SMART - TD Local 306

Serving Sioux City, Mason City & Eagle Grove on UPRR Former C&NW Lines

Clarifying OSHA’s rule on whistleblower retaliation - 11/16/2015

Clarifying OSHA’s rule on whistleblower retaliation

Earlier last week, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a final rule covering railroad whistleblower cases and employer retaliation. The rule serves to clarify whistleblower protections already in place and establishes procedures and time frames for handling employee retaliation complaints covered under the National Transit Systems Security Act (NTSSA) and the Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA).

The final rule stipulates and clarifies the following:

  1. Prompt medical treatment violations or interference with medical treatment cases will be handled procedurally the same way as all other whistleblower cases.
  2. A refusal to allow an employee to return to work, which is not based on standards recorded in the railroad’s official policies, not uniformly applied or not medically reasonable, can be offered to demonstrate that the refusal is not a legitimate safety concern, but rather motivated by retaliatory intent.
  3. The time limit to file a whistleblower complaint is 180 days after the railroad’s decision has been made and communicated to the employee. To clarify this is when the employee is aware or should be aware of the decision, not when the employee learns of the retaliatory nature of the action.
  4. A contributing factor for a retaliatory action is that the adverse action must take place within a temporal time of the protected activity, or at the first opportunity available to the retaliating manager. That can be a number of years between the protected activity and the retaliatory actions in situations where the manager did not have the opportunity to retaliate until a later time.
  5. Interest on awarded back pay will be computed by compounding daily IRS interest rates for the underpayment of taxes, which is currently the Federal short-term rate plus three percent.
  6. Front pay is a potential remedy where reinstatement is not possible because of the unacceptable working relationship, the position has been abolished or the employee is medically unable to work because of severe depression caused by the retaliation.
  7. OSHA has the authority to grant injunctive relief such as expunging certain personnel files, not applying a policy to an employee, posting a notice regarding a whistleblower result, training for managers, etc.
  8. Hearsay evidence is admissible.
  9. An employee filing a complaint in district court must give notice to OSHA within seven days after filing the complaint.
  10. An employee may file both a whistleblower and a FELA complaint at the same time. If violations of other laws are involved, employees may also file those complaints at the same time. 
OSHA issues final rule on retaliation, whistleblowing - 11/10/2015

OSHA issues final rule on retaliation, whistleblowing

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 (NTSSA) and the Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA). 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

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

National negotiations update - 10/21/2015

National negotiations update

Members of rail labor’s Coordinated Bargaining Group (CBG), composed of representatives from the SMART Transportation Division, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, the American Train Dispatchers Association, the National Conference of Firemen and Oilers/SEIU, The Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen and the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers met with the National Carriers Conference Committee (NCCC) in Chicago on October 14, 2015, to continue negotiations on a new national rail contract. This meeting was the latest in a series that commenced early in 2015.

Although a final agreement is not yet in sight, substantive progress was made in identifying the issues of greatest importance to both sides and serious discussions are ongoing. Both parties believe that a voluntary agreement is the desired outcome and to that end it was agreed to continue negotiations without the assistance of a third party. The next session is scheduled for November in Crystal City, Virginia, with additional meetings set for the first quarter of 2016.

Healthcare open enrollment online begins Oct. 1 - 9/28/2015

Healthcare open enrollment online begins Oct. 1

Railroad employees covered under the National Railway Carriers/UTU Health and Welfare Plan or the Railroad Employees’ National Health and Welfare Plan are being mailed a notification of the online open enrollment period that begins Oct. 1, 2015, and ends Oct. 31, 2015 at midnight. The enrollment site is available 24/7 during the enrollment period. The information should be specific to the current enrollment for you and your eligible dependents.

The online enrollment capability provides the ability to view your personal information, add, delete and update dependent information, view enrollment materials, enroll in benefits for next year, and receive an immediate confirmation statement. There is no need to mail in a paper enrollment form. However, if you need assistance, have questions or require a paper enrollment kit, call Railroad Enrollment Services at 800-753-2692.

The enrollment website can be found at

You are encouraged to visit the online enrollment site and review all the information available. Use the login instructions at the end of this article to access and review your personal information and spend some time learning about the benefits and resources available on the site.

You will also be able to search medical provider networks.

It is required that covered dependent Social Security numbers (SSN) be provided to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Please supply the missing SSN on the Dependent Information screen.

If you are currently enrolled in the Health Flexible Spending Account, the election and yearly contribution will not rollover to the new plan year. You must enroll in your Health Flexible Spending Account every year.

  • Click “Login” located in the upper right corner of the screen.
  • If you have already registered, enter your username and password.
  • If you have not yet registered, select “New User?” at the bottom of the screen to complete your registration.

Once logged in, select the option to “Enroll Now for 2016,” located in the upper left corner of the screen.

Click here to view more information on the flexible spending account.

Dems. roll-out new pro-union bill - 9/18/2015

Dems. roll-out new pro-union bill

Days after the Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker announced his plan to get rid of the National Labor Relations Board, Democratic lawmakers are rolling out a plan to strengthen the government agency. The bill, introduced on Wednesday, will also serve as a litmus test to Democrats vying for union endorsements in the 2016 presidential election.

The Wage Act, which stands for Workplace Action for Growing Economy Act, is being sponsored by Washington senator Patty Murray and Virginia congressman Bobby Scott.

“Too often, as workers are underpaid, overworked, and treated unfairly on the job, some companies are doing everything they can to prevent them from having a voice in the workplace,” Murray said in a statement. “The Wage Act would strengthen protections for all workers and it would finally crack down on employers who break the law when workers exercise their basic right to collective action.”

Read more from The Guardian


SMART UTU Local 306


No job is so important, no service is so urgent that we cannot take the time to perform our work safely!


With AWTS boards being cut, ask a Local Chairman your questions about work and health/unemployment benefits


Your Local Officers are here to protect you - help us all by calling when you need assistance!  Don't settle for the carrier's attitutude toward you - be involved!


YOUR Union Meetings are:

Eagle Grove - 2nd Wednesday of each Month; Godfather's Pizza at 8:00 pm

Sioux City - 2nd Tuesday in March, June, September, December; Ramada Inn at 11:00

Mason City - as needed