ALL LOCAL UNIONS SYSTEM COUNCIL NO. 2
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
In a recent decision, U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton issued a Memorandum and Order upholding the position of Amtrak, CSXT and Springfield Terminal that the RUIA preempts application of the Massachusetts Earned Sick Time Law to railroad workers. This is one of two cases (the other in California) in which the IBEW and other unions are siding with states’ attorney-general to argue that employees should benefit from the state laws that require employers to provide their employees working in the state with up to 40 hours paid sick leave for
absences due either to their own illnesses and injuries or to care for ill or injured members of their immediate families. The carriers argue that the state laws are preempted by the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act, the Railway Labor Act, and ERISA. The Judge issued a broad conclusion “that the statutory text of the RUIA reflects the congressional intent that the RUIA preempt all state laws…” He found that “Congress intended the RUIA to serve as the exclusive source of all sickness benefits for railroad employees and to preclude the employees from claiming rights to sickness benefits under any state sickness law…” Because he found the RUIA language explicit on its face, he did not rely on the legislative history presented by either side. Briefing in the
California case begins August 19th, 2016, with a hearing scheduled for December 2nd, 2016.
The Texas Supreme Court has interpreted the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) not to apply to a maintenance of way employee who contacted West Nile virus from a mosquito bite while on the job. It
applied a doctrine which limits a property owner’s liability for harm from indigenous animals that he has not attracted to the property. It rejected the proposition that Union Pacific was responsible for the conditions that
attracted the mosquitoes by not repairing a tampering machine and not mowing its right-of-way. The Court noted that nothing about (the employees) job made him more susceptible to contracting West Nile
than any other person who worked outside all day and that Union Pacific did nothing to increase the risk to him.
The IBEW Railroad department recently announced completion of the OE-1 form update for use by local unions when reporting Railroad Retirement taxes to the International Office. These forms are in Excel format and are to be filled out on your computer and forwarded to the International Office via email. The forms are accessed on the IBEW website under Local Connections – Railroad Resources, Railroad Retirement Tax info. There are three forms – one for local unions reporting up to seven (7) employees, one for up to fourteen (14) employees, and one for up to twenty-one (21) employees. These forms are very easy to use. Instructions for filling out the forms and forwarding same to the International Office were recently provided to each local union via email by IBEW Railroad Department Director Bill Bohne’. If you have any questions with regard to completing OE-1 forms or the handling of Railroad Retirement taxes, please contact Director Bohne’ and/or the IBEW Railroad department.
As noted by IBEW Railroad Director Bill Bohne’, Mediation sessions with the national freight railroads continue to move along at a very slow Labor Unions are looking at different ways to work through these issues. On May 4th, 2016, the three Rail Labor Coalitions (comprised of all of the Rail Labor Unions) met to discuss innovative approaches to addressing the Health and Welfare issues. Negotiation/Mediation sessions have continued throughout the second quarter with additional dates scheduled for the upcoming months. I will continue to keep you apprised with any progress.
Throughout the second quarter, the freight railroads continued sluggish due to several factors including the decline in coal traffic and carloadings. In my previous report, I noted several locations which experienced cutbacks and furloughs of IBEW membership. I have requested that all local unions continue to monitor each work location for additional work opportunities and forward such information to the System Council. In addition, I have requested that any sign of subcontracting be investigated and reported to your System Council representative. We continue to address overtime issues at the various UPRR locations and continue to explore recall opportunities at locations
where members have been furloughed. Recently business levels have increased with a slight rise in coal business and other. We are hopeful that this trend continues. Nonetheless, due to ongoing discussions with
the Carrier and with the help of Local 1920, three members were recently recalled to the Union Pacific’s North Platte locomotive facility. Also, due to the subcontracting claims progressed within the UPRR Engineering department several open positions have been re-established across the system. The System Council will continue to explore all opportunities to expand our work and recall of our furloughed members.
The System Council is currently pursuing a dispute against the Union Pacific Telecommunication Department for their recent decision to arbitrarily change the way meal expenses are provided while away from home point. Specifically, IBEW Technicians are being informed by management that there must now be an overnight lodging expense in order to qualify for a meal allowance. The System Council recently notified the Carrier that this is a misapplication of the Rule(s) and a direct violation of the Controlling Agreement. The Carrier’s attempt to
unilaterally change this long-established system wide practice is clearly unwarranted. The System Council is prepared to take whatever action is necessary in order to resolve this matter and is currently gathering
information from those members affected by this change in order to move forward with the dispute.
Based on a request to amalgamate, the International Office recently notified the System Council that the membership of Cheyenne, Wyoming Local Union 775 would be transferred into Salt Lake City, Utah Local Union 650. The members of Local 775 were transferred to Local 650 on a Group Transfer effective May 1, 2016, in accordance with Article XIII, Section 3 of the IBEW Constitution.
* The System Council staff and I attended the annual IBEW Railroad Department meeting.
* VGC Tortorice & AGC Reynoso met with the members and officers of Houston Local 1814, and toured the UPRR Houston Locomotive Facility, and met with the Shop Director.
* VGC Tortorice & AGC Reynoso conducted local chairman training and claim/grievance handling training for Local 1814.
* AGC Shell and I met with the members and officers of San Antonio Local 1911,and toured the UPRR facility and met with Shop management to address ongoing issues.
* AGC Starkjohann attended the IBEW Eleventh District Progress meeting.
* AGC Shell assisted North Platte Local 1920 with a disciplinary hearing.
* AGC Starkjohann attended the monthly meeting of Omaha Local 618.
* AGC/STShell and I met to review the fiscal year reporting of System Council No. 2.
* I attended the monthly meeting of Fort Worth Local 942.
* AGC Reynoso met with electricians in Bakersfield, California, to address various issues and concerns.
* VGC Tortorice attended the monthly meeting for Los Angeles Local 889.
* AGC Shell attended the Railroad Retirement informational conference.
* AGC Shell and AGC Starkjohann assisted Omaha Local 618 with two disciplinary investigations.
* AGC Shell met with officers of Kansas City Local 1832.
* AGC Reynoso and I assisted Local 1911 with a disciplinary matter and waiver.
* AGC’s Starkjohann, Shell and I attended a meeting with Union Pacific to discuss subcontracting concerns and claims filed on behalf of the engineering district electrician workforce.
* AGC Shell and I attended arbitration before Public Law Board 7160 regarding cases with the Kansas City Southern Railway.
* AGC Shell and I met with the officers of Fort Worth Local 942.
* I attended the convention and meeting for IBEW System Council No. 9.
* I met with AGC Shell regarding preparation fo the annual System Council audit.
* AGC Starkjohann attended a claims meeting with UPRR Labor Relations to discuss the subcontracting concerns.
Throughout the second quarter the System Council staff continued to progres claims, grievances and disciplinary appeals as well as assist the local unions with ongoing issues and concerns. I am still awaiting approval and funding by the NMB for those cases listed before Public Law Board 7001 regarding Union Pacific Railroad. As soon as I am notified of approval, I will notify the claimants and local unions accordingly.
With best wishes, I remain
cc: IVP’s System Council 2
Bill Bohne, Dir of Railroads