2013 FOURTH QUARTER REPORT
ALL LOCAL UNIONS
SYSTEM COUNCIL NO. 2
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
Another year has quickly passed and this will be the final report
for 2013. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season together with family and friends. On behalf of myself and the System Council staff, we
extend our best wishes for a healthy and prosperous new year.
As a part of a new program recently announced by the Labor
Member of the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) Walter Barrows,
Railroad employees and spouses close to retirement will now be able to
learn the latest benefit information and application requirements.
Designed for railroad employees and spouses planning to retire within
five years, the new Pre-Retirement Seminars will familiarize attendees
with retirement benefits available to them, and also help them with the
application process. Individuals who have not previously submitted the
required documentation in order to file for a railroad retirement annuity,
such as proof of age, marriage, or military service, are encouraged to
bring this material to the seminar. The program will begin in 2014 on a
pilot basis. Seminars are currently planned for St Louis on April 4th,
Omaha on May 16th, and Huntington on June 20th. Additional details
and locations will be forthcoming. The RRB personnel will lead the Pre-
Retirement seminars, which will be held from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Each year the Railroad National Health and Welfare Plan’s
Prescription Provider – “Express Scripts” reviews current drugs on its
formulary list to see if there are other drugs which provide the same
therapeutic benefits as the ones it is currently dispensing, but at a lower
cost. This is done as a cost savings to the Plan and its members, and is
a normal practice of all prescription plan providers. If other drugs are
found that meet the above criteria, then the drugs they are replacing are
removed from the Express Script list of available drugs, and members
are then required to switch to the new more cost-effective drugs. These
changes go into effect on January 1st. Any member who is receiving a
drug(s) that is being removed from the Express Scripts list should have
already received a letter from Express Scripts notifying them. The letter
also advises what other drugs are available to replace the ones being
removed from the list, and also explains what to do if for some reason
their doctors insist that they stay on the name brand drug being removed
from the list. (EXPRESS SCRIPTS 2014
Following final approval and funding by the National Mediation
Board (NMB), the System Council attended arbitration before Public
Law Board 7001 on the date of November 21, 2013, at which time we
presented the current cases between System Council No. 2 and the
Union Pacific Railroad. We are currently waiting for those decisions to
be rendered and will notify the claimant’s and local unions accordingly
as they are received. Currently, Congress has not passed an
appropriation for the NMB for fiscal year 2014. The NMB is operating
under a continuing resolution which expires on January 15, 2014. Since
the present appropriation expires on January 15, 2014, the parties were
notified that arbitrators do not have any authority to schedule cases past
this date if they involve expenditure of funds by the NMB. Nonetheless,
the System Council is prepared to secure additional arbitration dates at
the earliest convenience for the upcoming months as soon as
authorization is received.
United Health Care (UHC) recently advised that their contract with
the Indiana University Health System (IUHS) has expired and terminated
effective January 1, 2014. Coverage for providers in this health system
is now considered “out of network”. UHC has been in negotiations with
IUHS in an effort to reach an agreement to continue their relationship,
however to date these negotiations have not been successful. In most
instances agreements are reached and coverage reinstated. UHC is
committed to doing all they can to reach a new agreement with IUHS.
This affects only those members covered by UHC and not those
covered by Aetna or Blue Cross/Blue Shield.
* During the week of October 1st, AGC-ST Shell and I met at the System Council office to review and finalize the third quarter financial responsibilities. On October 3rd, we met with LU 942 Local Chairman Hunter Jordan and toured the UPRR Fort Worth facility.
* On October 9th, AGC Shell assisted Little Rock LU 807 with a disciplinary investigation.
* On the date of October 15th, the System Council staff and I attended
a Non-Operating Crafts General Chairmen’s meeting with various Union
* On the date of October 16th, the System Council staff and I attended the Union Pacific General Chairmen’s Association meeting.
* During the week of October 21st, the System Council staff and I attended the annual IBEW Railroad Department conference as well as the Railroad Coordinating Council and IBEW General Chairman meetings.
* During the week of October 28th, AGC Starkjohann attended meetings with UPRR Labor Relations to discuss outstanding discipline claims and subcontracting issues. Brother Starkjohann also toured and visited with the members at the UPRR Harriman Dispatch Center, Omaha, NE.
* On the date of November 6th, AGC Shell and I met with Kansas City Southern Railway Labor Relations to discuss outstanding claims and other issues affecting our KCS membership at Shreveport, LA and Kansas City, MO.
* On the date of November 8th, AGC Shell attended a meg with the members of the Shreveport LU 1829 to discuss various issues.
* During the week of November 5th, AGC Starkjohann attended an Arbitration class at the University of Iowa.
* During the week of November 11th, AGC Shell assisted Shreveport LU 1829 with a disciplinary investigation and attended a meeting with the LU officers.
* During the week of November 19th, AGC Starkjohann and Shell attended arbitration before PLB 7001 with Union Pacific Railroad.
* On November 12th, VGC Tortorice attended and assisted El Paso, Texas LU 726 with a disciplinary investigation.
* During the month of November, VGC Tortorice also assisted LU’s 889, 799 and 650 with several disciplinary matters.
* During the month of November, AGC Starkjohann commenced discussions with UPRR concerning the abolishing of positions and restructuring of the work force in the Engineering Department. Issues involving the force stablization agreement were discussed and resolved at this time.
* On the date of December 2nd, I met with AGC Shell to discuss the cases submitted to arbitration.
* On December 3rd, I attended a Shopcraft General Chairmen’s meeting at the UPRR North Little Rock facility to discuss updating the Mechanics in Charge (MIC) C&NW Agreement. We are currently in the process of scheduling a follow up meeting to discuss this matter further. During theme at the North Little Rock facility, I also briefly met with LU 807 Local Chairman Tom Modica to discuss some ongoing issues.
* During the week of December 3rd, AGC-ST Shell attended a class concerning Financial Officer responsibilities.
* During the month of December, the System Council staff began writing and preparing cases for arbitration scheduled in 2014. We also began discussions with Union Pacific regarding compensation/overtime/rest day issues affecting monthly rated members working in the Engineering Department, AGC Starkjohann is currently researching this matter further.
Finally, throughout the fourth quarter, the System Council staff and I have been busy filing and process several new claims and subcontracting disputes as well as assisting the membership and local unions with everyday issues and concerns. With the beginning of the new year, I must again remind the local unions to familiarize and adhere to the applicable reporting requirements of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) and the Department of Labor (DOL). Local Union information and forms regarding federal reporting requirements with the DOL as well as the IRS and RRB can be found at the following websites:
Please find the following attachments for your review and dissemination:
2. RRB News Release – RRB OCTOBER 2013;
3. RRB News Release – RRB NOVEMBER 2013;
4. RRB News Release – RRB DECEMBER 2013;
5. EXPRESS SCRIPTS 2014ational Referred Formulary Changes for 2014.
With best wishes, I remain
cc: IVP’s System Council 2
Bill Bohne, Director of Railroads