Local 306

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


Rail Safety Alert: It is time to lead - 10/16/2017

Rail Safety Alert: It is time to lead

In early 1998, a Federal task force was created to examine railroad switching fatalities. Coordinated by the FRA, this working group consisted of representatives from both rail labor and carrier industry management.

For 22 months they poured over data from the 76 switching deaths that occurred between 1992 and 1998, as well as reviewed the limited data collected from similar fatal events from 1975 – 1991. Every conceivable factor involving each member’s fatality was charted, analyzed and examined in this exhaustive effort to determine the factors that contributed to our deaths as railroad workers.

On October 28, 1999, the very first Switching Operations Fatalities Analysis (SOFA) report containing the Findings and Recommendations of this group was made public. Click here to view the first report.

This first SOFA report contained five major railroad operating recommendations designed to prevent critical injuries and fatalities among our craft, later titled the Five Lifesavers;” the very first recommendation – SOFA number 1 began with these two sentences:

Any crew member intending to foul track or equipment must notify the locomotive engineer before such action can take place. The locomotive engineer must then apply locomotive or train brakes, have the reverser centered, and then confirm this action with the individual on the ground.”  

Sound familiar?

Now, our members on CSX have been ordered by the carrier to go in between rail cars without establishing any such protection (3-step, Red Zone, etc.). Many have been told by carrier management that if they choose to use “3-step protection” they will be disciplined for delaying train departures. Yet over the past two decades, many of our members have been disciplined and terminated over alleged failures to obtain such protection when fouling tracks. 

This chaos imposed upon a good portion of our membership affects all of us. Couple this with today’s prevailing political philosophy against the supposed evils of regulatory oversight of corporations, especially concerning industrial occupational safety, and we are left with no other option except to empower ourselves to protect ourselves!

Further, it’s a pretty safe bet that all of us know someone who was injured or worse while railroading. We all understand the hazards associated with our line of work and we are all familiar with the old saying “the rules are written in blood.” Contrast this with the actions of CSX railroad management and their blatant intentional disregard of the safe working procedures that were brow beaten into our conscience from our first day in railroad training and we have no choice but to lead.

Our union’s structure is built upon our ability to look out for each other and each local has a legislative representative who is our first line of safety. LR’s were around long before the carriers started forming company-run safety committees. We must not rely upon the carriers for safety; we are the leaders in safety, always have been, always will be!

Your Safety Task Force encourages and urges you to work through your local LR’s to ensure unsafe conditions and practices are documented, reported and corrected.

And remember, your Safety Task Force is here for you! Email us any question, condition, unsafe trend etc.. and we will work to find a resolution. 

It is time to lead, 

SMART Rail Safety Task Force

email: s_taskforce@smart-union.org
https://smart-union.org/safety/smart-rail-safety-task-force 

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Coordinated Bargaining Group condemns interference in its ratification process - 10/16/2017

Coordinated Bargaining Group condemns interference in its ratification process

On October 6, 2017, the six Rail Unions comprising the Coordinated Bargaining Group (CBG) announced that they had reached a Tentative National Agreement with the Nation’s Freight Rail Carriers. Shortly after that announcement, a Union belonging to a different bargaining coalition began a campaign of misinformation, misrepresentation and outright falsehood in an effort to disrupt and undermine the democratic ratification process of the CBG Unions. This anti-union activity has included public letters replete with falsehoods, leaflets at TY&E on-duty points, also filled with falsehoods, and a social media campaign intended to negatively influence the ratification process of the CBG Unions. We can no longer stand by and allow this anti-union interference and disruption to go unchecked.

Before the Section 6 Notices were filed in late 2014, the Union now interfering in our ratification process was invited to join together with all unions to bargain jointly. That Union rejected this invitation, and set out on its own as the smallest of the three coalitions in the bargaining round. Without informing the other ten Unions at the table, that smaller coalition offered the railroads its own version of Plan Design Change to the Health Care plan. In its public contract offer in the Spring of 2017, that group offered Plan Design Changes valued by their own math at over $200,000,000.00 to the Carriers. It was only after the railroads rejected this proposal, absent the buy in of the other ten Unions, that this smaller coalition offered to share its proposals with the CBG Unions.

Contrary to what that group would now have you believe, only one of the ten other Unions in negotiations were ever invited to join the smaller coalition, and to date not one of those ten other Unions has signed onto the smaller coalition’s version of Plan Design Change.

That smaller group now argues that their Plan Design Proposal would cost you nothing; that is not a proven fact. Here are the facts:

  1. The Union interfering in your ratification process does not have the support of 10 other Unions at the bargaining table and they couldn’t care less what any other Union thinks.
  2. The Union interfering in your ratification process does not have an agreement with the railroads to even compare to the CBG Tentative Agreement. Proposals are not Agreements.
  3. Due to its failure to obtain an agreement, the Union interfering in your ratification process has publicly declared to the National Mediation Board that they are at an impasse in negotiations and have no plans to bargain further.
  4. Instead, the Union interfering in your ratification process has publicly stated that it plans to put its Healthcare dispute before the Federal Government for resolution, knowing that the current Congress is one of the most Corporate owned, anti-labor, anti-healthcare, Federal Governments in years.
  5. The Union interfering in your ratification process made the decision to put its own membership at risk in this way without allowing them to have any say through a ratification vote.
  6. The Union interfering in your ratification process wants you to vote no and join it before the Federal Government, and it does not care if your wages, benefits and work rules are put at risk.

Refraining from attacking another Union in the performance of its negotiating obligations is a core principle of Trade Unionism. The Union interfering in your ratification process does not have the same exposure to significant work rules changes that you do and has publicly stated that it does not care if your work rules are eliminated. The leaders of that Union at the highest level have been repeatedly asked to stay out of our ratification process, and they have refused.

This is the opposite of true Brotherhood; don’t be conned by their anti-union activities. Take the time to understand all your options and the risks associated with each, and then be sure to participate by voting in your ratification process, a process that the interfering Union does not think you are entitled to.

# # #

The Coordinated Bargaining Group is comprised of six unions: the American Train Dispatchers Association; the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (a Division of the Rail Conference of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters); the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen; the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers, and Helpers; the National Conference of Firemen and Oilers / SEIU; and the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers.

Collectively, the CBG unions represent more than 85,000 railroad workers covered by the various organizations’ national agreements, and comprise over 58% of the workforce that will be impacted by the outcome of the current bargaining round.


To view this release in PDF form, click here.

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Risch appears before STB, discusses excessive CSX train length - 10/11/2017

Risch appears before STB, discusses excessive CSX train length

Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers’ Transportation Division National Legislative Director John Risch appeared this morning (Wednesday, Oct. 11) before the Surface Transportation Board (STB) at a listening session about service disruptions caused by CSX’s move to excessively long trains.

Here are the remarks he delivered before the listening session:

I appreciate the opportunity to appear here today. My name is John Risch and I am the National Legislative Director for the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART TD). SMART TD – formerly the United Transportation Union – our union is the largest of the rail unions in an industry that is almost 90 percent organized.

On the CSX railroad I represent conductors, engineers, switchmen and yardmasters. In my brief time to comment today I will talk about how CSX’s move to excessively long trains has resulted in substantial service disruptions.

Freight trains in America are typically one to one-and-one-half miles long, but in recent months CSX has routinely been operating trains that are two and even three miles in length.

These excessively long trains cause all sorts of logistical problems that cause tremendous amounts of delay wherever they go.

  1. A three-mile-long train simply goes slower than a one-mile long train. It takes longer to start and get to top speed which is almost never the maximum allowable speed because they are simply too heavy and hard to handle. Slowing down for speed restrictions and getting back up to speed takes far more time.
  2. Most rail main lines in our nation are single-track, so when one train meets another train coming in the opposite direction one of the trains must pull into a siding to let the other train pass. There are very few sidings that are long enough to hold a 2-3-mile-long train, meaning if the long train takes the siding both trains must stop and there is what we call a “saw-by” causing significant delay.  If both trains are too long we have an incredible event called a “double saw-by” which can take hours for one to pass the other.
  3. Train operations require that the crew in the lead locomotive maintain constant communications with the rear locomotives or the device on the rear car of the train. When these communications fail the train is restricted to 30 mph and on grades of more than 2% the train is required to stop. The longer the train the more these communications fail.  This loss of communications is very common when trains go around curves or go over the tops of mountains.
  4. The longer the train the higher the probability of mechanical failure. More cars mean more problems. Excessively long trains are also far more likely to break-in-two which can cause hours of delay.  When there is a mechanical problem or break-in-two the trains conductor must walk back from the lead locomotive to deal with the problem.  When the train is two miles long or longer and the conductors’ portable radio oftentimes fails to communicate with the locomotive causing significant delay.  A train uses air for its braking system and the longer the train the harder it is to maintain adequate air in the system.
  5. Many CSX engineers have little to no experience operating these excessively long trains. We have many instances of these trains breaking in two and causing significant delays, including delaying an Amtrak train for 9 hours on a siding in Florida.
  6. When a train is too long to fit into a yard track the train must be separated and put on two or more tracks, adding to yard congestion and additional delay.
  7. The longer the train the more crossings that are blocked and they are blocked for longer periods of time. Causing safety concerns.  See letter from Indiana school.
  8. Crews cannot reliably hear the report of wayside defect detectors when trains exceed 12,000 feet. When that happens, the train must stop and follow procedures to make sure their train is safe to proceed.
  9. Required brake tests take longer on a long train. Some brake tests require the inspection of every car and walking a 3-mile-long train to the end and back is 6 miles. Add to that a portable radio that fails to transmit and the result is substantial train delay.
  10. Trains are too long for foreign line yards: for example, the Belt Railway of Chicago only accepts 8,000 foot trains. However, CSX has sent many 9,000+ foot trains there that have been rejected requiring the crew to divert to Barr Yard and set out enough cars to get down to the 8,000-foot maximum before returning to the BRC Yard.

The question of the day is: “What can the STB do about it?”

  1. We recommend that the STB immediately restrict train lengths to not exceed the length of the sidings on lines these trains operate on.
  2. Or at the very least conduct an investigation on the effect train lengths have on service and safety in the industry.

Urging CSX to do better will not fix the problems that excessively long trains cause.

I wrote the FRA last April asking for action on this issue and they have so far not even responded to my letter. They have no Administrator and are reluctant to do anything until they do.

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National Negotiations update: Coordinated Bargaining Group unions reach tentative national contract - 10/5/2017

National Negotiations update: Coordinated Bargaining Group unions reach tentative national contract agreement

Independence, Ohio, October 5 — Rail Unions making up the Coordinated Bargaining Group (CBG) announced today that they have reached a Tentative National Agreement with the Nation’s Freight Rail Carriers. The CBG is comprised of six unions: the American Train Dispatchers Association; the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (a Division of the Rail Conference of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters); the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen; the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers, and Helpers; the National Conference of Firemen and Oilers / SEIU; and the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART TD).

On Wednesday, October 4th, the CBG’s full Negotiating Team met in Independence, Ohio for a review of the terms of the proposed voluntary agreement. Following that review, each of the CBG Unions’ Negotiating Teams unanimously endorsed the Tentative Agreement. On Thursday, October 5th, the involved General Chairpersons of SMART TD, BRS and BLET met as well and those groups also unanimously endorsed the Tentative Agreement for consideration by the respective membership of each Union.

The Tentative Agreement, which will be submitted to the memberships of each involved Union in the coming weeks, includes an immediate wage increase of 4%, with an additional 2.5% six months later on July 1, 2018 and an additional 3% one year later on July 1, 2019. In addition, wage increases of 2% effective July 1, 2016 and another 2% effective July 1, 2017 will be fully retroactive through implementation, for a compounded increase of 9.84% over an 18-month period and 13.14% over the 5-year contract term (this includes the First General Wage Increase of 3% implemented on January 1, 2015).

All benefits existing under the Health and Welfare Plan will remain in effect unchanged and there are no disruptions to the existing healthcare networks. While some employee participation costs are increased, the tentative agreement maintains reasonable maximum out-of-pocket protections for our members. The TA also adds several new benefits to the Health and Welfare Plan for the members of the involved unions and, importantly, it requires that the Rail Carriers will, on average, continue to pay 90% of all of our members’ point of service costs.

On a matter of critical importance, the employees’ monthly premium contribution is frozen at the current rate of $228.89. The frozen rate can only be increased by mutual agreement at the conclusion of negotiations in the next round of bargaining that begins on 1/1/2020.

In addition, the CBG steadfastly refused to accept the carriers’ demands for changes to work rules that would have imposed significant negative impacts on every one of our members. As a result of that rejection, the Tentative Agreement provides for absolutely no changes in work rules for any of the involved unions.

“This Tentative Agreement provides real wage increases over and above inflation, health care cost increases far below what the carriers were demanding, freezes our monthly health plan cost contribution at the current level, provides significant retroactive pay and imposes no changes to any of our work rules,” said the CBG Union Presidents. “This is a very positive outcome for a very difficult round of negotiations. We look forward to presenting the Tentative Agreement to our respective memberships for their consideration.”

# # #

Collectively, the CBG unions represent more than 85,000 railroad workers covered by the various organizations’ national agreements, and comprise over 58% of the workforce that will be impacted by the outcome of the current bargaining round.

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Rail members: Healthcare open enrollment begins Oct. 1 - 9/28/2017

Rail members: Healthcare open enrollment 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, 2017, and ends Oct. 31, 2017, 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 https://www.yourtracktohealth.com.

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 2018,” located in the upper left corner of the screen.

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

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SMART-TD Local 306

 

Your Local Officers are here to protect you - help us all by calling when assistance is needed!  Don't settle for the carrier's attitutude - be involved!  A time claim is used to correct a violation of your contract - take the time to enter them and turn them in!

 

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

 

YOUR Union Meetings are:

Eagle Grove - Official Local Monthly Meeting - 2nd Wednesday of each Month; Godfather's Pizza at 18:30

Sioux City - 2nd Tuesday in February, May, August, November; Ramada Inn at 11:00

Mason City - as needed