2014 FIRST QUARTER REPORT
ALL LOCAL UNIONS
SYSTEM COUNCIL NO. 2
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
As a reminder the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) is hosting pre- retirement seminars for Railroad workers and their spouses who are closing in on retirement within five years. These Seminars, which began this year on a pilot basis, will help to educate the attendees with retirement benefit information and also assist with the application process. Please check the RRB website frequently for location and times of a seminar close to you. Those unable to attend the seminars but still seeking pre-retirement information should contact the RRB. Individual retirement counseling is available in person at an agency field office, or by phone by contacting the RRB toll-free at 1-877-772-5772.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently found the Grand Trunk Western Railway Co. and Union Pacific Railroad Co. in violation of the Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA) for suspending and/or disciplining five workers following the reporting of workplace injuries. OSHA regional administrator Nick Walters noted that when employees are disciplined for reporting workplace injuries, safety concerns or illnesses, worker safety and health are clearly not the company’s priority. He further stated that more than 60 percent of FRSA complaints filed with OSHA against railroad companies involve an allegation that a railroad worker has been retaliated against for reporting an on-the-job injury. Based on the foregoing, OSHA has ordered the companies to pay back wages along with interest, punitive and compensatory damages and attorney’s fees. The companies will also be required to remove disciplinary information from the employees’ personal records and must provide “whistleblower rights information” to workers.
OSHA ordered Grand Trunk Western Railway to pay four workers a total of $85,580. A building and bridge carpenter will receive $29,671 in lost wages less employment taxes, $2,119 in lost vacation pay and $10,000 in punitive and compensatory damages. He was suspended for 20 days following the reporting of a workplace injury that occurred in December 2011. A conductor will receive $29,671 in lost wages, less employment taxes, $2,119 in lost vacation pay and $10,000 in punitive and compensatory damages. He received a 60-day suspension from work after reporting a workplace injury in November 2011. Another conductor will receive $1,500 in punitive and compensatory damages after the employee was issued a 45-day suspension, which has not been served, for taking unauthorized leave in 2012 for ongoing medical treatment. OSHA’s finding upheld that the medical treatment should have been an excused absence. Additionally, a conductor will receive $500 in punitive damages and one days lost wages after he was issued a one-day suspension for reporting a workplace injury in February 2013.
Union Pacific Railroad Co. has been ordered to pay a brakeman $1,289.68 in lost wages, less employment taxes and $10,000 in punitive and compensatory damages along with interest and attorney’s fees. OSHA’s investigation upheld the brakeman’s allegation that the company issued him a one-day suspension and required him to attend remedial simulator training after he was injured by battery acid fumes when investigating a possible fire in the engine room of a locomotive.
Under OSHA whistleblower rights, employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who raise various protected concerns or provide protected information to the employer or to the government. Detailed information regarding employee Whistleblower rights, including fact sheets, is available at http://www.whistleblowers.gov.
• During the month of January the System Council staff and I continued preparing cases for arbitration with the Union Pacific Railroad (Public Law Board 7001) and the Kansas City Southern Railway (Public Law Board 7160).
• During the month, VGC Don Tortorice attended and assisted Los Angeles Local 889 with a disciplinary investigation.
• During the week of January 21st, I received the Awards from Public Law Board 7001, which were finalized and provided to the applicable Local Union’s and Claimant(s) accordingly.
• On the date of January 24th, I met with Local 942 President Rex Davis to discuss several local matters.
• During the week of January 27th, AGC-ST Randy Shell attended and assisted Kansas City Southern Shreveport Local 1829 with a disciplinary investigation.
• During the month, AGC David Starkjohann attended the monthly meeting of Omaha Local 618. He initiated several Engineering Department claims with the Union Pacific. He also assisted LU’s with several Telecom contractual issues, subcontracting disputes, and disciplinary issues.
• During the month of February, I finalized a list of cases to be
docketed for arbitration with the Union Pacific Railroad and Kansas City
• During the week of February 20th, AGC Randy Shell attended a
continuing education labor studies class – “Arbitration.”
• During the week of February 24th, the System Council staff and I
toured and met with Local 618 members working at Union Pacific’s
Harriman Dispatch Center and Data Center.
• On the date of February 26th, the System Council staff and I attended a staff meeting to discuss various local union issues and outstanding claims currently being progressed.
• On the date of February 27th, the System Council staff and I met with
Union Pacific Labor Relations to discuss time claims, subcontracting
and discipline disputes, as well as various other matters of concern.
• During the month, AGC Dave Starkjohann continued address
numerous issues affecting Union Pacific’s Telecom and Engineering
Departments. Brother Starkjohann also began preparation for three
• During the week of March 4th, AGC’s Starkjohann and Shell
attended three disciplinary investigations on behalf of three members
working in the Telecom Department.
• On the date of March 18th, VGC Tortorice, AGC Shell and I attended
a UPRR Non-Operating Crafts Union Leadership meeting with various
Union Pacific personnel. The meeting included topics such as,
Operations and Financial Business review; Engineering Update; Santa
Teresa facility update; Redeployment; Health & Medical; High-Speed
Rail project; Dual fuel powered locomotives, and an open discussion.
• On the date of March 19th, AGC Shell and I attended the Union
Pacific General Chairman’s Association meeting.
• On the date of March 19th, AGC David Starkjohann assisted Salt
Lake City Local 650 with a disciplinary investigation in Pocatello, ID.
• During the month, I finalized the “Attachment A” with Union Pacific in
order to docket cases for arbitration before PLB 7001. AGC-ST Shell
and I began preparation for fiscal year reports and audit.
Throughout the quarter, the System Council staff and I have been busy
assisting the local unions with day to day issues and researching and
progressing disputes. Finally, I was recently notified that although the
National Mediation Board did receive our joint (IBEW/UPRR) request to
assign an Arbitrator to hear cases docketed for arbitration, that at this
time the request was denied due to unavailability of funds. In
accordance with the NMB policy, if funds are not available for the month
requested, the request will be considered for funding during subsequent
months and placed on a waiting list. I will notify the Claimant’s and LU’s
as soon as funding is available and the dates are secured.
Please find the following attachments for your review and
1. RRB Information Publication – RRB-January 2014
2. RRB Information Publication –RRB-February 2014
3. RRB Information Publication – RRB-March 2014
4. RRB Scheduled Informational Conferences – see rrb.gov
With best wishes, I remain
Cc: IVP’s System Council 2
Bill Bohne, Director of Railroads