to present the proposed UTU National Agreement.


 

This forum will brief members on the contract's details and provide for a response to all questions.  This is a great opportunity to learn the details of the proposal so that you can make an informed decision when the contract is sent out for a vote.

 

 

 

Find us on Facebook                                                                 Follow us on Twitter


 

                              Kenny Menges

United Transportation Union  

222 A Madison St

Jefferson City, MO 65101

573-634-3303

moutu@embarqmail.com

 

 

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Flooding Brings Hoards of Mosquitoes - 7/8/2011

Flooding brings in hoards of mosquitoes

by Jessica Machetta on July 8, 2011

in Flooding,Health & Medicine

Flooding brings in a whole new hoard of mosquitoes, some that have been waiting for years to hatch and bite. Floodwater mosquitoes are a breed that lay their eggs at the edges of floodwaters, so that when they recede, the eggs dry up. The next time the water rises, they hatch. Director of the Southeast Missouri Arbovirus Lab Christina Frazier says they chase and bite, but don’t transmit disease.

Dr. Christina Frazier tests mosquitoes in the Southeast Missouri Arbovirus Lab to determine if they are vector mosquitoes -- the type that transmit virus.

“There will be hoards after a flood. There will be a big boom of these this summer. If we are getting lots of mosquitoes, these are the type we will get,” Frazier says, noting that they look like your garden variety mosquito, but they are different to a trained eye. Their scientific name is aedes vexans, named in part because, she says, “they are vexing biters.”

There are two other types of mosquitoes swarming the state that can transmit West Nile and other diseases, Frazier says, which is why it’s important to dump anything with standing water, use insect repellant and avoid going out at dusk when mosquitoes most often feed. One of them is known as the Asian Tiger Mosquito, the other is the aedes albopictus.

“Right after a flood, we can expect to see an increase in pest mosquitoes,” she says.

At this point in the summer, she says the St. Louis County Health Department normally would be trapping about 200 mosquitoes a night in a trap. Recently, they’re collecting more than 1,000 per night.

“Everybody should be responsible for their own yards to make sure they don’t have spots holding water,” she says, adding that’s where vector mosquitoes — disease carriers — gather and lay eggs. ”Old paint cans, old swimming pools that are semi-dried up and old tires are likely culprits. If you have a lot of these items around, you are generally a breeding ground right in your own yard. We are better off if everyone cleans up their yards so we have fewer mosquitoes.” She says even a cigarette wrapper can be a breeding spot for mosquitoes.

Of the 30,000 mosquitoes St. Louis County has sent to Frazier’s lab, xix were determined to be carrying the West Nile Virus. However no mosquitoes carrying St. Louis Encephalitis have been identified yet this summer.

To avoid getting bit:

• Wear mosquito repellent when outdoors

• Avoid going out from dusk to dawn, when mosquitoes feed

• Wear long sleeved shirts if you are outdoors

Published from MissouriNet.

>>>
FRA cites A&S for HOS violation - 6/28/2011

FRA recommends Alton & Southern be fined for HOS violation
[06/28/2011]

CHICAGO (June 28)—Investigators for the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) have found that Alton & Southern Railroad officials violated the Federal Hours of Service Law (HOSL) last March when they held a switch crew on duty for more than 12 hours in order to administer drug tests and hold post-accident interviews.

The violation was committed after a one-car sideswipe that occurred March 29 in A&S’s Gateway Yard in East St. Louis. The incident did not cause a derailment and there were no injuries.

In a June 21 letter addressed to UTU Illinois Legislative Director Robert W. Guy, FRA Regional Administrator D.J. Tisor said A&S violated the Hours of Service law when it held the members of Job YAS231 28 beyond their 12-hour day after drug-and-alcohol testing had been completed.

Guy’s April 28 Formal Complaint to the FRA alleged that after the drug-and-alcohol tests the crew members were held beyond their Hours of Service and ordered to complete a company incident report and undergo oral questioning before being released to leave the property.

The crew had gone on duty at 2:30 p.m. Tisor said one crew member was eventually released at 4:59 a.m. the next day, while the other was not released until 5:16 a.m. Guy said both missed their next scheduled work day because the HOS violation had rendered them ineligible to report at their normal starting time.

“It is alarming that a carrier official would knowingly violate the Federal Hours of Service Law in order to hold an investigation after such a minor incident,” Guy said. “It’s irrelevant whether the officials were ignorant of the law or simply chose to ignore it. Either is a red flag.

“It would be one thing to hold a crew for a quick ‘reasonable cause’ drug-and- alcohol test,” Guy said. “But to hold a crew for almost three hours after they’ve expired to subject them to an investigation is a blatant violation and is unacceptable.”

Tisor said his office had forwarded its findings to the FRA Chief Counsel with a recommendation that A&S be fined for the violation.

Guy said the A&S incident disturbed him because another St. Louis switching carrier, the Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis, was fined for the same type of violation in June of last year after one of its crews was detained beyond its Hours of Service after a one-axle switching derailment.

Guy advised members who find themselves faced with similar supervisor conduct to comply with orders but report the incident fully to their union local for follow-up by the Illinois Legislative Board.

“If a supervisor holds you beyond your Hours of Service limitation for any reason, do not be insubordinate,” Guy said. “Comply with instructions, but try to remember the details of what happened and write them down as soon as you are able.”

Guy said members should jot down the names and titles of all supervisors involved, what the supervisors directed them to do, what advice or information the supervisors provided, and the time when the encounter began and ended.

“As soon after the incident as possible, share the information you have collected with your legislative representative or local chairman,” Guy said. “Don’t worry about writing up a full report. The union will do that, and we will take it to the appropriate authorities. As the Alton & Southern case proves, we’ll get the results.”

Article from http://www.illini.utu.org

>>>
Supreme Court declines to weaken FELA - 6/24/2011

Supreme Court declines to weaken FELA

WASHINGTON — In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court June 23 declined to tighten the standard of proof injured rail workers must demonstrate to win an award under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA).

The ruling is a significant victory for injured rail workers.

The FELA — a railroader’s most cherished workplace safety assurance — was passed by Congress more than a century ago to make railroads liable if an employee injury or death results “in whole or in part” from the negligence of any of its officers, agents or employees, or from any defect or insufficiency in equipment or roadbed.

At the time of the FELA’s passage in 1908, more than 4,000 railroaders were killed annually, and some 63,000 more suffered serious injuries each year.

The Supreme Court previously held that the FELA was “designed to put on the railroad industry some of the costs of the legs, arms, eyes, and lives which it consumed in its operation.”

The June 23 Supreme Court decision turned on a crossover vote by conservative Justice Clarence Thomas, who joined liberals Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sandra Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Stephen Bryer to rule against CSX and in favor of an injured CSX locomotive engineer.

The engineer had won a monetary award from a federal district court after being injured on the job in 2004 while operating a locomotive that the engineer contended was not suited for switching operations.

CSX twice unsuccessfully appealed the trial court’s decision – the first before the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and the second appeal before the Supreme Court. CSX contended in both unsuccessful appeals that injured rail workers should meet a more demanding standard of proof as is required in all non-FELA personal injury cases, not, as the trial court instructed the jury, that CSX was responsible for negligence if its negligence “played a part – no matter how small – in bringing about the injury.”

CSX sought a ruling that the employer’s action must be the “primary cause” of the injury. In fact, the “in whole or in part” language comes from the FELA itself, and that legislative language clearly impressed the Supreme Court’s majority in this case.

Writing for the majority, Justice Ginsburg said: “Juries in such cases are properly instructed that a defendant railroad ‘caused or contributed to’ a railroad worker’s injury ‘if [the railroad's] negligence played a part – no matter how small – in bringing about the injury.’ That, indeed, is the test Congress prescribed for proximate causation in FELA cases.”

Earlier Supreme Court cases upheld the right of unions to advise injured workers to obtain expert legal advice, and the right of unions to designate legal counsel possessing specialized knowledge in railroad operations and the FELA.

A listing of UTU Designated Legal Counsel — attorneys who answer to the UTU — is provided at www.utu.org by moving the cursor to “About UTU” in the red horizontal bar at the top of the home page and then clicking on “Designated Legal Counsel.” A listing of Designated Legal Counsel also may be obtained from local union officers or your general chairpersons.

If you are injured on the job, the FELA and your UTU Designated Legal Counsel are the best friends you and your family have. These successful trial lawyers are specialists in handling FELA claims, and are fully experienced in dealing with railroad claim agents and railroad lawyers.

And remember: Contributory negligence is not a bar to recovering under the FELA; and the FELA prohibits railroads from retaliating against employees who provide Designated Legal Counsel with factual information on injuries to fellow employees, or who testify in support of injured workers.

Each FELA lawsuit sends to the carriers a message about improving workplace safety that they cannot ignore

To read the June 23 Supreme Court decision, CSX Transportation, Inc. v. Robert McBride, click on the following link:

www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/10pdf/10-235.pdf

>>>
Illinois Bill to Strip Collective Bargaining Rights - 6/17/2011

Guess who has joined the push to strip collective bargaining rights from public employees!

Please read the following message from the Illinois AFL-CIO President Michael Carrigan:
 
 
It was reported yesterday that when the General Assembly returns to Springfield on Wednesday, June 22 to end the budget/capital funding stalemate a devastating bill will also be called for a vote in the Senate. 
 
Governor Pat Quinn, whom many of you worked diligently to elect last fall, is working to pass SB 1556 (Cullerton/Currie)   The House passed  SB 1556 by a vote of 62-52-1 in the waning hours of session on May 31.  SB 1556 is now on the order of final passage in the Senate.
 
In short, SB 1556 would strip collective bargaining rights from thousands of public employees in Illinois.
 
It is imperative that you call your State Senator and tell  them to vote no on SB 1556.   To have an even greater impact, I urge you have your members call their State Senator as well.   You may find your Senator's Springfield office phone number at
www.ilga.gov
 
After you call your Senate member, I also encourage you to call Governor Quinn's office and let him know what you think of his attempts to strip collective bargaining rights away from union members.  His office number is 217-782-6830.
 
Thank you for your assistance.
 
_________________________________
 
Robert W. Guy
State Director
UTU-Illinois Legislative Board

>>>
Increased USS business at AOS - 6/15/2011

Info e-mail recieved from Kris.

 

As Info

Increased business at AOS

Per USS (Halloran), they plan on shipping 7 barges of coils at the end of the month (each barge typically holds 15 to 20 car’s worth of material) and 8K of coils to Cargill (also at GC).  There is the potential that the Cargill traffic will move in opens as well but for the time being assume covers will be required.  Just wanted to give you the heads up.
 
Thanks, 
 
 
 
John S. Gogniat
 
National Account Manager
Norfolk Southern Corporation

>>>
US DOT PHMSA to hold Hazardous Materials class in KC - 6/15/2011

The US DOT Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration will hold a FREE 1-Day Workshop in Kansas City, MO, on Tuesday, August 23rd from 7:30 to 4:45 at:
Maple Woods
Metropolitan Community College
2601 NE Barry Road
Kansas City, MO 64156
P: 816-604-3170
 
The Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180) specify requirements for the safe and secure transportation of hazardous materials in commerce by rail car, aircraft, vessel, and motor vehicle.  These comprehensive regulations govern transportation-related activities by offerors (e.g., shippers, brokers, forwarding agents, freight forwarders, and warehousers); carriers (e.g., common, contract, and private); packaging manufacturers, re-conditioners, testers, and re-testers; and independent inspection agencies.
The HMR apply to each person who performs, or causes to be performed, functions related to the transportation of hazardous materials such as determination of, and compliance with, basic conditions for offering; filling packages; marking and labeling packages; preparing shipping papers; handling, loading, securing and segregating packages within a transport vehicle, freight container or cargo hold; and transporting hazardous materials.
This one-day workshop provides a basic overview of how to use the HMR and a summary of many of the requirements found in the HMR – for shipping and transporting Hazardous Materials which can affect transportation safety to include: Training Requirements, Packaging, Hazard Communications, and Security.
Who Should Attend? Anyone who offers or transports hazardous materials in commerce or has a desire to learn more about US DOT's Hazardous Materials Regulations.
Free Registration at:  http://www.phmsa.dot.gov/hazmat/training/seminars
 
Please plan on attending this free training opportunity.
 
 
Shirley McNew
Hazardous Materials Safety Assistance Team - Central Region
Office of Hazardous Materials Safety, Field Operation
Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
United States Department of Transportation
2300 East Devon Ave., Suite 478, PHH 43
Des Plaines, IL  60018
Phone 847-294-8580
shirley.mcnew@dot.gov

>>>
June 3rd Meeting - 6/14/2011

It was discussed and later voted by the BLET members for the locals vote to go in to approve the Fulton run Contract. The UTU votes were turned in as one yes and one no vote to the General Chairman.

 

>>>
Transport-employee fatigue continues to kill - 6/2/2011
Transport-employee fatigue continues to kill

While sleep scientists have established that going to work fatigued is like going to work drunk, there remains a disconnect among those who manage transportation firms. And people are needlessly dying and being seriously injured as a result.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood June 1 criticized his own Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for not sooner putting a North Carolina bus operator -- allegedly with a history of safety problems, including forcing drivers to work without sufficient rest -- out of business sooner.

When the FMCSA finally got around to taking that shutdown action against the bus company May 31, four more lives were lost and 54 more passengers were injured.

The cause of that rollover bus accident near Richmond, Va., May 27 was driver fatigue, according to Virginia State Police, who jailed the bus operator for reckless driving. Seven times since October 2009, the bus company -- Sky Express of Charlotte, N.C. -- had been cited by the FMCSA for violating federal hours-of-service regulations requiring adequate rest for drivers, according to USA Today.

"I'm extremely disappointed that this carrier was allowed to continue operating unsafely when it should have been placed out of service," LaHood told USA Today.

Sky Express received an "unsatisfactory" safety rating in April from the FMCSA, according to USA Today, but the FMCSA extended its investigation to, according to an FMCSA spokesperson, "make sure we had an airtight case to shut the company down."

LaHood told USA Today, "There is no excuse for delay when a bus operator should be put out of service for safety's sake. On my watch, there will never be another extension granted to a carrier we believe is unsafe."

The FMCSA said Sky Express had numerous violations for keeping fatigued drivers behind the wheel and failing to ensure its drivers were properly licensed, had proper medical certificates, and could read road signs in English.

The National Transportation Safety Board blamed driver fatigue for a 2008 bus crash in Utah that killed nine, and a 2004 crash in Arkansas that killed 14. A fatal bus crash near New York City March 12, which killed 15, is under investigation. The company operating the bus was cited five times in fewer than two years for allowing fatigued drivers behind the wheel.

UTU members should note that federal law protects aviation, bus and rail workers from retaliation and threats of retaliation when they report that a carrier violated federal hours-of-service regulations.

Whistleblower complaints may be filed directly with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), or you may contact a UTU designated legal counsel, your general chairperson or your state legislative director for assistance.

To view a more detailed OSHA fact sheet on whistleblower protection, click on the following link:

www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA-factsheet-whistleblower-railroad.pdf

June 2, 2011
>>>
RRB to withhold Medicare Parts C&D premiums - 6/1/2011
RRB to withhold Medicare Parts C&D premiums

The Railroad Retirement Board will begin June 1 to withhold from benefits checks premiums for Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage plans) and Medicare Part D (prescription drug plans). 

Withholding is voluntary, and beneficiaries should contact their plans to request withholding by the Railroad Retirement Board of these premiums from their monthly benefits payments.
  
Part C and Part D premiums vary according to the plan and provider.

Note that a new federal law requires some Part D beneficiaries also to pay an additional monthly adjustment amount, depending on a beneficiary's or married couple's modified adjusted gross income.
  
While the RRB will be able to deduct the regular Part D premiums for individuals who elect to have them withheld from their benefits payments, Part D enrollees subject to the monthly adjustment amount will continue to receive a bill for that portion as the Railroad Retirement Board says it is unable to deduct those amounts from benefits at this time.
  
The Part D income-related monthly adjustment amounts are $12, $31.10, $50.10 or $69.10, depending on the extent to which an individual beneficiary's modified adjusted gross income exceeds $85,000, or a married couple's income exceeds $170,000. The Social Security Administration determines if a monthly adjustment amount is due, based upon the most recent tax return information available from the IRS.
  
The Railroad Retirement Board also reminds Medicare beneficiaries that the annual enrollment period for Part C and Part D coverage will be between Oct. 15 and Dec. 7 this year, rather than Nov. 15 through Dec. 31, as it was in previous years. Changes and enrollments made during this period will still be effective Jan. 1, 2012.

>>>
Stay alert for Skin Cancer - 5/27/2011
Melanoma: Early detection a life saver

It's almost summer. The sun is higher in the sky. We spend more time outdoors. Thus, we invite skin cancer -- the most common form of cancer in America. And dark skin does not mean you are immune.

More skin cancer cases are diagnosed each year than breast, prostate, lung, and colon cancers combined. 

Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer, with one person dying of melanoma every hour.

While melanoma accounts for fewer than 5 percent of all skin cancer cases, it results in more than 75 percent of all cancer deaths. But if detected and treated early, the survival rate is 99 percent.

So, let's get serious about preventing melanoma -- as well as detecting and treating it before it's too late -- with the following information provided by United Healthcare:

Melanoma is caused primarily by exposure to ultra-violet (UV) rays from the sun.

People with fair skin, especially those with red or blond hair, are more at risk. While white males over age 50 represent the majority of people diagnosed with melanoma, darker-skinned people must also be careful. In fact, their risk is often overlooked, leading to a late-stage diagnosis.   

To minimize your risk of developing melanoma:

* Avoid exposure to the sun and protect your skin during the hours of the day when the sun's rays are the strongest -- between 10:00 a.m. and 3 p.m.

* Avoid significant tanning either from the sun or tanning salons.

* Protect your skin using sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 or higher (even in winter); and by wearing appropriate clothing such as wide-brimmed hats and long-sleeve shirts. 

* Use special sunscreens for babies and children with even higher SPFs. Studies show that one or more blistering sunburns during childhood may be a significant risk factor in developing melanoma later in life. 

How do you spot potential melanoma?

As early detection and treatment are critical to improving the likelihood of surviving melanoma, everyone should examine their skin carefully every six to eight weeks -- being especially observant for lesions, moles and skin markings.

Look for any changes in the number, size, shape or color of lesions, moles and skin markings. For men, they are usually located on the torso, head, and neck area; for women, they will often develop on the lower legs and torso.

The best approach to spotting melanoma is to learn the simple ABCD approach as a useful guide when examining your lesions, moles and skin markings:

A = Asymmetry:  Melanoma lesions are generally irregular or lopsided in shape (asymmetrical); noncancerous lesions are usually rounded (symmetrical).

B = Border:  Melanoma lesions usually have irregular borders that are ragged or notched; noncancerous lesions will generally have smoother, even borders.

C = Color:  Melanoma lesions often consist of many shades of black and brown; noncancerous lesions will usually be a single shade of brown.

D = Diameter:  Melanoma lesions are usually more than ¼ inch in diameter, which is about the size of a pencil eraser; noncancerous lesions will typically be less than this size in diameter.

Contact your doctor as soon as possible if you notice any unusual or odd-looking lesions, moles or skin markings. Your doctor will do a thorough examination of all of your lesions, moles and skin markings, and help you to assess your risk based on your medical history. 

If your doctor suspects any of them could be cancerous, a biopsy may be performed.

Remember that early detection and treatment are key actions to take to minimize the effects of melanoma.

>>>
Tornado Safety Checklist - 5/23/2011

The Red Cross has published a Tornado Safety Checklist that I wanted to bring to everyones attention. Great information to use and also print and share with family and friends.

Red Cross Tornado Safety Checklist

>>>
IL commission OKs new 2nd track and crossing upgrades - 5/23/2011

Illinois commission OKs new second track, upgrades to 14 crossings

Last week, the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) issued an order granting CN/Elgin, Joilet & Eastern Railway permission to build a second track between Joliet and New Lenox Township to accommodate increased traffic.

The new track — which must be completed within 12 months, according to the order — will include seven grade crossings. CN/EJ&E will pay for the construction of the second track, approach work and warning devices.

The ICC also approved four projects that call for upgrading 14 crossings to improve safety. The commission green lighted the installation of new automatic flashing light signals and gates with constant warning time circuitry at 12 Norfolk Southern Railway crossings in or near Bement, Danville, Fairmount, Ivesdale, Harristown, Niantic, Riverton, Sadorus and Sidney.

The ICC will provide monies from the Grade Crossing Protection Fund (GCPF) to cover 90 percent of project costs, which total more than $2.8 million. NS will fund remaining installation costs and be responsible for all future operating and maintenance expenses. Divided into three projects, the work must be completed within 18 months.

In addition, the commission granted CSX Transportation approval to begin installing automatic flashing light signals and gates at a crossing in Collinsville, and automatic flashing light signals at a crossing in Paris.

The ICC will provide monies from the GCPF to help fund the projects, which are estimated to cost more than $165,000 and must be completed within nine months. State funds will cover the cost of materials to renew crossing surfaces and CSXT funds will cover labor expenses.

>>>
Joint UTU-BLET Meeting - 5/23/2011

There will be a joint UTU-BLET Union meeting on June 3rd @ 3:30pm at Ravanelli's in Granite City.

We will be discussing the final drafts of the STL - Fulton and the STL - Mount Vernon IL proposed agreements.

There will also be discussion about the company's intentions to begin cutting brakemen off the jobs on the Illinois side. These issues will affect all of us in one way or another so EVERYONE'S attendance is strongly encouraged.

It will be held as an open forum so you can come and go as needed. Food will also be available for those attending.

The address is:  3 American Vlg Granite City, IL 62040-3706  Map Link

>>>
Difference of a BWI and DUI against your FRA Eng. Cert. - 5/19/2011

Brothers and Sisters,

This is an e-mail conversation between BLET Missouri Legilative Chairman Brian Kelley and The Missouri Hwy Patrol Water Division concerning how someone recieving a BWI (boating while intoxocated) might affect your Engineers FRA Certification. As always the safest course with a Designated Driver (Operator) is definately the suggested approach. Be careful and enjoy your summer. 

 

Dear Sir,

As locomotive engineers our federal certification is based on our personal
driving record in the state in which we hold a license.  If we receive a
DUI we are subject to decertification and normally must undergo some type
of drug and alcohol training or treatment in order to return to work.

My question of you is whether a DUI while operating a motororized vessel on
a state lake is the equivilent of a DUI while operating a motor vehicle in
the State of Missouri?

Thank you in advance for your assistance.

Sincerely,


Brian Kelley, Chairman
Brotherhood of Locomotive
Engineers and Trainmen
Missouri State Legislative Board

 

Brian,

In Missouri a Boating While Intoxicated arrest does not affect someone's
driver's license.  However, a 3rd conviction for a BWI is a felony and
would show that on your criminal record.  In Missouri if arrested and
convicted for a BWI you are not allowed to operate a vessel on state
waterways until you have taken an approved boating safety course.

Sgt. Jerry Callahan
Missouri State Highway Patrol
Water Patrol Division Public Information Officer

>>>
IL bill would benefit freight system - 5/17/2011

Illinois bill would benefit freight system planning, Metropolis Strategies says

Illinois’ General Assembly has approved legislation that would require the state to assess the freight transportation system and craft a plan to improve the flow of freight by rail, roads, air and water in Illinois, according to business and civic organization Metropolis Strategies.

The Freight Mobility Plan Act (House Bill 1761), which awaits action by Gov. Pat Quinn, calls for a freight mobility component to be added to the state transportation plan. State officials would be required to assess the freight system and identify trends, needs and economic opportunities. In addition, they would need to issue recommendations on operation and management improvements; projects that would eliminate system inefficiencies; project funding methods; and policies that would ensure goods movement, Metropolis Strategies officials said in a prepared statement.

During the next 20 years, the Chicago area’s freight-rail traffic is expected to double and two-thirds of the region’s need for new roads will be driven by increased truck traffic, requiring “a stronger leadership role in planning and guiding the [freight] system as a whole,” they said.

“More than 27 percent of Illinois jobs are in industries closely tied to freight transportation, and many businesses locate in Illinois because of the state's capacity to provide reliable, cost-effective freight services," said Metropolis Strategies President and Chief Executive Officer George Ranney. “Unless the state plans for improvements to the system and helps make sure the movement of goods is efficient, those jobs will be jeopardized by an inefficient system that is even slower than it is today and more costly to businesses.”

Formerly Chicago Metropolis 2020, Metropolis Strategies supports policy initiatives and programs aimed at growing the Chicago region's economy.

Article from http://www.progressiverailroading.com/

>>>
Proposed agreement for St. Louis to Fulton Ky. - 5/16/2011

We have recieved the latest copy of the proposed agreement for the St. Louis to Fulton Ky. run. Use the link below to view the Proposed Agreement.

>>>
St. Louis to Mt. Vernon - 5/16/2011

We have also recieved the latest copy of the proposed St. Louis to Mt. Vernon agreement. Use the link to view the Proposed Agreement.

>>>
News Update from Director Menges - 5/16/2011

 

 
UTU-MO Logo    

UTU-Missouri State Legislative Board

May 2011

 

 
Welcome to UTU-MO

In an effort to expand our communications to all UTU members we ask that you forward this email to all UTU members on your email list and encourage them to sign up to receive our newsletter 

Missouri Legislative Session Ends

 end of session

The 2011 Missouri legislative session ended May 13th with the ceremonial tossing of papers in the House Chamber.  

  

The session began with a fervent effort by the majority party to push a very pro-business anti-union agenda.   That agenda included right to work, paycheck protection/deception, changes in union elections, elimination or restricting prevailing wage, changes to minimum wage.

 

click here for a list of bills passed/failed/vetoed

 

While the fight is not over labor worked together to keep these efforts from being realized this session.  The UTU joined with the AFL-CIO and all of organized labor to work together and reached out to both sides of the aisle and managed to form relationships that resulted in this success.  With eighty new legislators this session, this combined effort forged new allies in the capital.  When SB 202(paycheck deception-annual authorization of PAC funds) passed the house there were 18 Republicans who voted against the bill.  SB 202 died after the Senate refused to agree with the House.

 

As special thanks to all UTU members who took the time to write, call or email their Senators and Representatives.  While we work the halls of the capital every day  keeping the legislators informed it is the individual constituents who vote that make the difference!

 

click here for AFL-CIO Legislative Wrap Up Report

utupacwe are one support

Election 2012

The Congressional election map for the 2012 US Congressional election is set.  The Missouri Legislature overrode Governor Nixon's veto of the redistricting map on May 4th.  Missouri lost one Congressional district after the 2010 Census because the state's population growth over the past decade has not kept pace with the rest of the nation.

 

Enter Your city in the box in the lower left corner of the map and see which new district you reside

Interactive redistricting map 

 

Governor's Race

 

While Missouri continues to lean to the political right Governor Nixon continues his early lead(48%-34%) over his likely opponent Lt. Governor Peter Kinder.

 

Latest MO Governor 2012 poll  

 

UTU PAC

Protect your paycheck, protect your career, protect your family and protect your retirement join UTU PAC Today!

 

Download UTU PAC Form--sign up today

 

UTUIA

 

Help Support Yourself!

 

AFLAC has contributed $6,000,000 in 20 years to Republicans

 

Support UTUIA!

 

Learn more--Tell AFLAC No Thanks!

U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood Announces $2 Billion for High-Speed Intercity Rail Projects to Grow Jobs, Boost U.S. Manufacturing and Transform Travel in America

Missouri - Merchant's Bridge Replacement - $13.5 million to advance the design of a new bridge over the Mississippi River on the Chicago to St. Louis Corridor, replacing a bridge built in the 1890s.

 

 

Click here for full press release

 

  

Midwest Corridors - $268.2 million to purchase 48 high-performance passenger rail cars and 7 quick-acceleration locomotives for 8 corridors in the Midwestern States: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, and Missouri

 

 

 

Voter ID

 

Senate Joint Resolution 2 was truly agreed on May 9, 2011.  Since this is a Resolution it does not go to the Governor for his signature, but goes on the 2012 ballot. 

 

Assistant House Minority Leader Tishaura Jones said it best, "Democracy is threatened when the party in power works to restrict voting rights. With disenfranchising huge numbers of voters more important to house Republicans than creating jobs, Missourians should be extremely concerned."

Join Our Mailing List

The UTU Missouri State Legislative Board invites you to join our mailing list to receive the latest news affecting your job, your family and your retirement!

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Kenny Menges

United Transportation Union

 

222 A Madison St

Jefferson City, MO 65101

573-634-3303

moutu@embarqmail.com

 

 

 
 

 

>>>
Al-Qaida ideas of rail terror - 5/6/2011
al-Qaida but one transport terrorist threat

The news media may be atwitter with concerns of an al-Qaida attack on trains, but there is no validation that any specific attack is imminent or has been planned.

What is crucial is that each of us -- whether we work for an airl, bus, freight train, transit or passenger train operator -- remains alert, observant and prepared to report whatever appears out of the ordinary around yards, terminals and rights-of-way.

This is an meaningful reminder to review with fellow workers and supervisors your carrier's procedures for reporting safety and security concerns.

If you have not heard or read the news, intelligence gathered from the Pakistan compound where Osama bin Laden was killed indicates al-Qaida had considered -- but not necessarily planned -- a terrorist attack on trains this coming Sept. 11, which will be the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

The New York Times reports it "confirmed" that documents obtained from the bin Laden compound "include a discussion of tampering with tracks to derail a train on a bridge." But the newspaper added, "There was no evidence of a specific plot."

Terrorist threats are not limited to al-Qaida, and domestic terrorism also is a possibility.

In October 1995, two locomotives and eight cars of Amtrak's Sunset Limited derailed near Palo Verde, Ariz., on Southern Pacific (now Union Pacific) tracks, with four cars tumbling 30-feet from a trestle bridge into a dry river bed, killing a sleeping car attendant and injuring 78 passengers.

The FBI said sabotage likely was the cause, finding the rails had been shifted out of position and the track circuit closed to prevent signals from alerting the operating crew.

That act of terrorism was similar to one in 1939 in Carlin, Nev., which killed 24 passengers aboard the City of San Francisco passenger train operating over Southern Pacific track.

Neither the 1995 nor 1939 act of sabotage was solved by law enforcement.

The Department of Homeland Security said May 5, "We have no information of any imminent terrorist threat to the U.S. rail sector. We want to stress that this alleged al-Qaida plotting is based on initial reporting, which is often misleading or inaccurate and subject to change."

New organizations also are report that other materials found at the bin Laden compound indicate a desire to target major mass-transit hubs, similar to attacks that have occurred in India, Spain and the United Kingdom.

May 6, 2011
>>>
Trains collide and explode in Oregon - 5/4/2011

Lumber and Ethanol Trains collide, massive flames erupt in Oregon. - http://on.msnbc.com/mOpxrH

May 4: Two trains west of Portland, Oregon, collide Wednesday, sending massive flames into the air and prompting a quarter-mile evacuation zone. Msnbc.com's Al Stirrett  

PORTLAND -- A train derailment along Highway 30 west of Cornelius Pass Road created a massive, two-alarm fire Wednesday afternoon, causing evacuations in the area.

A Hazmat team was also sent in to evaluate the situation and crews had the fire put out around 4 p.m.

Multiple crews from the Portland Fire Bureau, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue and Scappoose Fire Department were dispatched, but later pulled back after the possibility of an explosion of nearby  tankers holding 20,000 gallons of ethanol, Portland Fire & Rescue crews said.

Fears of a possible explosion or exposure to the toxic fumes forced crews to pull back and call for evacuations in the area.

The highway was closed and evacuations were ordered for a half-mile around the area.

Drivers were advised to expect long delays and Hwy 30 commuters were encouraged to take Interstate 5 to Longview or Highway 26 west as alternate routes Wednesday evening.

The derailment happened near NW Chestnut Lane.

Highway 30 was closed from NW Rocky Point Rd to NW Newberry Rd and Cornelius Pass Rd. was closed at Skyline. NW Logie Trail Road was closed between Highway 30 and NW Skyline.

Local access was being provided from NW Skyline Blvd. to Cornelius Pass area residents who live as far east as Sheltered Nook. 

The train's owner told KGW that a train with 59 lumber cars was traveling westbound when it derailed. The derailed trains hit a group of 20 stationary tanker cars on a side track, including 13 ethanol tanker cars. That caused the fiery blaze.

Restrictions on the Columbia River were also put in place.

The train engineer was not injured, according to the train's owner.

Several crews were parked on the highway and pouring water from raised platforms, both on the flames and in the immediate area, as the burning ethanol vaporized off of the cars.

Fire crews said unmanned "ground turrets" sending streams of water to cooling nearby uninvolved tankers were to prevent an explosion.

The tanker cars were owned by Genessee & Wyoming, the parent company of Portland & Western railroad.

>>>
UTU, rails have tentative 5yr agreement - 5/1/2011
UTU, rails in tentative new 5-year agreement

A tentative new five-year national rail agreement covering wages, benefits and working conditions has been reached between the UTU and the National Carriers' Conference Committee (NCCC).

The tentative agreement is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2010, and extends through Dec. 31, 2014.

The tentative agreement, which amends the existing national agreement, must be ratified by each affected UTU craft under the craft-autonomy provisions of the UTU Constitution. The existing national agreement remains in force under provisions of the Railway Labor Act.

Details of the tentative agreement are being withheld pending its presentation to a yet-to-be-scheduled meeting of the Association of UTU General Chairpersons. General chairpersons will then have 15 days to submit written questions. The questions and answers will be provided to all members prior to the ratification vote.
 
Railroads represented by the NCCC include BNSF, CSX, Kansas City Southern, Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific and many smaller railroads. Some 38,000 UTU members are affected by the tentative new agreement.

This is the first agreement reached this round of national bargaining with the NCCC. It was reached, voluntarily, without need for mediation. However, two members of the National Mediation Board -- Elizabeth Dougherty and Linda Puchala -- served as facilitators during the two most recent rounds of talks between the UTU and the NCCC leading to this tentative agreement.

UTU International President Mike Futhey thanked his negotiating team for "their hard work and long hours. I am confident our general chairpersons will react positively when the details of this agreement are presented to them."

In addition to UTU lead negotiator Futhey, the negotiating team includes Assistant President Arty Martin; National Legislative Director James Stem; UTU International Vice Presidents Robert Kerley and Delbert Strunk; and General Chairpersons John Lesniewski (CSX, GO 049), Pate King (NS, GO 680) and Doyle Turner (CSX, GO 347).

Futhey also praised retired UTU General Secretary & Treasurer Dan Johnson for his emphasizing, early in the process and through a series of opinion articles published on the UTU website, the value of interest-based bargaining whereby both sides strive to understand the needs of the other.

"Interest-based bargaining worked well for the UTU in reaching a ratified national agreement in 2008, and interest-based bargaining was instrumental again this round in guiding both sides to a voluntary tentative agreement," Futhey said.

Other labor organizations -- bargaining as part of two separate coalitions -- remain in negotiations with the NMB, and mediation has been invoked in those separate talks.

One coalition includes the Transportation Communications Union, the American Train Dispatchers Association, the International Association of Machinists, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and the Transport Workers Union.

A second coalition still negotiating with the NCCC includes the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes, the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, the Brotherhood of Boilermakers and Blacksmiths, the National Conference of Firemen and Oilers, and the Sheet Metal Workers International Association.

April 29, 2011

 

Rumors are a 17% pay increase over the time of the contract, no increase in monthly health and welfare fees. We will keep you updated as more information comes out.

>>>
NS first-quarter profit leaps 26% - 4/28/2011
NS first-quarter profit leaps 26 percent

Norfolk Southern reported a 26 percent increase in profit for first quarter 2011 versus first quarter 2010. This follows a 45 jump in NS profit for calendar-year 2010.

NS CEO Wick Moorman said the railroad intends to add some 1,100 new workers during 2011, returning employment to the same level as in 2008.

NS operating ratio for first quarter 2011 was 77.1 percent, higher than the 75.2 percent in the first quarter 2010, owing, in part, to severe winter weather. The fourth-quarter 2010 NS operating ratio was 71.9 percent.

Operating ratio is a railroad's operating expenses expressed as a percentage of operating revenue, and is considered by economists to be the basic measure of carrier profitability. The lower the operating ratio, the higher is profit.

Moorman told Wall Street analysts, "We see continuing opportunities for growth in almost every segment of our business, and we're optimistic about our prospects for the balance of 2011."

NS operates some 20,000 route miles in 22 states and the District of Columbia.

April 28, 2011
>>>
News Update from State Director Menges - 4/22/2011

 

 
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UTU-Missouri State Legislative Board

Email-Update - April 22, 2011

 

 
If you have trouble openning the newsletter please drop a note to moutu@embarqmail.com  Feel free to email this to others on your list.  At the current time we are only sending this to the officers but in the near future we will expand our mailing as we attempt to better inform our members.

Switching Operations Fatality Analysis

  

In support of achieving the Switching Operations Fatality Analysis (SOFA) goal of Zero Switching Fatalities, the purpose of this report is to:

 

Present the analysis and findings of the SOFA Working Group (SWG) to the railroad industry.

 

 Offer ideas on improving the safety of Train, Yard, and Engine (TY&E) employees performing switching operations.

 

Encourage implementation of improved safety practices with the cooperation of government, labor, and management.

 

 view report volume 1         view report volume 2      

 
 

Crew Van Safety

UTU article "fighting for safer crew vans"

The Missouri State Legislative Board along with the BLET and BMWE have worked with Senator Green and Representative Schad for the past three years on van legislation.  Click here to view SB 107

 

 We all have stories to tell about fatigued and unsafe drivers.  It is imperative that we forward these incidents to our local and state UTU officers so that we can support our position.

 

This is a prime example of "election have consequences." With the current leadership in the Missouri Legislature union supported bills never see the light of day. 

 

UTU PAC is our engine to elect and help candidates of all parties who support our deals and goals.        Download UTU PAC form

 

 

CEO PAY WATCH

 

The CEO's funding the political attacks we're seeing in the Missouri legislature are raking in millions while pushing cuts to the minimum wage, weakening workplace protections against age discrimination and trying to roll back child labor laws.

 

In 2010 the average CEO made the same pay as 252 teachers

 

www.PayWatch.org

 

  

      GETTING THERE...

          IS IT WORTH

             YOUR LIFE?

 

      Rail Safety Week 

       April 25-29, 2010


 

Check out the activities to promote rail safety 

      

.HELP BAIL ME OUT!!!

 

I will be "going to jail" on April 28th in support of MDA. 

I lost a young friend to MDA and I made a promise I would do all I could to help find a cure.

Click here to make a donation

Find us on Facebook                                                                 Follow us on Twitter
 

Kenny Menges

United Transportation Union

 

222 A Madison St

Jefferson City, MO 65101

573-634-3303

moutu@embarqmail.com

 

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RCO shove info (e-mail conversation) - 4/22/2011

As I don't get around our remote operations much I don't know if we are having any of these long shove movement issues. If so please contact me and I will get this information passed along.                               Thanks, Jason

Brothers and Sisters,
 
If you have any situations while working that require you to ride the side of the car an "excessive" distance while in an RCO job  please forward that information to this office. 
 
Thanks
Kenny Menges
 
 
----- Original Message -----
From: bob.guy
To: William Mathes
Cc: Ken Menges ; James Stem ; Al Nowlin
Sent: Friday, April 22, 2011 10:56 AM
Subject: Fwd: RCO - Dupo Local


Bill, please find below some information regarding the issue of RCO operations in the St. Louis area, specifically regarding shoving lengths.  It just so happened that I had a previously scheduled meeting with FRA's Ken Lanman last week.  I took the opportunity to discuss the issue with him and shared with him your letter of concern.  He, in turn, relayed our discussion and information to Ric Kutch.
 
As you can see, Ric got right to work to notify the UP of FRA's "concerns" regarding the routine practice of requiring the RCO jobs in the area to shove great lengths at certain locations.  He garnered the attention of Omaha officials to be sure that this concern was made a high priority and that the info would trickle down, instead of possibly being neglected on the local level.  Please continue to gather information regarding the specific job ID's that encounter this problem most frequently, Ric had asked me for that info when we discussed the issue earlier this week.  Then get that info to Kenny or I so that we may pass it along.  Let me know how and when the issue has been addressed by UP so that I can keep FRA posted on the developments.
 
Also, FRA expressed to me their full support for any employee (who is ordered/required to perform such a shove) to perform that work in a safe manner and to do so at a pace that is consistent with that employee's physical abilities, and to let the FRA know if any supervisor ever "pushes the envelope" to force an employee to perform such work at an unsafe or impractical pace.
 
Thanks, 

Robert W. Guy
State Director
Illinois Legislative Board
United Transportation Union

----- Forwarded Message -----
From: "eric kutch"
To: "bob guy1" Cc: "ken lanman"
Sent: Friday, April 22, 2011 10:26:28 AM
Subject: RCO - Dupo Local


Bob
 
Per our discussion regarding the Dupo Local and concerns related to shoving distance and RCO riding of car(s).  FRA brought this concern to the Director of Operations at the Omaha Headquarters level, at which time the concern was presented at the Superintendents meeting, thereafter, discussed during the Vice Presidents meeting.
 
I am informed the Dupo concern will be addressed in one of two avenues: 1.  A car equipped with platform will be added to the local; and/or: 2.  A second locomotive will be added to the local to allow one unit to be free to perform switching moves while the second unit stays with the local train/cars.
 
As we discussed, currently FRA does not have specific regulation in place that provides for a length of shove, CFR Part 218, Subpart F does address blind shoves, to the extent a track is known to be clear.  We share your concern for the physical demands of riding on the side of a car for long-distances, and, hope the UP will address the Dupo Local situation in a timely manner.
 
If you should receive any feedback from your constituents please share the same with me, I will continue to monitor this concern.
 
Again, thank you for promoting safety.
 
Eric (Ric) N. Kutch
Acting Staff Supr./Sr. RSOM

>>>
April 25-29 declared rail safety week in Missouri - 4/21/2011

GETTING THERE.... IS IT WORTH YOUR LIFE?

Rail Safety Week is upon us... check out the activities statewide to promote rail safety.

http://www.modot.org/newsandinfo/District0News.shtml?action=displaySSI&newsId=79039

MoDOT News Release  
 
April 19, 2011
Getting There - Is It Worth Your Life?
Missouri Agencies Promote Rail Safety Week on April 25-29

JEFFERSON CITY - The statistics are alarming. Nearly every three hours, a person or vehicle is hit by a train in the United States. That raises the question, getting there - is it worth your life?
In Missouri, which is in the top 10 of all states in terms of railroad operations, there was an increase in highway-rail crossing collisions last year from 32 in 2009 to 41 in 2010.  Those incidents resulted in eight fatalities, two more than in 2009.  Nine pedestrians were killed while walking where unauthorized on railroad property or tracks compared to 12 in 2009.

Gov. Jay Nixon has proclaimed April 25-29 as Rail Safety Week in Missouri. The Missouri Department of Transportation, Missouri State Highway Patrol and Missouri Operation Lifesaver will co-sponsor the special week with several efforts aimed at educating Missourians about the need to follow safety rules at railroad tracks and be careful around railroad property.

 
MoDOT has produced public service announcements in accordance with the national Operational Lifesaver organization's "Getting There - Is It Worth Your Life?" campaign.  The PSAs effectively draw attention to the choices motorists and pedestrians face every day at railroad tracks and/or crossings: whether to follow rail safety rules or potentially pay a deadly consequence. After all, there are more than 4,000 miles of railroad tracks and nearly 4,000 public highway-rail crossings in Missouri. The PSAs will be provided to media and will be available to the public on YouTube at www.youtube.com/modotvideo  by Monday, April 25.
MoDOT will also host an online quiz during the week, providing a fun and rewarding opportunity to learn about rail safety.  Take the "Train Your Brain" quiz and enter to win great prizes throughout the week at http://www.modot.gov/.  
In addition, positive enforcement events will be held in several communities across the state.  MoDOT, Missouri Operation Lifesaver, Missouri State Highway Patrol, Metrolink St. Louis, railroad and local law enforcement staff will team up to conduct public rail safety presentations at several locations during Rail Safety Week, including:
•·         Saturday, April 23: Kirkwood - 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. - Amtrak Station, 110 W. Argonne
•·         Monday, April 25: Louisiana - 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. - Route 79 crossing
                                     St. Joseph - 9 a.m. - location to be determined
                                                 St. Louis - 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. - Arch Lacledes Landing (MetroLink)
                                                 St. Louis - 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. - Central West End (MetroLink)  
•·         Tuesday, April 26: Bowling Green - 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. - Locust Street crossing 
                                     Jefferson City - 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. - Hwy. 179 crossing
                                     St. Louis - 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. - North Hanley (MetroLink)
                                     St. Louis - 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. - Central West End (MetroLink)
•·         Wed., April 27:     Cowgill - 9:30 a.m. - location to be determined
                                                 
                                                  Curryville - 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. - Main Street crossing

                                                  St. Louis - 10 a.m. news conference - Civic Center MetroLink     
                                                     Station, 1413 Spruce St. (MetroLink)
•·         Thurs., April 28:    Vandalia - 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. - Main Street crossing
                                      Lee's Summit - time and location to be determined
•·         Friday, April 29:    Mexico - 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. - Morris Street crossing 
                                      Jefferson City - 9:15 a.m. news conference - 601 W. Main
Additional education and enforcement events will be scheduled throughout the remainder of the year as needed to target counties with the highest number of highway-rail crossing incidents.


>>>
Help the FRA stop harassment - 4/21/2011
Help FRA stop harassment; improve safety

By Jo Strang
FRA Associate Administrator for Safety

The Federal Railroad Administration's Risk Reduction Program is a voluntary industry-wide initiative to reduce accidents and injuries and build a strong safety culture by expanding the toolkit to analyze and manage risk.

Eventually, these assessments will complement other programs such as safety inspections of railcars and injury reporting.

We are currently drafting a regulation requiring railroads to develop comprehensive risk reduction programs. 

The FRA Risk Reduction Program affects every railroader through timely reporting of employee injuries and illnesses.

Additionally, an FRA team is collecting data on current practices and is seeking ways to prevent harassment and intimidation of injured railroad employees.

The data is collected from FRA complaint and enforcement records and directly from rail labor organizations.

The FRA also is working with outside sources, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), to gain a clearer understanding of that agency's whistleblower regulation for railroad employees, and other factors that can contribute to solving harassment problems. 

Using what they have learned, our Risk Reduction Program team conducted numerous presentations for UTU members on their rights regarding work-related injuries. The team learned a tremendous amount about current conditions railroad employees face daily.

The FRA also is strongly encouraging railroads to take actions that remove the punitive policies and practices that invite or induce retaliatory harassment and intimidation. 

Amtrak is one railroad that has taken strides in this direction.

In implementing its Safe 2 Safer program, Amtrak has taken positive steps to improve its safety culture. The FRA Risk Reduction Program team noted that, as a result, the number of injuries reported by Amtrak employees has risen as expected, and the number of OSHA whistleblower cases reported by employees has decreased. 

The FRA hopes this indicates that injured Amtrak employees are now seeking and receiving appropriate care; and that other railroads will learn from Amtrak's success and implement similar programs.

The FRA appreciates the UTU's assistance in providing this invaluable data and input to the investigation team. When and where the team is successful in mitigating risks and hazards identified, safety is improved for railroad employees and the public.

An Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was published in the Federal Register in December, and we are currently reviewing the comments received. However, in order to obtain as much stakeholder input as possible, we plan to conduct a public hearing.

In the meantime, we would appreciate receiving comments and suggestions from UTU members, which should be sent to the UTU National Legislative Office in Washington, D.C., which will collect and forward them to the FRA'S Risk Reduction Program team.

Thank you for your involvement in building a strong rail safety culture.

April 21, 2011
>>>
TRRA & Tri-City port agreement - 4/20/2011

From: Crawley, Melvin L.
Sent: Tuesday, April 19, 2011 6:02 AM
To: TN FLD IL StL Trainmasters
Subject: FW: TRRA
 
TRRA TrI-City trackage agreement will sent to them today for signature. 
 
Melvin L. Crawley

>>>
News update from Director Menges - 4/6/2011
UTU-MO Logo    

UTU-Missouri State Legislative Board

Email-Update - April, 2011

This is a work in progress--if you have any suggestions or comments please email them to moutu@embarqmail.com

 Contribute to preserve collective bargaining

In state after state, anti-union right-wing extremists are targeting labor unions for destruction. It started with public-employee unions, but that's not the end game. The end game is destruction of all labor unions in America.  

The UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund will be limited to financing efforts to raise public awareness, support for workplace democracy and recalls of anti-union lawmakers.                                      More information on how to contribute

Don't Let Corporate Politicains SILENCE Your VOICE

 With more money pouring into politics from big corporations than ever before, it isutupac crucial that we protect our own interest as working families.  Through our union, we fight for things that benefit all workers--like food jobs, pension protections and workplace safety.  Big corporations want to change all that.  They want the Missouri Legislature to create burdensome regulations that interfere with union members' political participation.  If they get their way, they will weaken the one organization where we can make our voices heard--OUR UNION!

 

Call or write your state legisaltors today and tell them workers like us should have the right to pool our money to fight for the isseus that we care about.

Stop SB 202, HB 466 and HB 492          Legislator Lookup

RAILROAD RETIREMENT UNDER ATTACK

 

A recent opinion article by Fox News laid out the ideas of the right winged extremist to eliminate the Railroad Retirement System and fold it into Social Security.read article
  
UTU PAC enables us to fight off these unwarranted attacks.      UTU PAC allows us to support elected officials and candidates that support our ideals and goals.  Donate to UTU PAC and protect your family, your job and your retirement! UTU PAC Form 
 

we are one support

 

SCHEDULED EVENTS

 

JACKSON DAY

Springfield, Mo

April 8-9, 2011

Bring your donations of nonperishable goods for Ozarks Food Harvest!

Come enjoy the hospitality rooms  and visit with our union friendly elected official

More information

 Governor Nixon announces Missouri plan  for high speed rail 

 press release


 

nixon at kirkwood

MoDot Director Kevin Keith and Governor Nixon at Kirkwood, Mo. Amtrak station after announcement of Missouri high Speed Rail Plan

 

.

 

Missouri State Legislative Board

Ken Menges, Director

222 A Madison St.

Jefferson City, Mo 65101

moutu@embarqmail.com

573-634-3303

 


>>>
Joint Union Meeting - 4/6/2011

ATTENTION: According to information I recieved.

There will be two joint (UTU 1405 and BLET 444) union meetings on Wed. April 13th at 11a and 6p. Meetings will be held at Ravanelli's Restaurant in Granite City. All operating employees are encouraged to attend one of these meetings. Topics of discussion will be the "NEW" port work, coal trains, and Kentucky traffic. We look forward to seeing you there. The address is 3 American Vlg. Granite City, IL 62040-3706 or click on the name above for a google map view.

 

>>>
UTU seeks worker protection from HAZMAT - 3/30/2011
UTU seeks worker protection from hazmat

WASHINGTON -- A doubling in the number of damaged or leaking hazardous materials containers shipped by rail has prompted the UTU and six other rail labor organizations to petition the Federal Railroad Administration for enhanced safety standards to protect rail workers and the public.

Rail labor is concerned that the FRA routinely grants special permission for railroads to transport damaged hazardous materials containers on mainline tracks to repair facilities.

In fact, the number of such requests has more than doubled since 2007, subjecting rail workers and the public to an unacceptable risk of exposure, the labor organizations told the FRA.

"Railroads and shippers must do more to reduce the incidence of non-conformance," the organizations told the FRA.

Among changes sought by rail labor is advance notification to rail workers and necessary protection when workers are in the vicinity of damaged containers transporting hazmat.

Current federal regulations provide no requirement that safety devices be provided to protect rail workers from exposure to hazmat.

The labor organizations told the FRA that operating crews should be provided emergency escape breathing apparatus when involved in the movement of hazmat containers.

Although there have been no injuries or known exposures, the risk of employee exposure will only increase if the current rate of movement approvals continues, the FRA was told.

"Railroads and shippers have a business interest in timely review and approval of movement requests," the labor unions told the FRA.

"As soon as the backlog impacts their bottom line, railroads and shippers will pressure FRA to accelerate the approval process. Such acceleration will undoubtedly diminish the level of detail and due diligence now afforded each request, resulting in an increased probability of unintended consequences such as fire, explosion or chemical exposure," rail labor said.

In addition to the UTU, rail labor organizations jointly providing the comments to the FRA include the American Train Dispatchers Association, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes, the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, the Transport Workers Union, and the Transportation Communications Union.

Click here to read rail labor's submission to the FRA.

>>>
NMB officials Join contract talks - 3/30/2011
NMB officials join national labor talks

In an effort to facilitate a new national rail agreement between the UTU and most of the nation's railroads, two members of the National Mediation Board attended the ninth negotiating session between the UTU and the National Carriers' Conference Committee (NCCC) in late March.

NMB members Linda Puchala, a Democrat, and Elizabeth Dougherty, a Republican, met with both sides as facilitators.

The UTU is the only rail union not in mediation with the carriers, and the board members' appearance was not in a mediating role. Once the sides enter mediation, the NMB takes charge of negotiations.

"We continue to make progress through interest-based bargaining toward developing a common framework recognizing the needs of both sides, and we remain prepared to reach a voluntary agreement with the carriers," said UTU International President Mike Futhey.

"At the March session, the negotiations were focused on specific issues with participation by the NMB officials," Futhey said. "Non-referable proposals were exchanged and positions discussed." Non-referable proposals mean that proposals now on the table cannot be put before a third-party presidential emergency board were that to occur.

"A tenth negotiating session is scheduled for late April, and we have been promised continued assistance by the NMB," Futhey said.

The NCCC represents BNSF, CSX, Kansas City Southern, Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific and many smaller railroads. Some 40,000 UTU members employed by those railroads are covered by the national agreement.

The national agreement came open for amendment Jan. 1, 2010, and remains in force until amendments are concluded under provisions of the Railway Labor Act.

The two sides have been pursuing interest-based bargaining in their talks. Interest-based bargaining involves joint problem solving whereby both sides seek to understand the needs of the other. It differs from demand-based bargaining, where each side's list is endless.

"Our negotiating team has been armed with a solid understanding of carrier economics and fact-based arguments justifying our Section 6 notice that was prepared by our general chairpersons," Futhey said.

In addition to UTU lead negotiator President Futhey, UTU officers on the negotiating team include Assistant President Arty Martin; National Legislative Director James Stem; UTU International Vice Presidents Robert Kerley and Delbert Strunk; and General Chairpersons John Lesniewski (CSX, GO 049), Pate King (NS, GO 680) and Doyle Turner (CSX, GO 347).

Negotiations also continue between the NCCC and two other rail-labor coalitions -- both of which are in the mediation phase.

One coalition includes the Transportation Communications Union, the American Train Dispatchers Association, the International Association of Machinists, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and the Transport Workers Union.

A second coalition also negotiating with the NCCC includes the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes, the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, the Brotherhood of Boilermakers and Blacksmiths, the National Conference of Firemen and Oilers, and the Sheet Metal Workers International Association.

March 30, 2011
>>>
Missouri to apply for reallocated Federal rail money - 3/29/2011

Significant upgrades on existing St. Louis to Kansas City line would immediately cut travel times, create more than 1,300 jobs in the near-term; proposal would also fund longer-term efforts to construct dedicated high-speed rail line.

 

 

Missouri will pursue nearly $1 billion in reallocated federal funding for rail projects, Gov. Nixon announces
KIRKWOOD, Mo. - The state of Missouri will apply for nearly $1 billion in newly available federal railroad funds, Gov. Jay Nixon said today.

 

 

 The application will include a two-phase proposal: immediate upgrades to improve speeds and schedule reliability along existing rail lines between St. Louis and Kansas City; and longer-term design, engineering and preparation for construction of a separate, dedicated high-speed line between the two cities. The immediate upgrades would create more than 1,300 jobs in Missouri over the next few years.

The Governor made the announcement today in suburban St. Louis at the Kirkwood train station, which serves Amtrak customers on the St. Louis to Kansas City line. Gov. Nixon was joined by Missouri Department of Transportation Director Kevin Keith, whose department will submit the application to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Railroad Administration.


If granted, about $373 million of the federal funds would be used in the immediate future for significant improvements and upgrades to rail equipment and infrastructure, and would complement the high-speed rail project already underway in the St. Louis to Chicago corridor. Another $600 million would be used over the longer term to complete necessary planning and design for building the separate, dedicated high-speed line across Missouri, and for purchasing necessary properties.

Gov. Nixon said the newly available funding presents a tremendous opportunity for job creation and greater transportation options in Missouri.

"The design, planning and construction of this project would create high-paying jobs in communities across Missouri over the next several years, and provide the necessary resources to prepare for construction of a dedicated high-speed passenger line," Gov. Nixon said. "It would be a transformative step for Missouri, both in terms of the jobs created and in developing this mode of transportation between our state's two largest metropolitan areas and the cities along the route, including the state capital."


Earlier this month, the federal government announced it would seek state applications for additional high-speed intercity passenger rail program funding that recently became available. States have a deadline of April 4 to apply for the reallocated funds in the competitive process; the funds may be awarded among several applicants.
For the past two years, Gov. Nixon has been working cooperatively with the state of Illinois on pursuing funds for development of the St. Louis to Chicago high-speed rail corridor; in addition, Missouri also has already received $32 million in federal funding for improvements to the St. Louis to Kansas City corridor.

"Today we are laying the groundwork necessary to ensure that Missouri's passenger rail service is a viable, stable transportation option well into the future," Director Keith said. "Transportation is personal and with rising fuel prices, Missourians need and deserve reliable options. This application is a dramatic step forward in ensuring rock-solid, on-time performance; and new, modern and more efficient train equipment for the Missouri River Runner service. This funding would also allow MoDOT to study the feasibility of increasing passenger train speeds on certain sections of this corridor, while also planning for construction of a dedicated high-speed line in the future."

The Missouri application is seeking funding for a variety of immediate projects that will include new sidings, mainlines, bridges, removal of grade crossings, train cars, and other equipment and infrastructure to enable Amtrak trains traveling between St. Louis and Kansas City to travel at greater speeds than they currently do, with greater schedule reliability. Train service also would be enhanced by improvements to the station at Jefferson City. The longer-term planning money would fund preliminary design, engineering and preparation for the building of a true high-speed rail line between the two cities.

"This is an exciting opportunity in terms of both transportation and economic development that we will not let go by," Gov. Nixon said. "We will submit an extremely competitive application and work aggressively to turn these funds into new jobs and economic growth here in Missouri."

During his speech Gov. Nixon also expressed his thanks to the UTU for their participation.

 

 

>>>
Update from MO SLB - 3/24/2011
 
UTU-MO Logo    

UTU-Missouri State Legislative Board

Email-Update - March, 2011

 
UTU-Missouri State Legislative Board
New E-Mail Update System in Place
 
Missouri Capitol
In an effort to keep UTU-MO Local officers current on the happenings
at the state capitol and around Missouri, the Missouri State Legislative Board is instituting a bi-monthly email newletter. Our ultimate goal is to have the entire Missouri membership as part of the e-update system. In the months ahead, UTU-MO's SLB will be working with locals around the state to provide the resources to make this happen.          Look to future updates for additional information. 
UTU-MO with Gov
 Executive Board with Governor Nixon in the Governor's Suite at MU Basketball
   
Recent Missouri Poll on Governor's Race
  

Recent poll numbers show that Governor Nixon has a modest 7 percentage point lead over his likely opponent in next year's Governor race. Future updates will provide information on other statewide races.       Poll on Missouri Governor Race

PAC Drive in 3 Locals
  
UTU-MO is participating in a nationwide PAC drive, that utilitzes direct mail and personal contacts by Legislative Representatives. In a test program back in October, Locals that participated saw on average a 13 percent increase in PAC revenue (a significant increase). In the month of March, Locals 226, 1216 and 1823 are participating. More information in future e-updates. 

 

Find us on Facebook
 
Visit UTU-MO's Website for Complete Information
 
UTU-MO Logo
We are currently in progress of updating and refining our state UTU website. The website will be the place to get complete information on all legislative, PAC and political events that affect UTU members in Missouri. Our web address is simple, mo.utu.org. In addition, we are upgrading our Facebook Page(Mo State Legislative-Board)and looking at other means to communicate to UTU members.
  
If you have any suggestions or comments please call or email.
  
UTU-Missouri State Legislative Board
Kenny Menges, State Director 
  
222-A Madison Avenue
Jefferson City, MO 65101 
573-634-3303
  
>>>
VP Biden warns of 'barbarians at the gate' - 3/21/2011
VP Biden warns of 'barbarians at the gate'

WASHINGTON -- Speaking to labor's rank-and-file via an AFL-CIO electronic town hall meeting last week, Vice President Joe Biden warned of "barbarians at the gate" of working families as attacks on collective bargaining and union membership move forward in numerous state legislatures.

"The only people who have the capacity -- organizational capacity and muscle -- to keep, as they say, the barbarians from the gate, is organized labor," Biden said.

"And make no mistake about it: The guys on the other team get it. They know if they cripple labor, the gate is open, man. The gate is wide open."

Encouraging organized labor to continue the fight against extremists who would destroy labor unions, Biden said, "You built the middle class. We don't see the value of collective bargaining, we see the absolute positive necessity of collective bargaining."

March 21, 2011
>>>
RCO limits, enhanced cab security sought - 3/21/2011
RCO limits, enhanced cab security sought

WASHINGTON -- Federally mandated improvements to locomotive cab security and comfort, along with enforceable remote control operation (RCO) regulations, are being sought by the UTU and the BLET in joint comments filed with the Federal Railroad Administration.

Significantly, the FRA is being asked to ban remote control operation on mainline track.

The two organizations responded to an FRA Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to update, consolidate and clarify existing locomotive safety regulations.

Following are the requests made by the two organizations to the FRA:

Locomotive cab security

A fatal shooting of a conductor, and wounding of the engineer, by a street thug in New Orleans in June 2010 highlight the imperative of enhancing crew member cab security. But sealing the locomotive cab also requires adequate air conditioning and improved window glazing (bullet resistant material).

Extreme heat in the cab can accelerate crew fatigue, slowing reaction time and compromising train safety.

Requested of the FRA is a requirement that all newly purchased and reconstructed locomotives -- as well as locomotives already equipped with air conditioning -- maintain an interior cab climate of between 60 degrees and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

As for window glazing, the two organizations said, "If a glazing is available that can protect operating employees from most of the firearms available to common criminals, then FRA should require the installation of such glazing on the locomotives."

Remote control locomotives

The UTU and the BLET note that the FRA has yet to issue enforceable regulations for the operation of remote control locomotives. It is time to do so, they said, and the regulation should include a prohibition of RCO on mainline track.

"The manufacturers of the remote control locomotive technology in use today designed the software and equipment for switching operations, not mainline movements," the organizations said.

Additionally, the organizations seek a regulation mandating remote control operator units "be as simple in design and uncluttered with any function not necessary for safe operations."

The UTU and the BLET also asked the FRA to develop an improved electronic record-keeping system for employee on-duty hours in remote control service. Under the FRA's current record-keeping, they said, it is difficult to compare accurately the number of employee hours worked in remote control switching versus conventional switching.

"Switching hours must be accurately recorded so that the number of accidents, incidents and fatalities can be compared on an apples-to-apples basis," the UTU and the BLET said.

Improved locomotive seats also are requested. The organizations said railroads continue to scrimp on proper seating on new locomotives without regard for the safety or health of crew members -- an effort to save a mere $220 on a $2.2 million locomotive. Such penny-pinching, said the organizations, is "shamefully inconsistent with providing a safe working environment.

"Improper and unsafe seats have caused many injuries and illnesses to operating crews in the past decades, and now is the time for FRA to accept the scientific facts and offer requirements for specifications of locomotive seats on occupied locomotives," said the UTU and the BLET.

Said UTU International President Mike Futhey: "Safety regulations with real teeth in them are long overdue."

Said BLET National President Dennis Pierce: "BLET and UTU remain united and unwavering in our commitment to the safety and security of our members."

Click here to read the 21-page joint UTU-BLET submission to the FRA.

>>>
Tri-City Port info from Crawley - 3/18/2011

Joint Facilities had advised that Trackage rights agreement with TRRA to service steel  industries at WR Interlocking and access south Tri-City Port industries should be ready next week.
 
Will advise new operating plan.
 
Melvin L. Crawley

>>>
FRA Electronic device use chart - 3/17/2011

Brothers and Sisters,


On March 28, 2011, Part 220 Subpart C – Electronic Devices will become effective. This subpart will nullify and replace the provisions of EO26. On this date all RISPC codes related to Part 220 Subpart C will be automatically turned on and will ready for use. Any non-compliance with the provisions of Subpart C should be documented as a Federal defect/violation as appropriate.  An ROR code (H112) was added to RISPC to allow the recording of non-compliance related to railroad operating rules that go beyond the Federal regulations (see note 2).
 
Attached is a chart which illustrates significant portions of Part 220 Subpart C. This chart has been reviewed and approved for distribution to the rail industry. Feel free to distribute as you see fit.
 
 
Notes:
 
1.       This chart was not designed to address all aspects of Subpart C. Please refer to the appropriate regulatory text for all subsections under Part 220 Subpart C. The regulatory text concerning Part 220 Subpart C can be found in the new teal CFRs. Additionally, the most recent Reg-Trieve update (First quarter 2011) has Subpart C incorporated in Part 220.
 
2.       Subpart C establishes the minimum federal requirements for the use of electronic devices. Railroads may establish more stringent requirements and employees are to comply with those requirements accordingly.  
 
Please let me know if you have any questions.
 
 
 
James Stem 
National Legislative Director
United Transportation Union

FRA Use of Electronic Devices chart

 

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Information update from State Director Menges - 3/17/2011

Brothers and Sisters,
 
The legislature is now on Spring break so we have a week to get geared up for the final budget push. The right to work issue is on the back burner for now.  The Senate has placed it back on the informal calendar where it can be brought up at any time but we have been told that it may be brought up again but that a vote will not happen and the bill will die!  We just have to keep on top of it. 
 
Attached is the AFL-CIO critical, priority and watch lists. There is only one more week to get bills introduced and we are still trying to get a republican to introduce a van safety bill in the House.  We have one in the Senate but it is not moving.
 
Over Spring break we will work on producing our first electronic newsletter--the first one will probably go out to all the officers and then as we get our legs we will expand.  We are also working to get our facebook page up to full speed as well as begin experimenting with Twitter---I don't know if I can get that tech savvy in a week but we will see.
 
We are also beginning the 2012 election cycle with request for donations already coming in.  With all the recent attack on workers I encourage you to take a look at UTU PAC If you are not donating I ask that you consider helping us elect legislators that respect and share our values and goals.  We have seen in the past few weeks how elections affect each and every one of us.  Politics are Local!!
 
Thanks for your time and support.
 
Ken Menges
Missouri State Legislative Director

AFL-CIO bill lists

Critical

Priority

Watch


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Radiological information - 3/16/2011

Here is some importation Radiation information,

Currently, there is great interest in the Japanese nuclear power plant incidents. This story is the lead story for most news outlets, so I will not try to give you a replay on the incident. Tokyo, Japan is waiting to see whether any radiological contamination makes it to the city. Here is a link to a rad counter placed somewhere in the dense metropolis. You can visit the link from time-to-time and see if the radiation level is increasing. For reference, at 1245 PST on 03/15/2011, it was 17.63 CPM. The link is: www.ustream.tv/channel/geiger-counter-tokyo
                                                                       Hat tip to Carl F. Chicago, IL

 
What would happen if you awoke one morning and noticed a large quantity of radiological materials in box cars sitting on rail sidings? What if you found out the radiological materials were part of a lawsuit and would not be moving until the lawsuit was settled? How long might that process take? Months or years? What kind of response plans do you have in place to cover incidents at a facility with this problem? Where could you go for planning help? Here's a story about a community this happened to: http://www.newwest.net/topic/article/iron_man_activists_fights_nuclear_waste_shipments_in_southern_colorado/C618/L618/ If you don't have radiation responses covered in your community emergency plan, here's where you may find  templates and help with planning problems: http://www.em.doe.gov/TEPPPages/TEPPTools.aspx
                                                                        Hat tip: Carl F, Chicago, IL
 
What would you do if you received a call from the health department asking for assistance in tracking and locating an animal internally contaminated with radioactive materials? What if the only clue you had to work with was radiologically contaminated scat (that's animal poo for you city dwellers)? This is somewhat common problem at DOE sites around the country. Contaminated burrowing animals (rabbits, badgers, ground wasps) may move off-site into the community. Here's a story: http://wireupdate.com/wires/12052/radioactive-rabbit-trapped-and-killed-at-hanford-nuclear-reservation/ NOTE: scroll down to read the entire story. Ads take up some space below the first paragraph.
                                                                       Hat tip: Michael T. Charlotte, NC
 
Please stay safe. Wear your PPE. Develop an emergency plan for you and your family!

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Right to work bill to be brought up 3-14-11 - 3/10/2011

This bill has officially been tabled until after spring Break. Rumors are that it will most likely be left that way for the remainder of this years session. Thank You for your assistance in making this happen through your contacts to your State Senators.

Brothers and Sisters,

SB1--right to work---will be brought up on the Missouri Senate floor at 4 pm on Monday.  The AFL-CIO ask that we gather our members in Capitol Rotunda--3rd floor.

If you are available please come and support our brothers and sisters.  This is a fight that concerns all of us as the leadership is attacking all unions as they see the unions as the only roadblock in their plans to demolish the middle class.

Come join us as we tell our story!!!

See YOU Monday

Ken Menges

>>>
UTU first-aid kit bill reported out of House committee - 3/9/2011

New legislation in Illinois

 

UTU legislation that would require first aid kits on "contract carrier" vehicles has advanced out of committee and is heading to the Illinois House Floor for a full vote, as early as March 10.  Details on how you can contact your State Representative to ask for their support can be found in the following Hot Topics article, please read:  United Transportation Union

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Money rains to UNSEAT union-busting lawmakers - 3/8/2011
Money rains to unseat union-busting lawmakers

As right-wing extremist lawmakers in Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin continue their drive to push through anti-union legislation, a status-quo remains this week.

But what is moving forward is a public revolt against the union busters.

Almost $1 million in political donations from across the United States have been made to campaigns to unseat the extremists in Wisconsin -- $435,000 to MoveOn.org, and $530,000 to "Stop the Republican War on Working Families."

And in Ohio,where House Minority Leader Armond Budish, a Democrat, launched a fund-raising campaign to unseat the extremists there -- "$5 Against SB 5" (the union-busting measure that passed the Ohio Senate last week) -- more than $5,000 was donated in just a few hours after the launch. The Ohio House is preparing to hold hearings on SB 5.

Rather than engage in meaningful dialogue with Wisconsin Senate Democrats over legislation to revoke collective bargaining rights there, The New York Times reports that Senate Republican leader Scott Fitzgerald reverted to name calling, saying trying to negotiate with the Democrats is like "negotiating with Jell-O."

Fitzgerald also questioned the Democrats' "grasp of reality." Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is reported to have said a request by Senate Democrats to hold discussions is "ridiculous."

As a result, reports The New York Times, "little progress toward compromise has emerged" in Wisconsin.

In Indiana, most of the state's House Democrats remain out of state to block union-busting legislation. "We will stay out as long as it takes," said Democratic Rep. Terry Goodin, according to the Indianapolis Star. "The principles we are fighting for here are the very principles that our party is founded upon: Working families, public schools and Hoosier children."

The UTU is coordinating with the AFL-CIO for what is described as "a major rally" of labor leaders, rank and file union members and concerned citizens. More information will be posted at www.utu.org as plans develop.

March 8, 2011
>>>
Labor rally to Protect the Middle Class - 3/8/2011

It's Time To Protect The Middle Class!

We’re tired of politicians playing the same old political games. After every election, they care more about punishing their opponents than solving the problems facing working families.

Politicians and their CEO donors are attacking anyone who stands in their way. They want more power and bigger profits, even if it hurts the middle class.

Working through our union, we can protect middle-class families and give workers the ability to speak out for good jobs, better wages, good benefits and safer workplaces. It’s time to stop the power struggle, restore the balance and focus on creating decent jobs in America.

READY TO TURN THINGS AROUND?

Learn More and Join Us.

WHAT: Rally Against Corporate Greed

WHEN: Friday, March 11th at 4:00 pm

WHERE: Kiener Plaza Downtown St. Louis MO

Look in this week's Labor Tribune!

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American Water trying to Gut Union Contract - 3/6/2011

Wants to outsource and eliminate jobs, reduce benefits for Utility Workers 355.   St. Louis County – The largest water company in America with over $2 billion in revenue and profitable enough to pay five top executives $7.5 million, has decided to step on one of the smallest local unions in the region, simply because it can. Click here for whole story.

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Request to contact your US Representative - 3/2/2011

Please follow the link to the UTU Missouri state page and follow the links to the contact info for the Missouri US Reps.

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Is your Career at risk for medical reasons? - 2/22/2011

Dear Railroaders,     

         It is undisputed that the railroad has a right to establish reasonable medical standards for each group of employees.  In fact, every employer has the right to establish reasonable medical standards for its employees.  It is also undisputed that the railroad has a right to know that every employee meets its medical standard both physically and mentally.  Should a question arise regarding one’s physical or mental condition, the railroad has a right to demand that an employee produce proof that he/she is in compliance with its medical standards.
 
          The fight is always about: (1) what is a reasonable standard; and (2) is the employee in compliance with the standard.  In years past, the railroad was in complete control of setting the standard.  For example, in years past a “reasonable medical standard” included a provision that prohibited a locomotive engineer who had high blood pressure, or a prior heart attack from operating a train in main line freight service.  The second issue was a fight between the doctors.  For example, the company doctor might say one’s back condition prevented him/her from lifting over 50 pounds while the treating physician might opine otherwise.
 
          Thus, one’s medical condition has and continues to be a great concern for a railroad worker, especially as one gets older.  Often employees live in fear because of a medical condition that if known by the railroad could result in removal from service.  For example an engineer with high blood pressure or a conductor with diabetes may worry that his/her long term career will end prematurely if the railroad finds out about the condition.   So they pay for the visits to the doctor out of pocket and they tell their spouse not to say a word to any co-workers about the condition for fear of dismissal. 
 
          Today, those fears are somewhat misplaced due to the passage of the American’s with Disability Act of 1991.  This Federal Law and other similar state laws now prevent the railroad from bad ordering an employee from work so long as their condition[1] does not prevent them from performing the essential functions of their job.  Further, the railroad is required to set forth the essential functions of each job in a job description, so that one knows exactly what he/she must be able to do. For example, an essential job function for a main line engineer is to be able to operate a train from the home to away from home terminal and return.  One with high blood pressure probably has a disability and thus covered by the act.  As long as he is able to operate the train, albeit with high blood pressure, it would be unlawful for the railroad to restrict him/her from the main line.
 
          Medical issues on the railroad have become increasing complicated.  Federal regulations now require that engineers have 20/40 vision, the ability to distinguish the primary colors and 70 degrees of peripheral vision.[2]   Similar provisions will soon be a reality for conductors[3] and the Federal Railroad Administration has proposed other physical standards for engineers and conductors.  In an effort to simply some of these issues I have prepared the following questions and answers.
 
Q. My doctor released me as a conductor for full duty with a 50 pound lifting restriction.  Will the restriction prevent me from returning to work?
A.    No.  Lifting more than 50 pounds is not an essential function of the job of a conductor.  The major railroad’s job description state that lifting 50 pounds or more is required only “occasionally” and thus it is not an “essential” job function.
 
Q. My doctor released me for duty as a conductor, but the release states that I cannot walk on uneven surfaces.  Will the restriction prevent me from returning to work as a conductor?
A.    Yes.  Walking on ballast, which is an uneven surface, is an essential function of the job of a conductor and thus, the restriction would prevent returning to work as a conductor.
 
Q. I had knee replacement surgery and I now walk with a slight limp, but my doctor has given me a full release without restrictions.  Will the limp prevent me from returning to work as a conductor?
A.    No.  The ADA prohibits the railroad from discriminating and/or refusing to allow one to return to work because of a disability or a perceived disability.[4]  Thus, even if the person did not have a disability due to the knee replacement, a refusal to allow the person to return to work based on the perception of a disability, i.e. the limp would be unlawful.
 
Q. I am diabetic, but my diabetic condition is fully controlled by taking insulin on a daily basis.  Could the railroad bad order me simply because I am diabetic and taking insulin?
A.    No.  A person whose physical or mental impairment is corrected by medication or other measures does not have an impairment that presently ‘substantially limits' a major life activity and thus, the person does not have a disability under the ADA.  However, the issue of the perception of a disability again arises to provide protection.  Even though the employee may not have a protected disability, refusing to allow the person to work, who can perform all of the essential function of the job just because the person is diabetic and taking insulin would be discriminatory based on “perception” and thus unlawful. 
 
Q. Can the railroad pull me out of service and have me examined by a doctor of its choosing if a coworker complains that I have a limp that affects my work or that I am really forgetful?
A.    Yes.  The railroad always has a right to know that an employee is physically and/or mentally fit to perform the job.  Thus, if one’s physical or mental condition becomes an issue due to a co-worker complaint or from any other source; the railroad has a right to have the employee examined by a doctor of its choosing.[5]
 
Q. What recourse do I have if the railroad pulls me out of service for a physical condition, has me examined and the company doctor says I cannot work because of the condition?
A.    First, one should see a doctor of their choosing to see if the doctor agrees with the opinion of the company doctor.  If your doctor agrees with the company doctor there is little that can be done at that point. If your doctor disagrees there are a couple of options:
a.     A claim for reinstatement and/or a request for a three doctor panel pursuant to the terms of the labor agreement can be made.  Most labor agreements have a provision providing for the establishment of a three doctor panel when there is a dispute between the company doctor and the employee’s personal doctor.  Typically the agreements provide that the company doctor and the employee’s doctor select a third doctor whose decision in the matter is final and binding.[6]
b.     Secondly, the person could file an ADA claim.  In order to file an ADA claim the person must first file a claim for disability discrimination with the EEOC within 300 days of the discriminatory act.  At some point thereafter the EEOC will probably issue a “right to sue” letter at which point the employee must file the actual lawsuit within 90 days.  If successful the employee could get his job back with backpay.
 
Q. The railroad recently wrote me a letter advising it has serious concerns regarding my ability to safely perform my job duties due to the fact that I have ADD.  The railroad demands that I send them a copy of ALL of my medical records regarding my ADD condition.  Do I have to send them the records?
A.    Of course.  The railroad has a right to know that an employee is physically and mentally fit to do his or her work.  However, the burden to prove one’s has this ability is that of the employee.  Thus, if this railroad demands records of treatment to establish that the person is safe to do his/her work, the employee must get them.
 
Q. Under the circumstances of question 7 above, is the employee required to sign a medical release so that the railroad can obtain the medical records of treatment?
A.    No.  The employee is not required to sign a medical release.  However, the employee must still provide the railroad with a copy of the records.
 
Q. I have been an engineer for 25 years, but I recently lost the vision in my right eye due to glaucoma.  I have 20/20 uncorrected vision in my left eye.  Can the railroad prevent me from working as an engineer?
A.    Yes.   One must have 20/40 vision in both eyes and have a field of vision in the horizontal meridian of 70 degrees in order to be a locomotive engineer as mandated by the engineer certification standards.  However, the medical director of the railroad could override this requirement if he/she thought the engineer could safely do the job.[7]
 
Q. Does a substance abuse problem qualify as a disability under the ADA?
A.    No.  A substance abuse problem does not qualify as a disability under the act.  Therefore one could not use the act to defend discipline for using drugs or alcohol.
 
Q. Is sleep apnea considered a disability under the ADA?
A disability under the ADA a disability is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of an individual, a record of such impairment, or being regarded as having such an impairment.  A determination of a disability under the ADA is an individualized inquiry.[8]  However, the ADA would not be helpful, because staying awake at work is an essential function of the job.  Generally the ADA provides that an employer cannot discriminate against an employee who has a disability, so long as they can perform the essential functions of the job.  However, if the employee could not stay awake he/she cannot perform the essential functions.
 
A. I have sleep apnea, but my problem is controlled with a CPAP machine.  Could the railroad prevent me from working because I have sleep apnea and I use a CPAP machine?
A.    Probably not.  So long as the person can stay awake at work and safely perform his duties, it would discriminatory to prevent the employee from working. 
 
Q. May an employee take a non-narcotic prescription drug and work at the railroad in a safety sensitive position such as a conductor or engineer?
A.    Yes.  One may take prescription drugs and work at the railroad.  The issue is whether the employee can safely perform his/her work and take the medication.  However, many employees take a variety of pain and other medications and safely do their work.  GCOR rules do require one that is taking medication due to an injury to report the use of the medication to a manager.[9]
 
Q. May one take a prescribed narcotic drug and work at the railroad?
A.    Yes.  One may take a prescribed narcotic drug and work at the railroad in a safety sensitive position so long as the drug does not affect the ability of the employee to work safely.  In order to work, the employee’s doctor or the medical director must approve the use of the drug while working.[10]
 
Q. I worked as a hostler for ten years before going into engine service.  After promotion to engineer, I failed a color perception test and the railroad will not let me work.  What options do I have?
A.    The certification requirements for a locomotive engineer mandate the person be able to distinguish the primary colors.  Many individuals are color deficient and can thus see only portions of the reds, greens and yellows.  Regardless the individual must be able to distinguish the primary colors to work as an engineer.  One could potentially use chromatic lenses which help clear up the colors in good lighting, but the railroads have severely resisted the use of chromatic lenses, even though some arbitrators have sanctioned their use.[11]  However, one cannot use chromatic lenses to initially take the color perception test to become an engineer.[12]
 
Q. If injured at work, what medical rights does the injured worker have?
A.     There are many:
a.     A railroad carrier may not deny, delay, or INTERFERE with the medical or first aid treatment of an employee who is injured during the course and scope of his employment.[13]   This is a new Federal law that became effective in 2008 and is commonly referred to as a “whistleblower” provision.

  
         i.     This clearly means an injured worker can see doctor of his/her choosing without interference from the railroad.  
         ii.     It also means that the railroad cannot force an employee to see a company doctor.  
         iii.     Further, the railroad may not interfere with the treatment plan prescribed by the employee’s treating doctor or the restrictions recommended by the treating doctor.
b.     If transportation to a hospital is requested by an employee who is injured during the course and scope of employment, the railroad shall PROMPTLY arrange to have the injured employee transported to the NEAREST hospital where the employee can receive safe and appropriate medical care.[14]
                                                              i.     This is a new Federal law that went into effect in 2008.  It was designed to prevent a railroad from taking an injured employee to a “contract” emergency room or to a doc in the box.
                                                             ii.     A railroad worker does not have to ask for transportation to a medical provider, nor accept transportation if offered from the railroad.[15]  However, if under the new law cited above, he/she asks for transportation to a hospital, the railroad shall promptly arrange to transport them to the nearest hospital where they can receive safe and appropriate medical care.
c.     A railroad carrier may not discipline or threaten discipline for requesting medical or first aid treatment.[16] 
                                                              i.     This is also a new Federal law that went into effect in 2008. 
 
Steve Young
Designated Legal Counsel
1300 Post Oak Blvd. Ste. 1750
Houston, Texas 77056
888 565 7245

>>>
UTU proud to join Congressman - 2/21/2011

UTU proud to join Congressman Dan Lipinski at U.S. House T&I Committee “Listening Session”
[02/20/2011]

WEST CHICAGO, Ill. (Feb. 20)—UTU Illinois Legislative Director Robert W. Guy was an invited guest and joined with other labor groups, regional elected officials and economic-development leaders here today in urging the U.S. House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee to make sure the budgets for CREATE, Amtrak and other critically important national rail projects remain in the next U.S. transportation bill.

The small gathering of stakeholders was selected to receive a transportation briefing from U.S. Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.) prior to a field hearing at the DuPage County Airport held by House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chmn. John Mica (R-Fla.). Lipinski is a member of the powerful T&I Committee.

Mica, along with the rest of the new GOP majority in the House, voted to slash $74 billion from the 2011 budget for discretionary programs including transportation—17 per cent below the 2010 appropriation.

The vote, which unfortunately ran along rigid party lines and was opposed by all House Democrats, is not expected to be affirmed by the Democratic-controlled Senate. Even if the Senate were to accept the cuts, Washington insiders say, Pres. Obama would veto them when the bill came to his desk.

“Even though the full menu of House budget cuts is unlikely to survive the legislative process, we wanted to help Cong. Lipinski bring our message to the new chairman loud and clear,” Guy said: “'Hands off the rail budgets.' UTU’s official submitted comments reflected our opinion that Amtrak, CREATE and the president’s high-speed rail projects are simply too critical to job creation and economic expansion to be sacrificed for budgetary reasons.”

Guy explained that unlike some federal programs, the rail projects have the potential to drive immediate and long-term growth and job creation into the U.S. economy.

“We have learned over the last few years that highways and airports alone cannot drive economic expansion fast enough to create new jobs,” he said. “Highways and airports are old technologies that have reached the end of their productivity curve: They can add only marginal new growth to the economy.

“Rail, by contrast, has emerged as something close to a new technology,” Guy said. “It’s undergoing a second life in which it adds exponential economic value to other forms of human activity, such as travel, tourism, manufacturing, and shipping.

“Passenger trains can go over 200 miles per hour now,” Guy said. “That’s three or four times faster than cars and competitive with jet airliners on routes of less than 500 miles.”

Guy said that historically, any new transportation technology that materially reduces travel time is followed by economic development at all locations where travelers enter and leave the system.

“New housing, office and retail developments open around railroad stations the same way they used to open around Interstate ramps and airports,” Guy said.

“Highway and aviation technologies are growing tired and approaching the top of their productivity curves. In less than a decade it is predicted that 90 percent of urban Interstate highways will be at or exceeding capacity. They have lost the power to fuel exponential growth, while passenger trains have recovered it.

"If this county wants to return to the kind of economic growth we got from the Interstates during the 1960s and from the airports in the '70s and '80s, we're going to have to build a modern passenger-train system," he said.

Guy said rail freight transportation is racking up similar productivity gains that trucks no longer can achieve.

“Freight now can cross the country in five days by rail using only one twenty-fifth as much fuel per ton as when it’s shipped by truck,” he said. “That’s why the CREATE improvements in Chicago are so important: They can cut up to a day off the coast-to-coast timetable, save millions of gallons of fuel and tons of pollution every year and make rail transportation attractive to thousands of shippers who aren’t using it yet.”

Guy said engineers have estimated that it would take 16 highway lanes to carry the same number of passengers per hour as two railroad tracks protected by modern signaling. He said if Amtrak did not connect the mainland with Manhattan Island, it would take 20 additional highway lanes, 10 new tunnels under the Hudson and hundreds of acres of new parking to move the same number of people into New York City every day.

“Those of us who live with railroad technology every day sometimes fail to appreciate just how efficient it’s becoming compared to the other modes,” he said. “We have to be ‘evangelists’ who get out and tell people the ‘good news:’ Rail development is the key to a more prosperous America. That’s the message we sent today.”

>>>
We stand with public employees - 2/21/2011
We stand in solidarity with public employees

By UTU International President Mike Futhey

The right of workers to join a labor union and bargain collectively with employers over wages, benefits and working conditions is the foundation of workplace democracy.

Brave and dedicated trade unionists before us risked their lives, freedom and economic security fighting for collective bargaining rights, achieving victory first in 1926 with passage of the Railway Labor Act, and then the National Labor Relations Act in 1935.

For public-sector workers, the struggle took longer. Wisconsin was the first state to grant its workforce a right of collective bargaining in 1959. Federal workers gained a collective bargaining right in 1962.

It is ironic that Wisconsin was the first state to sanction public-employee collective bargaining because it is Wisconsin's governor who this month invited massive civil unrest in his state by attempting to revoke that right. 

Similar legislative efforts are underway in Ohio and Tennessee, and the movement to curtail public-employee collective bargaining rights could spread.

If the effort is successful, private-sector workers could then find their own collective-bargaining rights under attack. We are witnessing in Congress and in many state legislatures an anti-union animus stronger than it has been in decades.

To close our eyes to the struggle of state workers in Wisconsin, Ohio or elsewhere is to wake up finding our own collective bargaining rights gone.

That is why union members from across America -- many from the United Transportation Union -- have been participating in rallies, telephone and e-mail communications efforts, petition drives and other activities in support of public employees whose collective bargaining rights are under attack.

Wisconsin State Legislative Director Tim Deneen and Ohio State Legislative Director Glenn Newsom are coordinating joint action with the targeted public-employee unions.

As a member of the AFL-CIO Executive Committee, I am working with the federation's Transportation Trades Department to identify additional actions that might be taken to assist in fighting state attempts to restrict or eliminate public-employee collective bargaining.

The outrage is not that public employees must participate -- with all segments of society -- to close massive budget shortfalls.

The outrage is that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker wants to revoke the right of public employees to bargain over healthcare, pensions and working conditions, plus Scott wants to impose significant costs on workers and their unions by requiring annual representational elections and cancelling the state's collection of union dues through payroll deduction.

This is all about union busting and not about closing budget shortfalls.

In fact, Christopher Policano, an official with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said the union is willing to negotiate concessions with Gov. Walker, "but he wants to throw out the bargaining table."

Wisconsin is not the only state with a big budget deficit. By contrast, in California, Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania, governors are collectively bargaining with state employees to find the least painful alternatives to balance state budgets.

In Pennsylvania, a spokesperson for Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican, told The New York Times, "We'll begin negotiations with the public-sector unions and anticipate we'll conduct those in good faith."

Many UTU members have inquired how they might join in solidarity with public employees under siege.

Begin with an AFL-CIO sponsored website, "States of Denial," which provides opportunities for different levels of involvement. Click below to link to the "States of Denial" website:

www.aflcio.org/issues/states/

Click on the following link to see how you might help in Ohio:

www.utu.org/worksite/detail_news.cfm?ArticleID=53896

And certainly consider joining, or increasing your contribution to, the UTU PAC, which works to elect union-friendly lawmakers to state legislatures and Congress.

February 21, 2011
>>>
Switching accident results in death - 2/9/2011
BLET member dead; UTU member critical

A BLET member working a conductor assignment on Norfolk Southern was killed in a conventional shoving movement accident in Kankakee, Ill., Feb. 8; and a UTU member conductor is hospitalized in critical condition following a fall from a bridge into a frigid river in Covington, Va., Feb. 8 while working a switching move on CSX.

A fellow UTU member is being hailed a hero in saving the UTU conductor's life.

Killed in the Kankakee accident was BLET member and engineer Stanley Watts, age 43, with five-years seniority, who was working a conductor job as part of a three-person switch crew at a flat yard. Remote control was not involved.

A preliminary Federal Railroad Administration report said Watts was "crushed" between a car he was riding and another car. Kankakee is some 60 miles south of Chicago.

In Covington, Va., about 60 miles northwest of Roanoke, UTU Local 623 member Alvin Boguess, age 24, fell some 50 feet from a CSX bridge into the Jackson River while part of a three-person crew switching cars into a Westvaco paper mill around 7 p.m. Feb. 8. Remote control was not involved.

According to reports, the train's switchman and UTU Local 623 member Dale Smith, age 48, scrambled down an embankment and into the frigid water, risking his own life, to rescue Boguess, who was face down in the river. Smith is being treated for hypothermia, and Boguess was airlifted to a Roanoke hospital, where his condition is reported as critical.

Boguess signed on with CSX in December 2008, while Smith signed on in November 2008.

>>>
ADDRESS changed? Notify the UTU - 2/9/2011
Address changed? Notifiy the UTU

Have you moved, or has a co-worker moved?

The UTU International and the United Transportation Union Insurance Association receive back from the postal service each month numerous pieces of mail indicating the address no longer is valid.

Address changes may be made on line by clicking on the following link:

https://webapps.utu.org/addressupdate/AddressChangeRequest.aspx

For members without web access, a change of address may be sent by mail to:

United Transportation Union
Suite 340
24950 Country Club Blvd.
North Olmsted, OH 44070-5333

An address change also may be called in to the UTU at (216) 228-9400.

All address changes will be made on both UTU and UTUIA records.

February 9, 2011
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GCA-687 Newsletter - 1/31/2011

Below is a link to a newsletter put out by our new General Chairman Jason Boswell of GCA-687.

http://www.utugca687.org/sites/default/files/UTU%20GO-687%20Newsletter%20Vol.%201,%20Issue%201.pdf

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Additional info about the disability payments - 1/30/2011
Receiving disability payments?

Members who received disability-claim payments from Anthem or Lincoln in 2010 will be receiving IRS W-2 forms from those insurers.

This does not mean that the benefits are taxable. It is merely a reporting requirement of the IRS.

The payments will be listed in Box 12 with a "J" and the amount received. This notifies the IRS that the disability income is non-taxable.

January 31, 2011
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2011 Paid Holidays - 1/29/2011

The 2011 paid holidays are:

 

* New Year’s Day, Saturday, Jan. 1

 

* President’s Day, Monday, Feb. 21

 

* Good Friday, Friday, April 22

 

* Memorial Day, Monday, May 30

 

* Independence Day, Monday, July 4

 

* Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 5

 

* Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 24

 

* Day after Thanksgiving, Friday, Nov. 25

 

* Christmas Eve, paid holiday observed Sunday, Dec. 25

 

* Christmas Day, paid holiday observed Monday, Dec. 26

 

* New Year’s Eve, paid holiday observed Sunday, Jan. 1, 2012.

>>>
Anthem and Lincoln W2 Forms - 1/29/2011

Members that received disability claim payments in 2010 will be receiving W2 forms from their carrier.  This does not mean that their benefits were taxable - this is merely a reporting requirement of the IRS.  Please read the message below to understand the meaning of the W2.
 
Even if a claimant’s disability benefits are non-taxable, the claimants will receive W2s.  However, the payments should be listed in box 12 with a J and the amount entered.   Our members have called indicating they should not have received W2s because the benefits were non-taxable.    However if the disability amounts are entered in box 12 with a J; that is the correct designation for our benefit plans since disability amounts entered in this box notifies the IRS that the third party sick income is non-taxable.  As such, the member would not claim the payments as income for tax reporting purposes.
 
 
 
Director of Insurance
UTU Insurance Association

>>>
FRA urges improvements in crossing safety - 1/11/2011
FRA urging states to improve crossing safety

WASHINGTON -- With 220,000 public and private highway-rail grade-crossings in the United States, train and engine workers are no strangers to dare-devil drivers attempting to beat the train.

Through the first nine months of 2010, there were more than 1,300 train-vehicle collisions at highway-rail grade-crossings, resulting in 196 fatalities.

Too often ignored is the emotional impact such accidents have on train and engine workers powerless to stop the train in time. Train and engine workers have a most unfortunate front-row seat to view the unavoidable accident.

Frequently, untrimmed vegetation at highway-rail grade-crossings -- those without gates or barriers -- restricts visibility.

The Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (RISA) instructed the Federal Railroad Administration, in conjunction with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), to draft model legislation for state governments, which would require removing sight obstructions, including vegetation growth, structures and standing railroad equipment.

Congress, the FRA and the FHWA are urging the 29 states currently without laws or regulations applying to vegetation removal at highway-rail grade-crossings to adopt the model legislation -- and states with existing laws and regulations to consider amendments along the lines of the model legislation.

This model legislation provides for:

* Establishment of a statewide program for the periodic inspection and evaluation of sight distances at passive highway-rail grade-crossings.

* Specific actions to eliminate sight distance obstructions within close proximity to passive highway-rail grade-crossings.

* Imposition of civil penalties against railroads and other private property owners that fail to comply with an order to remove or otherwise mitigate the sight distance obstruction.

To view the model legislation, click on the following link:

www.fra.dot.gov/downloads/safety/ModelStateLawText.pdf

January 11, 2011
>>>
New Business - 12/10/2010

Beginning next year we are supposed to be picking up the port district work that the TRRA currently handles. As this seems to be great news for us do beware that there has been no release of information on the business we will be losing durring this.

>>>
Supreme Court to hear attack on FELA - 12/6/2010
Supreme Court to hear attack on FELA

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court will hear an argument by CSX in 2011 challenging standards for rail workers bringing lawsuits under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA), reports Bloomberg.

The decision could affect future FELA cases.

The specific case to be heard, reports Bloomberg, involves a CSX engineer who won a $184,250 FELA award for a hand injury suffered while on duty.

Said Bloomberg, "The case centers on the test for determining whether a railroad’s negligence was the cause of an employee’s injury."

The federal judge hearing that case, reports Bloomberg, told the jury "that the railroad was responsible for negligence if its negligence 'played a part -- no matter how small -- in bringing about the injury.'"

CSX, according to Bloomberg, contends that injured rail workers should meet a more demanding standard, as is required in other types of personal-injury lawsuits not covered by the FELA, which applies only to railroads and their workers.

The more demanding standard would require the employer’s action to be the "primary cause" of the injury, known as "proximate cause" in legal jargon.

December 6, 2010
>>>
FRA to fine TRRA after UTU complaint - 12/3/2010

Acting on UTU complaint, FRA to fine TRRA for failing to track employee injuries
[12/03/2010]

CHICAGO (Dec. 2)—The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has told the UTU’s national legislative director in Washington that it plans to fine the Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis (TRRA) for failure to inform the FRA about a reportable injury, under-reporting the number of days lost by an injured employee, and failing to maintain complete and timely records of injuries to three other employees.

In a letter to National Legislative Director James Stem, FRA Chief Safety Officer Jo Strang said her staff recommended to the agency’s chief legal counsel that TRRA be fined for the offenses.

Strang said TRRA was found to be in violation of Section 225.11 of Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) in two cases—failure to report a March 18, 2009, injury sustained by employee Kristopher Cook; and failure to report the number of work days missed by Jeremy McFarland after an injury sustained Sept. 9, 2009.

“TRRA reported that he had 5 days away from work, and our investigation determined that he was off work for 39 days,” Strang wrote.

Strang said FRA also found three workplace-injury cases in which TRRA failed to comply with 49 CFR Paragraph 225.33 (a) (1), which requires “complete and accurate reporting of all accidents, injuries and occupational illnesses.”

FRA investigators found TRRA had kept incomplete records or had failed to report injuries suffered by Brad Stater on December 12, 2006; Daniel Hudzik on December 8, 2008; and Brian Carlson on December 11, 2008.

“These latest findings from the FRA confirm a disturbing trend that began to emerge more than a year ago,” said UTU Illinois Legislative Director Robert W. Guy. “They suggest a deteriorating safety atmosphere at the TRRA. The railroad has now been cited for safety violations four times within a year, including this latest citation for five separate violations.”

Guy noted that as recently as last June the TRRA was cited by the safety agency for holding an employee for drug and alcohol testing after a low-speed, one-axle switching derailment that resulted in no damage.

“That incident has seemingly become the norm,” Guy said. “Our members feel that TRRA’s safety attitude swings two ways: There is an excessive focus on minor incidents along with an effort to hinder the reporting of more serious incidents that might result in injury. Management exploits the minor incidents for their employee-discipline potential while suppressing more serious ones in order to manage costs.”

Guy said TRRA may also be massaging its injury statistics in order to enhance its reputation.

“From 1998 through 2008, TRRA won the E.H. Harriman Memorial Medal Safety Award in the Switching & Terminal category in every year except 2006,” he said. “Last year they did not. You have to wonder whether the recent under-reporting of injuries might have been part of a strategy to attempt to get the medal back.”

Guy advised TRRA employees to stay alert for safety hazards and to report to the local immediately any effort by TRRA management to subvert the operating rules or FRA-mandated safety practices.

“The key is to report what you see to your local and let the Illinois Legislative Board follow up with the appropriate enforcement agencies,” Guy said. “Do not be insubordinate or refuse to carry out orders.

“Once you have carried out your orders, however, do your best to remember the time, date and location of any unsafe practices that you witnessed or participated in, and be sure to provide the local with the name of the supervisor who directed you to work in an unsafe manner or permitted a violation of the federal reporting laws. The union will take it from there, and as the FRA’s latest letter proves, when our members act, the union gets results.

“There is a problem with the safety culture at the TRRA, but we have the tools to deal with it,” Guy said: “Member activism plus union professionalism will get the job done.”

But Guy said federal enforcement, while effective, is not the final answer to careless railroad management. The only enduring solution, he said, is a “bottom-up” collaboration between employees and management of the type that once existed between the TRRA and its employees represented by the UTU.

“In the light of these latest findings by the FRA, it is my sincere hope that the TRRA and the UTU can move forward to repair an environment on the property that has damaged a once-productive labor-management working relationship,” Guy said. “I would welcome any outreach from TRRA management that would enable us to sit down together--along with the FRA--to determine the best path forward on how to repair this fractured relationship.”

Guy said the UTU prides itself on being able to protect its members’ health and well-being through the regulatory process, but ultimately the union’s effectiveness is measured by its ability to work one-on-one with the carriers without “bringing in the heat.”

“We would much rather handle issues quietly, at a local level, than to have to continually bring in state or federal officials to address more formal complaints,” he said.

“Here’s hoping that we can accomplish that on this specific property.”

>>>
Last Chance to Enroll dependent children!! - 11/28/2010
Last chance to enroll dependent children

An agreement was reached with the carriers' National Railway Labor Conference to extend until Dec. 31, 2010, the deadline for enrolling eligible dependent children for coverage under the NRC/UTU Health and Welfare Plan or the Railroad Employees National Health and Welfare Plan.

To obtain the enrollment packet or to obtain an enrollment form, call United Healthcare's Railroad Enrollment Service toll free at (800) 753-2692

This form MUST BE COMPLETED AND RETURNED to the Railroad Enrollment Service with a postmark NO LATER THAN DEC. 31 to have your eligible dependent children covered for medical benefits after Jan. 1, 2011.

This will be the final opportunity to enroll you children. There will be NO FURTHER EXTENSIONS of the deadline. 

Note that you will not be able to change your medical benefit plan administrator at this time.  This extension is only to enroll eligible dependent children for coverage under the NRC/UTU Health and Welfare Plan or the National Railroad Employees Health and Welfare Plan.

One of the jewels of the Obama administration's healthcare reform allows dependent children -- even those employed, so long as they are not offered insurance by their own employer -- to remain on a parent's health care insurance plan until age 26, without regard to student, marital, residence or financial dependent status. To claim the benefit, eligible dependent children must be enrolled.

Again, to obtain the enrollment packet, or to obtain a form to complete and return -- POSTMARKED NO LATER THAN DEC. 31, 2010 -- call United Healthcare's Railroad Enrollment Service toll free at (800) 753-2692.

November 29, 2010
>>>
Holiday Season is Deadly Season - 11/27/2010
Holiday season is also the 'deadly season'

We need your attention.

Because your family needs you for the holidays.

Because your family needs you for the new year.

Because your family wants you home tomorrow and the next day, and the day after that -- alive and with all four of your limbs, your two hands and two feet, all 10 of your fingers and all 10 of your toes.

So do we have your attention?

Wrong.

It's not here we want your attention. It's on the job -- every minute of every hour.

We want you focused.

We want you to be aware of every situation.

We want you to expect the unexpected.

That's how you go home to your family in one piece.

The weeks ahead are, historically, the most deadly for railroad workers, with more career-ending injuries than any other period of the year.

The Switching Operations Fatalities Analysis (SOFA) working group -- representatives from labor, management and the FRA -- devotes itself to bringing railroaders home to their families in one piece.

SOFA's five lifesaving tips can save yours:

1) Secure all equipment before action is taken

2) Protect employees against moving equipment

3) Discuss safety at the beginning of a job or when work changes

4) Communicate before action is taken

5) Mentor less experienced employees to perform service safely

The SOFA working group also warns of special switching hazards:

* Close clearances

* Shoving movements

* Unsecured cars

* Free rolling rail cars

* Exposure to mainline trains

* Tripping, slipping or falling

* Unexpected movement of cars

* Adverse environmental conditions

* Equipment defects

* Motor vehicles or loading devices

* Drugs and alcohol

In solidarity, and with concern for you and your family, we wish you a SAFE holiday season and urge you not to drift into a mental vacation:

Your Missouri State Legislative Board

Your Local 1405 Officers

>>>
Be aware of your "Whistleblower Protection" - 11/19/2010

 

 

Be aware of your 'whistleblower protection'  

Every UTU freight and passenger rail member needs to know that federal law protects them from employer retaliation -- and threats of retaliation -- when they report to the carrier or a government agency alleged violations of safety or security laws or regulations, or allegations of fraud, waste or abuse of funds intended for rail safety or security.

Government agencies include federal regulatory or law enforcement agencies, and members of Congress or their staff.

This protection, provided by the Federal Railroad Safety Act of 2007, also extends to employees refusing to work under certain unsafe conditions, or refusing to authorize the use of any safety or security related equipment.

Retaliation, including threats of retaliation, is defined as firing or laying off, blacklisting, demoting, denying overtime or promotion, disciplining, denying benefits, failing to rehire, intimidation, reassignment affecting promotion prospects, or reducing pay or hours.

An employer also is prohibited from disciplining an employee for requesting medical or first-aid treatment, or for following a physician's orders, a physician's treatment plan, or medical advice.

This protection is known as "whistleblower protection," and the federal law is enforced by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), which is an agency of the U.S. Department of Labor.

Complaints must be filed with OSHA within 180 days of the alleged employer retaliation.

Relief may include reinstatement with the same seniority and benefits, backpay with interest, compensatory damages (including witness and legal fees), and punitive damages as high as $250,000.

A rail employee may file the complaint directly with OSHA, or may contact a UTU designated legal counsel, general chairperson or state legislative director for assistance.

A listing of UTU designated legal counsel is available at www.utu.org, or may be obtained from local or general committee officers or state legislative directors.

A more detailed OSHA fact sheet may be downloaded and printed by clicking on the following link:

http://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA-factsheet-whistleblower-railroad.pdf

 

 

November 19, 2010

>>>
Eating fruit could save your life - 11/17/2010


EATING FRUIT...

It's long but very informative
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We all think eating fruits means just buying fruits, cutting it and just popping it into our mouths. It's not as easy as you think. It's important to know how and when to eat.
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What is the correct way of eating fruits?
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IT MEANS NOT EATING FRUITS AFTER YOUR MEALS! * FRUITS SHOULD BE EATEN ON AN EMPTY STOMACH.
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If you eat fruit like that, it will play a major role to detoxify your system, supplying you with a great deal of energy for weight loss and other life activities.
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FRUIT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT FOOD. Let's say you eat two slices of bread and then a piece of fruit. The piece of fruit is ready to go straight through the stomach into the intestines, but it is prevented from doing so.
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In the meantime the whole meal rots and ferments and turns to acid.. The minute the fruit comes into contact with the food in the stomach and digestive juices, the entire mass of food begins to spoil....
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So please eat your fruits on an empty stomach or before your meals! You have heard people complaining — every time I eat watermelon I burp, when I eat durian my stomach bloats up, when I eat a banana I feel like running to the toilet, etc — actually all this will not arise if you eat the fruit on an empty stomach. The fruit mixes with the putrefying other food and produces gas and hence you will bloat!
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Graying hair, balding, nervous outburst, and dark circles under the eyes all these will NOT happen if you take fruits on an empty stomach.
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There is no such thing as some fruits, like orange and lemon are acidic, because all fruits become alkaline in our body, according to Dr. Herbert Shelton who did research on this matter. If you have mastered the correct way of eating fruits, you have the Secret of beauty, longevity, health, energy, happiness and normal weight.
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When you need to drink fruit juice - drink only fresh fruit juice, NOT from the cans. Don't even drink juice that has been heated up. Don't eat cooked fruits because you don't get the nutrients at all. You only get to taste. Cooking destroys all the vitamins.
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But eating a whole fruit is better than drinking the juice. If you should drink the juice, drink it mouthful by mouthful slowly, because you must let it mix with your saliva before swallowing it. You can go on a 3-day fruit fast to cleanse your body. Just eat fruits and drink fruit juice throughout the 3 days and you will be surprised when your friends tell you how radiant you look!
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KIWI: Tiny but mighty. This is a good source of potassium, magnesium, vitamin E & fiber. Its vitamin C content is twice that of an orange.
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APPLE: An apple a day keeps the doctor away? Although an apple has a low vitamin C content, it has antioxidants & flavonoids which enhances the activity of vitamin C thereby helping to lower the risks of colon cancer, heart attack & stroke.
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STRAWBERRY: Protective Fruit. Strawberries have the highest total antioxidant power among major fruits & protect the body from cancer-causing, blood vessel-clogging free radicals.
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ORANGE : Sweetest medicine. Taking 2-4 oranges a day may help keep colds away, lower cholesterol, prevent & dissolve kidney stones as well as lessens the risk of colon cancer.
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WATERMELON: Coolest thirst quencher. Composed of 92% water, it is also packed with a giant dose of glutathione, which helps boost our immune system. They are also a key source of lycopene — the cancer fighting oxidant. Other nutrients found in watermelon are vitamin C & Potassium.
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GUAVA & PAPAYA: Top awards for vitamin C. They are the clear winners for their high vitamin C content.. Guava is also rich in fiber, which helps prevent constipation. Papaya is rich in carotene; this is good for your eyes.
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Drinking Cold water after a meal = Cancer! Can u believe this?? For those who like to drink cold water, this article is applicable to you. It is nice to have a cup of cold drink after a meal. However, the cold water will solidify the oily stuff that you have just consumed. It will slow down the digestion. Once this 'sludge' reacts with the acid, it will break down and be absorbed by the intestine faster than the solid food. It will line the intestine. Very soon, this will turn into fats and lead to cancer. It is best to drink hot soup or warm water after a meal.
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A serious note about heart attacks HEART ATTACK PROCEDURE': (THIS IS NOT A JOKE!) Women should know that not every heart attack symptom is going to be the left arm hurting. Be aware of intense pain in the jaw line. You may never have the first chest pain during the course of a heart attack. Nausea and intense sweating are also common symptoms. Sixty percent of people who have a heart attack while they are asleep do not wake up. Pain in the jaw can wake you from a sound sleep. Let's be careful and be aware. The more we know the better chance we could survive.
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A cardiologist says if everyone who gets this mail sends it to 10 people, you can be sure that we'll save at least one life.

This was taken from an e-mail and UTU nor Local 1405 take any responsibility for it's content. Just passing along as info that makes alot of sense.

>>>
Hazardous Material Training @ NLC - 11/10/2010

2010-11 Hazardous Materials Awareness Training

The Rail Workers Hazardous Materials Training Program will conduct the following hazardous materials transportation/chemical emergency response training programs at the National Labor College – George Meany Campus in Silver Spring, Maryland:

October 10-15, 2010
October 17-22, 2010
March 20-25, 2011
May 1-6, 2011

May 8-13, 2011

The training, eligible for 3 academic credits from the National Labor College, addresses OSHA and DOT required procedures and different levels of response and worker protection in a hazardous materials emergency or release, weapons of mass destruction awareness, the incident command system, as well as components required to complete OSHA 10-Hour Outreach certification. The training includes advanced classroom instruction, small group activities, intensive hands-on drills and a simulated hazmat response in full safety gear.

The Rail Workers Hazardous Materials Training Program is funded to provide this training by a federal grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). This funding provides transportation, lodging, and meals for training participants. In addition, participants who are unable to secure regular pay through their employer or are not union paid officers are eligible for a stipend.

Completed registration forms should be faxed, mailed or e-mailed to the Hazmat office as soon as possible.

REGISTER NOW!  click on the link below for the Rail Workers Hazardous Training Website.

Railway Workers Hazardous Materials Training Program
10000 New Hampshire Avenue
Silver Spring, Maryland 20903
(301) 439-2440
(301) 628-0165 -fax
hjajuga@nlc.edu

http://www.nlc.edu/~bcantrell/index.html
>>>
Bit of Radiological info from a D.O.E. Trainer - 11/9/2010

Just a bit of information from one of the Radiological Trainers from the D.O.E.

Emergency workers should always assume hazardous materials (in some quantity) are present in commercial vehicles. A fire department responded to a motor vehicle accident involving a commercial vehicle; a search of the vehicle turned up a radiography camera. Did I mention "DUI" and "marijuana"? No? Follow the link to a unique haz mat story..... http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700076000/Driver-in-radioactive-truck-crash-had-alcohol-marijuana-in-vehicle-police-say.html
 
Have you ever wondered if some manufacturers don't think before the manufacturer introduces a new product? An example of this is a candy company that offers "radioactive" energy powders (caffeinated products) in flavors such as: Plutonium pear, Radium raspberry lemonade, Strontum strawberry, Uranium yellowcake, and Barium black cherry. Product packages are known as "fuel rods" and contain 90mg of caffeine. These products carry a radioactive marking, are sold in stores around the nation, and may be in your community. Before you get a "radioactive powder" call, check out the product website... www.nukeyourself.com
 
Also, radiation dosimetry devices continue to decrease in size and complexity. The old self reading dosimeters (SRD's) and electronic personal dosimeters (EPD's) have given way to dosimetry devices the size and thickness of a credit card. Recently, a company has developed and is offering a personal dosimetry device the size of a postage stamp.  The device uses "peel and stick" technology, indicates radiation dose by changing color, and costs $2 per unit! For more information on this miniscule product, go to...  http://www.prweb.com/releases/2010/08/prweb4348094.htm

>>>
Protect your dependents healthcare! - 11/4/2010
Protect dependent healthcare coverage

Although UTU members participating in the Railroad Employees National Health and Welfare Plan and the National Railway Carriers and United Transportation Union Health and Welfare Plan have received notices that they must provide Social Security and Medicare Health Insurance Claim numbers for dependents, many have failed to do so.

 

If the required information is not provided as directed, the dependents will be dropped from healthcare coverage on Jan. 31, 2011.

 

There will be no “oops,” no “I was climbing Mount Kilimanjaro,” and no “the dog ate my notice” excuses.

 

If you have received such a notice, comply immediately.

 

If you have questions, or need another copy of the notice and forms, call Railroad Enrollment Services at (800) 753-2692. 

>>>
TIME TO VOTE!! - 10/28/2010
Your vote is crucial. Vote Nov. 2

By James Stem
UTU National Legislative Director

Alfred E. Newman, the not-very-bright Mad magazine character, had an expression shared today by too many Americans: "I am not sure who is running, and my vote won't make a difference anyway."

It is doubtful those harboring that opinion would give up their right to vote.

Our war for independence from Britain was about self-government. More recent struggles among women and minorities for the right to vote were equally hard fought.

Today, it is apathy among middle-class workers -- not foreign troops, not intimidation at the polls, not laws -- that threatens American democracy.

The wealthy and business leaders are more likely to vote than working families. By not going to the polls, working families put at risk their job security, workplace safety, paychecks, access to affordable healthcare and pensions.

If you are concerned that your work schedule or other conflict will hinder your ability to vote on Election Day, Nov. 2, most states allow you an option to vote early.

You can be sure that the wealthy and business leaders will vote -- and vote for candidates who would undermine the financial security of working families.

Our ballot is equal to the ballot of every anti-labor business leader, but it is equal only if we vote.

I am asking you to pay attention to the economic well-being of your family and workplace safety. Ask your UTU local LR and UTU state legislative board for information on local, state and national candidates’ positions toward working families.

In the centerfold of the October issue of UTU News (which you should have received at your home) is a listing, by state, of labor-friendly candidates endorsed by the UTU. This listing is the result of months of research by state legislative boards, the UTU National Legislative Office and the AFL-CIO -- based on interviews with the candidates and their responses to written questions.

The list of labor friendly candidates is also available by clicking the link at the end of this column.

Be proud of the middle class lifestyle your UTU contract supports, and consider voting for candidates who will put the interests of working families first.

If you have further questions, contact the UTU National Legislative Office via e-mail at utujm@msn.com, or call us at (202) 543-7714.

Don't allow others to determine your future. Vote!

To view the list of labor-friendly candidates, click on the following link:

http://www.utu.org/worksite/PDFs/2010_cong_endorsements.pdf

>>>
FRA warns of lapses in Situational Awareness - 10/28/2010
FRA warns of lapses in situational awareness

Citing a series of on-duty career ending injuries and fatalities over the past 24 months that occurred on or near mainline track, the Federal Railroad Administration has issued a safety advisory on the importance of situational awareness, especially when the job being performed in main track territory changes.

FRA Safety Advisory 2010-03 also includes recommendations to railroads "to ensure that these issues are addressed by appropriate policies and procedures."

Among the recommendations is that railroads strengthen and expand to all employees, when on or near track, bans on the use of electronic devices. FRA Emergency Order 26 (soon to be made permanent) only restricts the use of cell phones and other electronic devices by on-duty train and engine workers.

Although the employees injured and killed while on or near mainline track "were all familiar with operating and safety rules," said the FRA, "in each case, the employees' situational awareness seems to have been degraded." Therefore, said the FRA, "employee alertness to changing job situations could have been heightened in these situations by the act of engaging in additional job briefings.

"As the railroad industry is well aware, a job briefing should take place at the beginning of a task and anytime the task changes," said the FRA. "Railroad operating rules and certain federal railroad safety regulations require that these job briefings take place. The job briefing can act, particularly when there is more than one person involved with the task, as a time out for the affected employees to reinforce the need to exercise vigilance and awareness in the performance of their tasks."

Among the FRA's recommendations to railroads:

* Develop processes that promote safety mentoring of fellow workers regardless of their titles or positions.

* Develop procedures that address the need for dialogue between coworkers when exiting equipment near tracks or moving equipment.

* Review the current process for job briefings and determine best practices that encourage constant communication about activities at hand.

* Assess current rules addressing personal safety and employee behavior when on or near tracks, with particular emphasis on main tracks.

* Review current rules pertaining to activities that could cause employees to become distracted, including rules pertaining to the use of electronic devices, with the view of strengthening and expanding them to include all employees when they are on or near tracks.

* Review current rules pertaining to sounding the locomotive horn, with the view of requiring the horn to be sounded when approaching and passing standing trains, especially at or near grade crossings, regardless of whether such crossings are located in quiet zones.

For more information on railroad safety, go to the UTU Website at www.utu.org and click on "Transportation Safety" in the blue tile box on the left.

>>>
2010 General Election Endorsements - 9/19/2010
>>>
Start Policy Changes of 9-1-2010 - 9/1/2010

Brothers,
 
Thankfully, the Carrier has rethought the changes to the START Policy concerning GR-13 and GR-14 violations that were initiated on July 12th.  I think the fact that our Committee and the UTU on Norfolk Southern stood together with unity throughout this process was a very contributing factor to these changes.  The changes as of today are:
 
1)                GR-13/GR-14 violations will continue to be treated as Serious offenses under START.  They will be subject to the normal 24-month rolling period for counting purposes.  The 3-day removal from service portion of the START modifications will, effective today, be held in abeyance.  This means that employees will not be removed from service following an observed violation; however, the Carrier may still send the employee home for the remainder of the tour of duty (with pay).  The supervisor and local chairman will attempt to meet within three days of the violation for purposes of explaining the seriousness of the rule violation, and deciding whether to handle the violation through a START waiver, or through investigation.  The START Oversight Committee will meet again in approximately six months to review the results of this modified approach—were there less violations, and were there no serious injuries as a result of these violations. 
2)                 Rule violation derailments/incidents resulting in damage will be treated as Serious offenses under START.  If the FRA damage threshold is not met, the Carrier will evaluate the incident to determine if the following occurred:
a.     Failure to protect a shove move;
b.    Failure to secure equipment;
c.     Failure to properly line and double-check route.
                  If yes to any of the above, it will likely be treated as a Serious offense.
 
Once again, thanks for the solidarity that was shown at each of our locals.  Communicate these changes to your members and feel free to contact us with any questions or problems.

>>>
National Labor College, Rail HAZMAT Training - 7/28/2010

All rail contract Rail Employees from any craft are eligible to attend. The classes are held at the National Labor College in Silver Spring, MD.

This is the best HAZMAT training that you can recieve anywhere.

2010-11 Hazardous Materials Awareness Training

The Rail Workers Hazardous Materials Training Program will conduct the following hazardous materials transportation/chemical emergency response training programs at the National Labor College - George Meany Campus in Silver Spring, Maryland:

 

 

October 10-15, 2010
October 17-22, 2010
March 20-25, 2011
April 24-29, 2011
May 1-6, 2011

The training, eligible for 3 academic credits from the National Labor College, addresses OSHA and DOT required procedures and different levels of response and worker protection in a hazardous materials emergency or release, weapons of mass destruction awareness, the incident command system, as well as components required to complete OSHA 10-Hour Outreach certification. The training includes advanced classroom instruction, small group activities, intensive hands-on drills and a simulated hazmat response in full safety gear.

The Rail Workers Hazardous Materials Training Program is funded to provide this training by a federal grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and also sponsored in part by funding from the North American Railway Foundation (NARF). This funding provides transportation, lodging, and meals for training participants. In addition, participants who are unable to secure regular pay through their employer or are not union paid officers are eligible for a stipend of $550.00.

Completed registration forms should be faxed, mailed or e-mailed to the Hazmat office as soon as possible.

REGISTER NOW! 

Railway Workers Hazardous Materials Training Program
10000 New Hampshire Avenue
Silver Spring, Maryland 20903
(301) 439-2440
(301) 628-0165 -fax
hjajuga@nlc.edu

>>>
Endorsements for Primary elections are posted under the DOWNLOADS section - 7/7/2010
>>>
UTU seeks safety,security plan - 7/2/2010
UTU seeks collaborative safety, security plan
By UTU International President Mike Futhey

 

The recent tragic, senseless and violent murder in New Orleans of CSX conductor Fred Gibbs, and wounding of the train's engineer (a potential witness whose name is being withheld), accelerates an already urgent need for better workplace safety and security measures for rail, transit and motor coach facilities and operations.

Gibbs and the engineer were shot by a lone gunman (a suspect is in police custody) inside the cab of their intermodal train parked on a dark and isolated stretch of track as it awaited dispatcher clearance to enter a yard in New Orleans. The motive appears to have been robbery of the crew, but the train could have contained a cargo of chlorine gas or other deadly hazmat, and the shooter could have been a terrorist or delusional individual with knowledge of locomotive operations.

Indeed, prior to 9/11, few, if any, envisioned terrorists capable of hijacking and piloting multiple sophisticated passenger aircraft and flying them into high-profile targets; or of terrorists in Madrid, Spain, who coordinated four separate rush-hour bombings aboard packed commuter trains in March 2004.

Many of our members noted immediately after the New Orleans shooting that federal regulations do not require bullet-proof glass in locomotives, tamper-proof and functioning locomotive door locks, "keyed" or electronic safeguards that limit locomotive operation to licensed train and engine workers, or train scheduling and dispatching that restricts the stopping of trains to well-lighted and protected areas.

Certainly these are logical responses to the New Orleans shooting.

But without more expert study and collaboration among experts at the Federal Railroad Administration, Federal Transit Administration, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Transportation Security Administration, the National Transportation Safety Board, law enforcement agencies, carriers and labor organizations representing rail, transit and bus employees, we could be overlooking other effective safeguards.

Transportation labor long has been ahead of the curve in calling for greater collaboration among stakeholders, which includes front-line employee training to recognize threats and learn how best to report concerns to dispatchers and law enforcement.

In fact, Amtrak and the UTU recently agreed to a joint project that, in cooperation with the Transportation Security Administration, directs almost $300,000 in federal funding to the UTU to devise and implement a training program for conductors, assistant conductors, engineers, on-board service personnel and yard employees to enhance their abilities to recognize behavioral traits of individuals intending to engage in terrorist-like activity.

The UTU is now reaching out to build on this program to effectuate workplace safety as it pertains to terrorist and delusional activities.

We are seeking collaboration among other concerned labor organizations, federal safety and homeland security agencies, and carriers to create an incubator for effective ideas on a comprehensive security action plan, including employee training, that can be presented to Congress for fast-track federal funding.

We are heartened by word from CSX that it has begun a cooperative security venture with other carriers and law enforcement agencies to increase security around interchanges and loops in New Orleans.

The potential threat, however, is nationwide; and as train and engine employees, and bus drivers, are constantly in the cross-hairs of danger as well as being the eyes and ears best and first able to recognize threats, it is essential that transportation labor organizations be an integral part of any effort to improve rail, transit and bus security.

Historically, transportation labor and the carriers have been most successful in achieving policy goals when they act in concert. Where carriers or labor act separately -- and often at odds with each other -- success often is elusive or falls short of goals.

For any action plan to be effective, all parties with accountability and responsibility must collaborate in the creation and implementation of that plan.

We will be reporting more on this effort in the near future.

June 27, 2010
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National Rail contract talks update - 7/1/2010
National rail contract talks update

National rail contract talks are continuing between the UTU and the National Carriers Conference Committee (NCCC).

 

The NCCC represents BNSF, CSX, Kansas City Southern, Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific and numerous smaller carriers.

 

Three negotiating sessions have been conducted since Jan. 1, when the existing contract came open for amendment under provisions of the Railway Labor Act.

 

In the initial two bargaining sessions, the UTU discussed with the carriers the topics of employee productivity, railroad finances and the general economic environment.

 

The most recent bargaining session, May 18-19, focused on health care issues.

 

The next bargaining session is scheduled for early June, where the sides will revisit economic and health care issues.

 

The existing agreement, covering some 40,000 UTU members, remains in force until amendments are concluded under provisions of the Railway Labor Act.

 

For more information on national rail contract bargaining, visit www.utu.org and click on the “National Rail Contract” link at the bottom right hand corner of the page.

May 25, 2010
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We need training to spot trouble - 6/23/2010

 

We need training to spot trouble
By International President Mike Futhey

Train and engine employees are the eyes and ears of every railroad, and most often the first to recognize threats and provide a response.

The post 9/11 environment dangers now include foreign terrorist threats as well as home-grown threats by disturbed individuals.

The UTU is currently engaged with Amtrak in seeking federal funds to finance training of conductors, assistant conductors, on-board service personnel and yard employees to enhance their abilities to recognize behavioral traits of individuals intending to engage in terrorist activity. This project will include coordination with the Transportation Security Administration.

Under the leadership of my administrative assistant, Bruce Feltmeyer (Local 1402), we have proposed a federally funded joint effort with Amtrak to develop situational awareness training of Amtrak employees best positioned to recognize impending attacks, whether it be aboard trains, in stations, in yards or along the right-of-way.

The core of the project is to produce a security awareness manual for front-line Amtrak employees, presenting various terrorist scenarios and means of recognizing behavioral traits of those intending to cause harm to physical facilities, passengers and Amtrak employees. This manual will be accompanied by a scenario-based video.

Bruce is uniquely qualified. During his years of rail service, he has developed training programs for the on-line UTU University; and, as a Union Pacific employee, he helped to develop customer-service related training materials for conductors and newly hired managers. He also taught business software as an adjunct professor at a St. Louis community college.

As the UTU and Amtrak are painfully aware, millions of dollars are being spent to recognize and prevent terrorist threats at airports and aboard aircraft, but far fewer funds are allocated to protect the nation’s rail, transit and bus infrastructure. At train, transit and bus stations, passengers routinely board trains and buses with backpacks and luggage that is not screened.

If our joint funding grant is approved, the UTU and Amtrak jointly will build upon those efforts to enhance the ability of front-line Amtrak employees to recognize threats and learn how best to report concerns to dispatchers and law enforcement.

A successful joint project with Amtrak could lead to additional labor-management coordination in employee security training with freight railroads, transit operators and bus companies.

Terrorist threats are real and have been carried out against rail, transit and bus operations in other nations. Enhanced security that directly involves front-line employees protects our livelihoods. The UTU is capable, willing and anxious to play a key role training front-line employees to help protect our ground-based transportation networks.

On a related note, those attending UTU regional meetings in Phoenix and Asheville this summer will have opportunity to attend four-hour workshops hosted by the National Transit Institute of Rutgers University. Presentations will be made on existing surveillance monitoring techniques and methods of identifying would-be terrorists intent on using explosives, biological chemicals and/or firearms in an attack.

June 22, 2010

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