On March 15th, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) issued a long overdue proposed regulation requiring that most trains in America have a minimum of two crewmembers. While SMART TD supports the core requirements of the rule, we believe that it can be strengthened and improved before this proposed regulation becomes final. We also expect the railroads to do everything in their power to weaken the rule. That is why we need your help.
As a railroad worker, you have firsthand knowledge of the importance of two-person crews and the dangers of single-person operations. That is why the FRA needs to hear your voice on this critical safety issue. Please follow this link to submit your own comments on the rule, citing your personal experiences and expertise in operating trains.
The most effective thing you can include in your comments is a personal story of how having two people on your crew prevented an accident from happening. It is not necessary to include all the details like train numbers or dates; just an overview of the incident and how having the second crew member made a difference. Examples of how the second crew member cleared a blocked crossing for an emergency vehicle or dealt with emergency responders during a derailment would also be very beneficial.
No one can make a stronger case for two-person crews than those who work — or have worked — on the front lines operating trains every day.
The deadline for comments has been extended to June 15, 2016 – more time to get your co-workers, friends, family members and community leaders to comment!
Thank you for your help with this critically important issue.
Below is an excellent example of a comment submitted by retired member Daniel Potaracke from Wisconsin:
Agency: Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)
Document Type: Rulemaking
Title: Train Crew Staffing
Document ID: FRA-2014-0033-0001
Thank You for this opportunity to comment on this important issue.
I started on the BNSF RR in 1972 and retired in 2013 after 42 years of service. In 1972, I was one of 5 crew members on a train. When I retired, there were just 2 people on a train, the engineer and I the conductor. I’ve seen lots of changes on the railroad and that is putting it very mildly. With all the technology, you would think it would be safer but, I believe it has actually gotten less safe for a number of reasons. The railroads went from handling and hauling basic cargo and smaller trains to now handling much bigger trains with lots more dangerous cargo in increasing amounts. I remember having “a few” dangerous shipments but, when I retired, I was responsible for having LOTS of dangerous and hazardous cargoes. Just before I retired, I had to sift through lots and lots of paperwork to make sure I had ALL the information and redundancy so if there was a problem, I had some solutions for emergency workers and whomever needed it. I’m not saying it is bad but, making sure I had the paperwork and having someone else to count on made it somewhat better; and, how else are shippers going to transport these dangerous cargoes other than the nations highways? From what I’ve read about the trucking industry, with one person driving a huge truck with dangerous materials and the fatigue the truck drivers put up with, I’m amazed there aren’t more crashes. Having 2 people on a train is definitely much more safe!
Having two sets of eyes and ears on the front end of ALL trains is essential for safety for everyone including the public, the employees and the railroads themselves. As a retired BNSF RR conductor, I’ve personally witnessed many “emergency” type incidents that warranted immediate attention and I’m not at all sure that they would have been caught by just one person. Splitting duties in such a way that there are two people onboard makes it easier for one of them to catch a problem vs having one person having so many things to be aware of and all at the same time. I know from personal experience that I’ve averted a few derailments or possible derailments because I’ve caught a problem on either my train or another passing train be it sticking brakes, cracked wheels or hot bearings and shifted loads or other problems.
As you know, the railroads carry so many commodities that are very hazardous including oil trains that will burn out of control for days at a time, nuclear waste, chemicals that are certain death with contact or inhalation and munitions and explosives.
Having two people on a train can catch a problem before a derailment with any of the above cargoes in a city or even out in the country where winds can blow dangerous inhalations to a city or town. Imagine a burning and exploding oil train in a congested city as big as Chicago or Minneapolis or even a small town where the entire population could be wiped out! We have all seen the images of burning oil trains; now imagine that in the middle of a city with populations living within a few hundred feet!
I sometimes wonder if the railroad companies are like the automobile companies that work out the risks or odds of a derailment or toxic release or something similar where they cross their fingers and hope nothing happens but, if something did happen, the chances are 1 in X amount of percent, they could live with that and the resulting monetary damages…or deaths…or whatever.
Please keep America safe with the railroads running safe with two people!
WASHINGTON – Many characterize union organizing campaigns as debates between management and labor over the impact of unionization on businesses and workers. Today, employers commonly engage third-party consultants in crafting and delivering anti-union messages to workers. Workers often do not know when employers engage consultants behind the scenes to influence their decisions.
To address this lack of transparency, a new rule from the U.S. Department of Labor will require reporting of employer-consultant, or “persuader” agreements – to complement the information that unions already report on their organizing expenditures, resulting in better information for workers making decisions on whether or not to form a union or bargain collectively.
“Workers should know who is behind an anti-union message. It’s a matter of basic fairness,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “This new rule will allow workers to know whether the messages they’re hearing are coming directly from their employer or from a paid, third-party consultant. Full disclosure of persuader agreements gives workers the information they need to make informed choices about how they pursue their rights to organize and bargain collectively. As in all elections, more information means better decisions.”
“This rule is about disclosure, and more disclosure here means more peaceful and stable labor-management relations. With workers having a better understanding of the true source of persuader communications, worker-supervisor and other workplace relationships are likely to proceed more smoothly no matter what is decided regarding union representation,” said Office of Labor-Management Standards Director Michael Hayes.
The new rule interprets Section 203 of the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act. The law requires labor organizations, consultants, and employers to file reports and disclose expenditures on labor-management activities. The law intends to prevent abuse, corruption, and improper practices by labor organizations, employers, and labor relations consultants alike.
A longstanding loophole, however, allows employers to hire consultants to create materials, strategies and policies for organizing campaigns – and even to script managers’ communications with employees – without disclosing anything, as long as the consultant does not directly contact employees. The new rule closes the loophole to align the regulation with the statute, by requiring reporting on “actions, conduct or communications that are undertaken with an object, explicitly or implicitly, directly or indirectly, to affect an employee’s decisions regarding his or her representation or collective bargaining rights.” Under the same statute, unions already are required to make comprehensive public reports on their expenditures, including expenditures on union-organizing campaigns.
The Federal Register will publish the new rule on March 24. The change will be applicable to arrangements, agreements, and payments made on or after July 1, 2016. The final rule and additional information is available on the OLMS website at http://www.dol.gov/olms/regs/compliance/ecr_finalrule.htm.
SMART's Discipline Income Protection Program: It Pays.
What benefits are paid? You choose the level of benefits you want, from $6 to $200 per day, all at low monthly assessments. The term of benefits, from 200 to 365 days, depends on how long you have been enrolled in the program.
Who sponsors the program? SMART sponsors the Discipline Income Protection Program.
Who is eligible for coverage? SMART Transportation Division members in the U.S. may enroll as members on a voluntary basis.
How do I join? In the U.S., contact your field supervisor or local insurance representative for details, or write to:
Discipline Income Protection Program
SMART Transportation Division
24950 Country Club Blvd., Ste. 340
North Olmsted, Ohio 44070-5333
More information? If you would like more information about the SMART Discipline Income Protection Program, send requests to the e-mail address below:
If you would like to view the Discipline Income Protection Program’s schedule of benefits, click on the link below:
This is only a brief description of the Discipline Income Protection Program. The program is governed only by the terms of the official plan document. If there is any conflict between this description and the official plan document or between the official plan document and any statement by any person (including a SMART employee or representative), the plan document will govern.
Application: To download an application for the Discipline Income Protection Program, click on the link below:
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced that the agencies are seeking public input during the next 90 days on the impacts of screening, evaluating and treating rail workers and commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The National Transportation Safety Board recommended that DOT take action to address OSA screening and treatment for transportation workers.
The joint Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) is the first step as both agencies consider whether to propose requirements specifically on OSA. FRA and FMCSA will host three public listening sessions to gather input on OSA in Washington, D.C., Chicago, and Los Angeles.
“It is imperative for everyone’s safety that commercial motor vehicle drivers and train operators be fully focused and immediately responsive at all times,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “DOT strongly encourages comment from the public on how to best respond to this national health and transportation safety issue.”
It is estimated that 22 million men and women could be suffering from undiagnosed OSA, a respiratory disorder characterized by a reduction or cessation of breathing during sleep. Undiagnosed or inadequately treated moderate to severe OSA can cause unintended sleep episodes and deficits in attention, concentration, situational awareness, memory, and the capacity to safely respond to hazards when performing safety sensitive service. For individuals with OSA, eight hours of sleep can be less refreshing than four hours of ordinary, uninterrupted sleep, according to a study by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. The size and scope of the potential problem means that OSA presents a critical safety issue for all modes and operations in the transportation industry.
“The sooner patients with OSA are diagnosed and treated, the sooner our rail network will be safer,” said FRA Administrator Sarah E. Feinberg. “Over the next 90 days, we look forward to hearing views from stakeholders about the prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea, their views on diagnosis and treatment, and potential economic impacts.”
“The collection and analysis of sound data on the impact of OSA must be our immediate first step,” said FMCSA Acting Administrator Scott Darling. “We call upon the public to help us better understand the prevalence of OSA among commercial truck and bus drivers, as well as the safety and economic impacts on the truck and bus industries.”
FRA is also currently working on a rule that will require certain railroads to establish fatigue management plans. In 2012, FRA partnered with the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, the WFBH Education Foundation and the John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center to sponsor the Railroaders’ Guide to Healthy Sleep website. The site provides educational information to railroaders and their families about sleep disorders and information to improve sleep quality.
For any CMV drivers who are detected to have a respiratory dysfunction, such as OSA, FMCSA currently recommends that medical examiners refer them for further evaluation and therapy. In January 2015, FMCSA issued a bulletin to remind healthcare professionals on the agency’s National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners of the current physical qualifications standard and advisory criteria concerning the respiratory system, specifically how the requirements apply to drivers that may have obstructive sleep apnea. Click here for a copy of the FMCSA bulletin.
To read the ANPRM and provide comments, visit: https://www.fra.dot.gov/eLib/Details/L17364.
Missouri State Legislative Board Holds 2016 Reorganization Meeting
On January 5th the Missouri State Legislative board convened to hold their Quadrennial Reorganization Meeting.
Right after opening the meeting, Retiring Director Ken Menges gave a report of the status of the board and an overview of all the accomplishments and battles from the last four years. In his report he covered the so called right to work bills and all of the other anti-Labor legislation that was brought up during the 2015 legislative session in Missouri and how 2016 looked to be No different.
He was absolutely correct. The next day as the Missouri Legislature came in for their opening day of the 2016 session they wasted no time picking up where they left off last year. Right after finishing the ceremonial procedures they moved right in to 1st reading two anti-labor to get the session started.
Next order of business was the election of new officers to lead the State Board into the future. With the retirement of Ken Menges, Jason Hayden was elected to assume the position of Director. Following was the elections of J. Curt Jones as Assistant Director, Gerald Wohlgemuth as Chairman, E. Thad Krawczyk III as 1st Vice Chairperson, Delores Fortune as 2nd Vice Chairperson (Bus), and Delayne Wilson as Secretary.
Director Hayden said “With the Great Executive Committee that was elected to assist me through the next four years, we will be able to weather any storm that approaches us. I look forward to working with them and making this board the best, most productive and respected board it can be. Thanks to the groundwork that has been laid and the pathway that was left by Director Menges. We now have some pretty big shoes to fill but as long as we all work together for the greater good of the members then we should be able to accomplish anything.”.
For the next two days, there were numerous different training courses for the LR’s. From what to look out for around the properties, how to identify, write up and report issues and proper follow up procedures. They brought in SMART-TD Political Advisor Dean Mitchell to give a presentation on GOTV and using the L.A.N. system. Also in attendance were National Legislative Director John Risch, Second General Vice President & President/Business Manager SWM Local 36 David Zimmermann, General Vice President Transportation Division David Weir, Business Manager Greg Chastain SMW Local 2 Kansas City, Business Agents Brad Burk and Doug Piant from SMW Local 36 St. Louis, Nebraska State Legislative Director Bob Borgeson and numerous politicians and candidates from the State and Federal level.
The meeting closed Wednesday the 7th with all the LR’s attending the Missouri Governors Prayer breakfast and a tour of the State Capitol for those that wanted to attend. All in all, the meeting was a great success.
The Rail Workers Hazardous Materials Training Program has scheduled new training programs for HAZMAT/Chemical Emergency Response for 2016. Three classes for RW Chemical Emergence Response are being offered in early 2016 in Houston. The RW Chemical Emergence Response class will be held Feb. 7-12, March 6-11 and April 24-29, 2016.
This training addresses OSHA and DOT required training in addition to procedures, different levels of response and worker protection in a hazardous materials emergency or release, weapons of mass destruction awareness and the incident command system. The training also provides completion of the OSHA 10-Hour General Industry Outreach requirements. The programs are delivered using interactive classroom instruction, small group activities, 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 five-day HAZMAT training course will provide rail workers the essential knowledge, skills, and response actions in the case of an unintentional release. These tools will allow rail workers to protect themselves, their co-workers and their communities.
The funding provides the following student expenses: air travel, lodging and meals. In addition, an incentive of $120.00 per day is available to all training participants of these programs, except those who are able to secure regular pay through their employer, or are paid union officers. Training will be conducted at the Houston Fire Department’s Val Jahnke Training Facility, 8030 Braniff Street Houston, TX 77061.
Programs begin Sunday evenings at 5:30 p.m. and conclude Fridays at 1:00 p.m. Students may be asked to travel on Saturdays to meet program start times or where substantial reductions in airfare warrant. When registering, please select dates in order of preference.Train-the-Trainer Instructor Training
The Rail Workers Hazardous Materials Training Program is also offering instructor training to be held April 3-9 and May 15-21, 2016. This course is designed to certify the student as a trainer for the DOT-HMIT (Hazardous Materials Instructor Training) Program.
The topics covered include DOT training requirements, placarding and labeling of Hazardous Materials, as well as other topics related to the safe transportation of hazardous material. Upon completion of this course, the student receives a card certifying them to teach the Practical Training Course.
The Rail Workers Hazardous Materials Training Program prides itself on providing the most valuable worker safety training available and peer trainers provide most of the training. A major goal of the Rail Program is to build a nationwide pool of skilled peer trainers to deliver hazardous materials training at their jobsites, union meetings and in their communities.
The DOT-funded HMIT consists of an eight-hour hazardous materials awareness course followed by five days of train-the-trainer instruction, providing participants the skills and knowledge necessary to deliver hazardous materials training at the local and regional levels.
The funding provides the following student expenses: Air travel, lodging and meals. In addition, an incentive of $175.00 per day is available to all training participants of these programs, except those who are able to secure regular pay through their employer, or are paid union officers. Training will be conducted at: Holiday Inn Houston-Hobby Airport, 8611 Airport Blvd, Houston, TX, 77061.
Programs begin Monday mornings and conclude Saturdays at 1:00 p.m.
Students will be required to travel/arrive on Sundays to meet program start times.
When registering, please select dates in order of preference when available.Modular Emergency Response Radiological Transportation Training
A training class is being offered June 5-8, 2016 in Chicago. Stay tuned for further details as they become available. Interested persons may register now for this program.
Click here to register for any of the classes listed above.
For phone inquiries please call (202) 624-6963, Monday through Friday, between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. EST.
RTW AND PAYCHECK deception will both be back in Missouri’s 2016 legislative session, Merri Berry, political director of the Missouri AFL-CIO, told attendees at last week’s Faith Labor Alliance Breakfast at Maggie O’Brien’s restaurant in St. Louis. With all five GOP contenders for Missouri governor supporting RTW, Berry said it’s essential that Democrat Attorney General Chris Koster, who is running to succeed Nixon, get elected.
Right-to-work and paycheck deception will likely be top of the heap when Missouri legislators begin pre-filing legislation for the 2016 session on Dec. 1.
Merri Berry, political director for the Missouri AFL-CIO, said sponsors of both bills this session have already said they plan to re-file the measures for the next session. How far they are willing to take the measures –whether they will make it out of committee or be voted on in the House and Senate – remains to be seen.
“We know they’re going to file right-to-work no matter what,” Berry said. “We just don’t know how far it’s going to go.”
(Stay up-to-date on the latest legislative efforts by signing up for our free weekly email newsletter!)
THE RACE FOR GOVERNOR
Voters’ pick for governor next year likely will determine whether Missouri becomes the 26th right-to-work state or remains a holdout in the national push for the measure despite being mostly surrounded by states that have adopted it.
All five GOP contenders for Missouri governor support right-to-work. They include Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, former state House Speaker Catherine Hanaway, businessman John Brunner, author and former Navy SEAL Eric Greitens and state Senator Bob Dixon of Springfield.
Kinder said in an email to supporters: “I remain committed to making Missouri the 26th right to work state in the nation.”
Three surrounding Midwestern states have enacted right to work in recent years with the support of Republican governors.
The difference in Missouri has been Democratic Governor Jay Nixon.
According to a new report from Pew Research, a nonpartisan nonprofit think tank based in Washington, DC, the American middle class has not only shrunk, but it has also lost 30 percent of the wealth it held a generation ago.
The report finds that in early 2015, 120.8 million adults could claim to be in the American middle class versus 70.3 million in lower-income and 51 million in upper-income households. While the number of Americans belonging to the middle class increased due to the natural progression that results from population growth, a bigger share of the population belonged to the middle class while holding a greater share of the total wealth. The study finds that the share of income held by middle-income families has plummeted to 43 percent in 2015 versus 6 percent of the wealth in 1971. The share of wealth held by lower income households remained stable during this time while the share of income held by upper income Americans has exploded to 49 percent of all total wealth in 2015 as opposed to the 29 percent share held in 1971.
The demographic and income data comes from the US Census Bureau’s “Current Population Survey” which serves as the basis of research on income and poverty issues.
In a letter dated Dec. 5, the National Mediation Board (NMB) certified the SMART Transportation Division as the official union of the train and engine service employees of the Central Maine & Quebec Railway (CMQR).
SMART TD invoked the services of the NMB Aug. 12, 2015, to investigate and determine who may represent the train and engine service employees of CMQR. These employees were previously unrepresented by a union.
NMB Investigator Cristina Bonaca held an election and out of the total 11 eligible employees, 10 voted for SMART TD representation, while one employee opted not to vote. Due to these results, Bonaca certified that SMART is the designated labor union and is authorized to represent CMQR train and engine service employees.
“Every department on this railroad that voted for representation: the carmen, maintenance of way, machinists, conductors and engineers bravely stood together and have chosen SMART TD as their representative. They believe that there is strength in numbers,” said SMART TD Organizer Larry Grutzius. “I was glad to be a part of their effort and to see how strongly these new members feel about taking the steps to gain fair compensation for their labor.”
“I’d like to thank Larry Grutzius for all the time and effort he put into winning this campaign,” Director of Organizing Rich Ross said. “We are looking forward to working with our brothers and sister on CMQR to help improve working conditions and their quality of life on the railroad.”
As of mid-October, the
largest U.S. railroads employed 165,606 people, down slightly from September's
level. But on a year-over-year basis, the workforce shrank 2.14 percent
compared with October 2014's level, according to data from the Surface Transportation Board.
On a month-over-month basis, the size of the total Class I workforce fell in four of the six employment categories: executives, officials and staff assistants, down 0.72 percent; maintenance of way (MOW) and structures, down 0.40 percent; maintenance of equipment and stores, down 0.40 percent; and transportation (train and engine), down 1.64 percent.
Two categories barely logged increases between mid-September and mid-October: professional and administrative, rose 0.05 percent, and transportation (other than T&E), inched up 0.37 percent.
On a year-over-year basis, workforce categories that posted decreases were transportation (T&E), down 6.31 percent; transportation (other than T&E), down 0.27 percent; and executives, officials and staff assistants, down 3.02 percent.
Worker categories that reflected increases year-over-year were professional and administrative, up 0.84 percent; MOW and structures, up 1.73 percent; and maintenance of equipment and stores, up 1.31 percent.
The IBEW has filed suit to prevent the implementation of new federal regulations on power plants. The IBEW petition joins the 27 states, several utilities and two other labor unions that are already challenging the regulation.[[PASTING TABLES IS NOT SUPPORTED]]
The Clean Power Plan regulations went into effect Oct. 23 and, for the first time, the Environmental Protection Agency will require states to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases from existing power plants. The final version of the rule would reduce national electricity sector emissions by an estimated 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.
The petition for review was filed Nov. 5 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and has already been combined with other challenges to the regulation, said Eugene Trisko, the lawyer representing the IBEW in the case.
“The EPA is creating energy policy and they have neither the expertise nor the legal authority to do it,” said International President Lonnie R. Stephenson. “We worked with the EPA for years to address greenhouse gas emissions with a plan that is both effective and legal. Unfortunately, we don’t believe this regulation is either.”
Stephenson said implementing this rule as written would be a disaster for working men and women and would disrupt the engine of our economy, a reliable power grid.
“Human-caused climate change is real, and a real threat, but focusing on power generation in isolation –leaving out industry, agriculture and transportation—ignores three-quarters of the problem,” Stephenson said. “Everyone will benefit from an effective response so everyone should share in the cost.”
Instead of simply requiring plants to increase efficiency using available technology, they have set a target of nearly 40 percent reduction in emissions from coal plants that would require shutting down production and, presumably, replacing it with natural gas, wind and solar generation that in many cases, does not exist.
“There is no economically feasible technology outside of a lab that would cut emissions nearly 40 percent,” said Utility Department Director Jim Hunter. “Ordering plants to shut down was a power never envisioned by the authors of the Clean Air Act and it has never been allowed by a court.”
Fundamentally, Hunter said, the EPA is trying to solve a problem well beyond its scope.
“I don’t question the goodwill of the EPA, just their authority to make this rule. I have been saying for years, this is a problem that only Congress can solve and they are just not doing their job,” said Hunter, who testified before Congress twice and met with EPA officials more than a dozen times during the writing of the Clean Power Plan.[[PASTING TABLES IS NOT SUPPORTED]]
Any plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Hunter said, will have to be economy-wide and include all the uses of energy from leaf blowers to manufacturing, cars and trucks, agriculture, building efficiency as well as power generation.
“This rule puts all the responsibility on the back of one industry and the working men and women who are employed there,” Hunter said.
The great risk, Stephenson said, is that if this regulation is enforced as written, it would shutter thousands more megawatts of reliable energy generation without any way of guaranteeing it would be replaced. More than 200 coal-fired power plants have already shut down in the last five years.
“Without that base load, it isn’t just lights, air conditioning, and computers that stop working. Without reliable electricity, our economy simply stops,” he said. “It won’t work, it isn’t fair, and we don’t think it is legal.”
Lawyers involved in the litigation expect the case to be heard and decided by the D.C. Court of Appeals in 2016. Ultimately, Trisko said there is a good chance the case will go to the Supreme Court with a decision by 2017 or early 2018.
“If the regulation is vacated and remanded to the EPA, the Obama Administration will be long over and it will be the next administration that will determine what should be done next,” Trisko said.
Contact: Office of Communications
OSHA publishes final rule for handling retaliation complaints from
workers in railroad and public transportation industries
WASHINGTON - The Occupational Safety and Health Administration today issued a final rule establishing procedures and time frames for handling employee retaliation complaints under the National Transit Systems Security Act and the Federal Railroad Safety Act. The final rule is effective Nov. 9, 2015.
NTSSA establishes protections against retaliation for public transportation agency employees who engage in whistleblowing activities related to public transportation safety or security. FRSA provides protections against retaliation for railroad carrier employees who report a work-related injury or engage in other whistleblowing activities related to railroad safety or security. These protections extend to employees of contractors and subcontractors who do work for public transportation agencies and railroad carriers.
Both provisions were enacted by the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007. FRSA was amended in 2008 to prohibit railroad carriers from denying, delaying or interfering with employees' medical or first aid treatment. The FRSA amendments also require that injured employees be promptly transported to the nearest hospital upon request.
"Railroad workers have the right to report injuries and to follow their doctor's treatment plans for injuries sustained in the course of their employment without fearing that they will be retaliated against," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "Railroad and public transit agency workers must never be silenced by the threat of losing their job when their safety or the safety of the public is at stake."
In 2010, OSHA published an interim final rule and requested public comments. The final rule responds to the comments, incorporates recent case law under the statutes and updates the rules to improve both employees' and employers' access to information about the case during OSHA's investigation and their ability to participate in OSHA's investigation.
OSHA's Whistleblower Protection for Public Transportation Agency Workers* and Whistleblower Protection for Railroad Workers* fact sheets explain who is covered under the acts, protected activity, types of retaliation and the process for filing a complaint.
OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of 22 statutes protecting employees who report violations of various securities, commercial motor vehicle, airline, nuclear power, pipeline, environmental, rail, maritime, health care, workplace safety and health, and consumer product safety laws and regulations. For more information, please visit 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 www.osha.gov.
U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The department's Reasonable Accommodation Resource Center converts departmental information and documents into alternative formats, which include Braille and large print. For alternative format requests, please contact the department at (202) 693-7828 (voice) or (800) 877-8339 FREE (federal relay).
Summary of the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015
Improving Our Infrastructure
· Provides certainty for state and local governments to undertake large-scale, complex transportation projects
· Provides flexibility for states to invest in bridge rehabilitation and replacement
· Eliminates red tape that slows down infrastructure improvements
· Streamlines the environmental review and permitting process to accelerate project delivery
· Provides more flexibility and decision-making to states and local governments to allow them to better address their priorities and needs
· Eliminates and consolidates offices within the Department of Transportation
· Establishes a National Surface Transportation and Innovative Finance Bureau to provide assistance to help state, local, and private sector partners move transportation projects forward
· Overhauls federal truck and bus safety grant programs and rulemaking processes
· Reforms truck and bus safety programs and eases administrative burdens on small businesses
Refocusing on National Priorities
· Facilitates commerce and the movement of goods by establishing a Nationally Significant Freight and Highway
· Provides flexibility to states to target driver safety grants on their pressing safety needs
· Consolidates truck and bus safety grant programs and provides state flexibility on safety priorities
· Promotes private investment in our surface transportation system
· Promotes the deployment of transportation technologies and congestion management tools that support an efficient and safe surface transportation system for all
· Updates federal research and transportation standards development to reflect the growth of technology in transportation
· Encourages the installation of vehicle-to-infrastructure equipment to reduce congestion and improve safety
· Improves truck and bus safety by accelerating the introduction of new transportation technologies
It was a great day for Missouri workers as the Missouri Legislature failed yesterday to override the veto by Governor Jay Nixon of so-called Right To Work(for less) legislation. The republican supermajority needed 109 votes but failed by a vote of 96-63; the legislators voting to sustain Gov. Nixon’s veto included 20 Republicans, 42 Democrats, and 1 Independent.
Missouri AFL-CIO President Mike Louis issued the following statement regarding the vote:
“Right to Work is wrong for Missouri, and its defeat today is a victory for all working people.”
“On behalf of working women and men in Missouri, I want to thank Governor Nixon for vetoing Right to Work. I also want to thank the members of the Legislature, Republicans and Democrats, who stood up to out-of-state corporate interests and voted to defeat Right to Work.”
The SMART Missouri State Legislative Board was privilege to work with a great group of labor leaders who spent tireless hours meeting with our friends in their districts since the end of the regular session in May. Since the end of session, with canvasing efforts, phone banks, urgent member meetings and local meetings nearly 20,000 letters, cards, phone calls and voice mails were delivered to legislators at the capitol.
This victory demonstrates the importance of elections and being involved in the political arena. Without a Democratic governor and grass roots efforts by our members to secure bipartisan support Missouri would be a right to work state today. Our friends on both sides of the aisle will need our help in winning their next election.
The victory will be short lived as the republicans have already said that they will introduce the legislation in the next session which begins January 6, 2016. With large donations from wealthy donors the Republican Party has vowed to finance campaigns against both our democratic and republican friends who made this victory possible.
I encourage all of our members to donate to UTU PAC and make sure you are registered to vote and then to vote for our friends who support our goals.
Missouri State Legislative Director
SMART-International Association of Sheet Metal Air Rail and Transportation Workers
September 14, 2015 by STCDems
Last Friday, the Republicans blatantly tried to intimidate one of their own to switch her vote on Right To Work (RTW).
For six years, Rep. Kathie Conway (104th House District) has steadfastly stood up to her party bosses and voted with the working people of her district by voting against Right To Work. Now, with the veto override session only days away there was a full page ad in the Post-Dispatch threatening Conway.
The ad all but called union leaders thugs and assumed Conway’s constituents weren’t intelligent enough to determine what is the real threat to their rights to bargain for a safer work place, wages, fringe benefits, and job security.
All Conway’s supporters need to ask themselves is this: Which situation is best for me? Do I want a work where my employer has dictatorial power over my life, or would I rather work where I know my employer will be held to fair and mutually agreed upon working conditions? Talk about a no brainer.
Conway isn’t the only one being threatened to desert their voters and side with those who are buying off Missouri’s legislature. The ad was placed by Americans For Prosperity which is simply a front for the employee hating, all I care about is me, Koch brothers.
The Koch brothers along with Missouri’s own “I want to be king”, Rex Sinquefield, have purchased power at the top of Missouri’s Republican legislature. Wentzville’s Rep. Bryan Spencer switched his vote from against RTW to supporting it when told by party leaders to fall in line. If he didn’t they threatened to find a primary opponent to run against him and fund that campaign with $200,000. The rumbling we hear coming from the east is Jefferson and Madison turning over in their graves.
The billionaire Koch brothers have promised to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to buy the next election and legislation which returns us to the days of the extreme robber barons. The Republican “Boss Hogs” know in order to keep their money trough full, they must break the backs of St. Charles Republican legislators. Along with Conway, Reps Hicks, Sommer, Cornejo, Korman and Zerr voted against the RTW. It’s time to pick up the phone and tell these people to support the average Joe’s, not the self –selected few who have become Republican party dictators. Tell them not to override the veto of HB116 staying true to their original votes.
By GOV. JAY NIXON
We celebrate Labor Day to honor American workers and the role they continue to play in creating a strong and prosperous nation. Labor Day reminds us that the rights won by the labor movement benefit all workers, and calls us to keep fighting to keep the American Dream alive for every Missouri family.
Skilled workers build our homes, teach our kids, keep our streets safe, and maintain our roads and bridges. Here in Missouri, skilled union labor builds the best-selling truck in America, the Ford F-150, and the 2015 Motor Trend Truck of the Year, the Chevy Colorado. Union hands build the F/A-18, the nation’s first strike-fighter that continues to fight terror and protect our servicemen and women around the globe.
Today, with our economy driven by the strength of the middle class, giving workers the freedom to make their voices heard is more important now than ever before. That is why Missourians can be proud that a bipartisan group of Democrats and Republicans in the Missouri General Assembly continue to stand firm in opposition to House Bill 116, the so-called “Right-to-Work” bill that I vetoed in June.
DIVISIVE SCHEME WITH A MISLEADING NAME
“Right-to-Work” is a divisive scheme with a misleading name. The truth is that House Bill 116 is simply another attempt by out-of-state special interests to undercut the wages of all workers and further tilt the balance of our economy away from the majority of Missourians. In states that have passed similar laws, workers make thousands of dollars less per year. This bill would also threaten the livelihoods of everyday heroes like cops, firefighters, nurses and teachers – hard working, dedicated men and women who are vital to the strength of our communities.
For generations, the ability of workers to join together and bargain collectively for fair wages and benefits has formed the foundation of the American middle class. It has lifted the living standards of working families everywhere – union and non-union. Now, just as our economy is picking up steam, “Right-to-Work” would take our state backwards by lowering wages and silencing the voices of workers.
Fortunately, there is a bipartisan coalition of Democrats and Republicans who see this bad bill for what it is: a dangerous distraction from the priorities that are moving our state forward – like balancing budgets, improving our local schools and making college more affordable.
SUSTAIN THE VETO
Over the past several months, I have talked to thousands of Missourians on both sides of the aisle and in all corners of the state who are urging the legislature to sustain my veto of House Bill 116 because they understand that a trained and capable workforce benefits all Missouri families.
When the General Assembly returns to the Capitol on September 16, I trust that members of the legislature will stand with the working men and women of our state, uphold my veto of House Bill 116, and continue building a stronger and more prosperous Missouri.
SURROUNDED BY UNION leaders, members and political allies, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon vetoed the Missouri Legislature’s anti-worker right-to-work measure (HB 116) June 4 in a ceremony at Sheet Metal Workers Local 36’s union hall and training center in St. Louis.
Earlier this year, a bipartisan group of legislators and Gov. Jay Nixon opposed a bill that would have made Missouri a “right to work” state.
The people of the state spoke out pretty clearly that they didn’t want this legislation, but that didn’t stop extremist legislators—funded by out-of-state right-wing billionaires—from calling a special session to override the governor’s veto of right to work.
Billionaires like the Koch brothers—with no ties to Missouri—are throwing hundreds of thousands of dollars on dirty ads to get legislators to switch sides and vote for right to work. Fighting back against that kind of money is never easy, but we have something they don’t have—the people. Missourians never asked for this legislation, and they don’t want it.
Right now, out of state corporate interests are pressuring our legislators to vote for ‘right-to-work’ laws.
‘Right-to-work’ is wrong for Missouri. Without collective bargaining, workers lose wages and the economy suffers.
Lower wages. An increase in workplace fatalities. Fewer health benefits for workers and families. Higher poverty rates.
That’s what ‘right-to-work’ would mean for Missouri.
The Safe Freight Act, H.R. 1763, which would require freight trains to be operated with a minimum of two individuals has laid dormant in Washington, DC. This is not all that surprising given the partisan gridlock in our nation’s capital.
For the record, two-person train crews are the norm today across North America. Reducing crews to a single person should not be left to a railroad’s discretion. Working on a railroad can be dangerous work so our union has always made workplace safety its top priority. A healthy freight rail system must balance safety and infrastructure requirements with its fiduciary duty to its shareholders.
In Missouri, 82 percent of residents support passage of a two-person crew bill according to a survey conducted by DFM Research on behalf of the SMART Transportation Division’s Missouri State Legislative Board. This is not a partisan issue, this is about the safety of Missouri and it's citizens.
SMART - Legislative Action Center
The SMART Transportation Division is making it easier for its members to make their voices heard in the nation’s capitol.
Our new Legislative Action Center enables members to learn about issues and legislation that directly impact their jobs and livelihoods and provides them easy access to contact their representatives to let them know their views.
Members can also see how their representatives voted on legislation, learn about upcoming elections in their state and even write a letter to the editor of their local newspaper.
WASHINGTON – As part of its ongoing investigation into the May 12, 2015, derailment of Amtrak Train 188 in Philadelphia, the NTSB today provides this update on the analysis of the engineer’s cell phone and related records.
The NTSB is conducting a detailed examination of the engineer’s cell phone calls, texts, data and cell phone tower transmission activity records from the phone carrier; and records from Amtrak’s on-board Wi-Fi system.
Analysis of the phone records does not indicate that any calls, texts, or data usage occurred during the time the engineer was operating the train. Amtrak’s records confirm that the engineer did not access the train’s Wi-Fi system while he was operating the locomotive.
To determine whether the phone was in “airplane mode” or was powered off, investigators in the NTSB laboratory in Washington have been examining the phone’s operating system, which contains more than 400,000 files of meta-data. Investigators are obtaining a phone identical to the engineer’s phone as an exemplar model and will be running tests to validate the data.
The engineer provided the NTSB with the passcode to the cell phone, which allowed investigators to access the data without having to go through the phone manufacturer.
Last year the NTSB lab processed about 80 personal electronic devices and more than 40 cell phones. The phone records analysis of the Amtrak 188 investigation has been more complicated than anticipated because the phone carrier has multiple systems that log different types of phone activity, some of which are based in different time zones. Investigators worked with the phone carrier to validate the timestamps in several sets of records with activity from multiple time zones to correlate them all to the time zone in which the accident occurred, Eastern Daylight Time.
NTSB’s Amtrak 188 accident webpage has links to all of the reports, videos, images, testimony and other related materials can be accessed: http://go.usa.gov/38MUB.
Today, the AFL-CIO released this year’s edition of its Executive Paywatch—the most comprehensive searchable database online that measures and tracks CEO pay. Last year, CEO pay for major U.S. companies—already considered exorbitant—increased nearly 16 percent.
While an S&P 500 company CEO averaged $13.5 million per year, the average production worker in the United States earned $36,000 per year—an alarming ratio of 373-to-1.
This 2015 edition of Paywatch (www.paywatch.org) shines its light on Walmart, where the CEO of the nation’s largest employer, Doug McMillon, earns $9,323 an hour. An entry-level Walmart employee earning just $9 an hour would have to work for 1,036 hours just to equal the pay McMillon earns in one hour. That’s nearly a half a year, assuming that employee works 40-hour weeks. The report also also delves into the wealth of the six Walton family members who have more combined wealth than the total wealth of 43 percent of America’s working families.
For more information on CEO pay, visit www.paywatch.org.
Charles Luna (1906 – 1 October 1992) was president of the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen (BRT) from 1963 until 1969. He became the first president of the United Transportation Union, when that organization was formed by merging the BRT and three other railroad unions in 1969.
Luna became president of the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen in 1963. On 1 January 1969 the BRT merged with three other unions to form the United Transportation Union. Luna became president of the combined union, with 230,000 members.In 1969 Luna was elected chairman of the Congress of Railway Unions.
In 1971 the UTU Insurance Association assumed the insurance and welfare plans of the brotherhoods who had formed the UTU. The UTU held its first national convention in August 1971 in Miami Beach. Al Chesser, National Legislative Director of the UTU, was elected to succeed Luna, who was retiring.
In 1970 Luna was chosen by President Richard Nixon to help form the National Railroad Passenger Corporation. This set up the Amtrak inter-city passenger service. Luna served as an Amtrak director for twenty years.
Amtrak’s highest safety honor is the Charles Luna Memorial Safety award, which has been presented annually since 1990.
Jeri Sopanen (14 August 1929 - 21 September 2008) was a Finnish-born American filmmaker who created movies, television series and commercials. He was five times nominated for an Emmy Award Prize and received the award once, a children's program called "The Rotten Truth".
Sopanen graduated from high school in Helsinki, studied composition at the Sibelius Academy in 1951 and received a Fulbright scholarship to the University of Lawrence United States. There he was inspired by the film and the film began studies at UCLA in Los Angeles.
Sopanen worked on "The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau" and made "Gardens of the World" with Audrey Hepburn.. He also served as cameraman for the Louis Malle film "My Dinner with Andre."
This film is part of the Periscope Film LLC archive, one of the largest historic military, transportation, and aviation stock footage collections in the USA. Entirely film backed, this material is available for licensing in 24p HD and 2K. For more information visit http://www.PeriscopeFilm.com
Brothers & Sisters,
We have until September 16 which is veto session, to
protect Missouri working families from the horrors of right to work.
Your help is needed now!
Governor Nixon is STILL wanting to hear Missouri workers’ opinion on right to work.
Our message is simple:
Call 573-751-3222 and thank the Governor for his veto of House
Have your family and friends
join the effort as we protect the working middle class.
Then comes the most important part!
Call or Write your State Rep and Senator and ask them to sustain the Governor's Veto of HB-116 on September 16th!
Tell them "NO OVERRIDE"
Please pass this on to as many people as possible.
Missouri State Legislative Director
SMART-TD's contract-carrier insurance bill sweeps Senate 51-0, would take effect Jan. 1.
(May 14)--House Bill 439, which would raise the uninsured/underinsured
motorist coverage on railroad crew members riding in contract-carrier
vehicles, passed the State Senate by a 51-0 vote.
The measure, which already passed the Illinois House on April 14 by a 108-4 vote, will now go to the Governor for his signing. With the Governor's signature the measure will take effect on January 1, 2016 and would increase minimum coverage for passengers riding in a contract-carrier vehicle from the current $250,000 to $500,000, with another incremental increase to $750,000 to take effect in 2020.