SMART - TD Local 306

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


SMART TD supports FRA’s efforts to clarify vision standards - 1/25/2016

SMART TD supports FRA’s efforts to clarify vision standards

On Monday, January 25, John Previsich, president of SMART Transportation Division, filed a letter with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) in strong support of the FRA’s efforts to clarify vision standards and testing for locomotive engineers and conductors.  Read the complete article here.

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SMART TD opposes auto control systems in FRA letter - 1/22/2016

SMART TD opposes auto control systems in FRA letter

In a letter to the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) Associate Administrator for Safety Robert Lauby, SMART Transportation Division’s National Legislative Director John Risch called on the FRA to issue an emergency order prohibiting the use of auto control systems.

In his letter, Risch maintained that the FRA should regulate these systems, just as cell phones and interaction with Positive Train Control (PTC) systems currently are. Currently, Union Pacific Railroad is using Locomotive Engineer Assist/Display & Event Recorder (LEADER) and BNSF is using Trip Optimizer. 

Risch says that this technology may be in violation of the FRA final rule 49 CFR Part 220, which states “a railroad operating employee shall not use an electronic device if that use would interfere with the employee’s or another railroad operating employee’s performance of safety-related duties.”

Risch does point out that the rule does not include electronic control systems and information displays within the locomotive. However, interaction with LEADER and Trip Optimizer systems is not a safety-related task and does pose a risk of distracting the crew from safety-related tasks. 

Auto control systems are mechanisms to reduce fuel and operating costs through increased efficiency. 

Click here to read Risch’s letter to the FRA in its entirety.

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Risch: Make sure you’re registered to vote! - 1/8/2016

Risch: Make sure you’re registered to vote!

Dear Member,

How often have you heard the phrase, “this is the most important election in our lifetime?” Plenty, I’m sure. The truth is, every election is important, with the stakes being higher in a presidential election year — especially for rail, transit and airline workers and retirees who are directly impacted by administration regulations and Congressional votes.

There is still plenty of time to scrutinize the candidates and determine who will best represent our members, retirees and their families on our issues of concern. But now is the right time to ensure that you and your family are registered to vote at your current address, especially if you moved recently.

One of the simplest ways to verify your voter registration, or register to vote, is to visit the SMART TD Legislative Action Center. The following link will take you directly to the voter information page; just click on your state for complete information: http://www.congressweb.com/smart_transportation/voterinformation

I am proud to say that SMART TD members are more likely to be registered to vote, and more likely to vote, than the general public. Research shows that members consistently have a turnout rate of 10 to 20 percentage points higher than the average American worker or retiree. That means power at the ballot box. Although we are doing better than most, we still have room for improvement.

That is where you come in. If you are registered to vote, make a commitment to get your entire family registered; and if not currently registered to vote, make the commitment to register to vote – the future of working families may depend on it.

 In Solidarity,

 John Risch

National Legislative Director
SMART Transportation Division

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Safety Alert: shotgun shell found in locking pin - 12/15/2015

Safety Alert: shotgun shell found in locking pin

Canadian Pacific Railway recently reported that a shotgun shell was found in the locking pin of the coupler on the Quebec Gatineau Railway (QGRY) in Quebec.

“This type of mischief has potentially fatal consequences and serves as a reminder that employees must always be aware of their surroundings, perform thorough equipment inspections and report any suspicious activity immediately to CP police for further investigation,” CP said in a safety alert.

“Situational awareness, knowledge of equipment and compliance with safety procedures are key elements in performing tasks safely. Should you encounter a similar condition as described above, please protect the hazard and report it to your supervisor immediately.”

safety alert

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SMART TD praises passage of FAST Act - 12/4/2015

SMART TD praises passage of FAST Act

On December 3, 2015, Congress passed H.R. 22, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST ACT) by overwhelming bipartisan votes of 83 to 16 and 359 to 65 in the Senate and House respectively. The legislation is the first long-term surface transportation reauthorization in a decade and provides funding and policy changes for our nation’s highways, mass transit and rail systems. This landmark legislation includes a number of SMART TD policy priorities, many of which are outlined below.

“I’m very pleased with the legislation overall compared to some of the original proposals. The legislation was modified in both houses and in the conference committee to correct many of the harmful issues facing our membership,” SMART TD President John Previsich said.

“Our National Legislative Director John Risch and his team, working with other unions and allies did a stellar job on a very complex 1300-page piece of legislation that was passed through a very complicated legislative process.

“In difficult economic and political times, an effective legislative department makes all the difference and we have one of the best in the business.”

“Considering the makeup of the Congress, overall we are pleased with the policy provisions in this legislation, and that the law covers five years of authorization,” said Risch. “However, we are disappointed that much of the funding came from non-user fees. Freight railroads alone fund their own track and infrastructure. Using general funding for highways puts railroads at a competitive disadvantage because trucks are not paying their fair share of costs for highway construction and maintenance.”

Provisions to protect transit members from assault
  • Section 3022. Improved Public Transportation Safety Measures
  • This much-needed section will better protect our transit members by requiring the Federal Transit Administration to promulgate regulations to protect public transportation operators from assault.
  • The rulemaking will be required to consider the safety needs of drivers in different modes, including bus and light rail.
  • This provision was a direct result of a joint lobbying effort by SMART TD, the AFL-CIO’s Transportation Trades Department (TTD), AFL-CIO, the Transport Workers Union (TWU) and the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU).
ECP brake mandate is maintained
  • The legislation largely protects the May 2015 Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) rule that requires the use of electronically controlled pneumatic (ECP) brakes on certain high-hazard flammable trains (HHFTs), which SMART TD strongly supports.
  • While the legislation does require another study on ECP brakes, it also includes language supported by SMART TD that will ensure testing is done independently and objectively, and not by the railroads or other entities affected by the rule.
  • Additionally, the legislation neither prohibits DOT from moving forward with the May 2015 rule while the study is in progress, nor does it require DOT to issue a new rule dependent on the study’s findings.
  • The original Senate Commerce Committee language would have repealed the ECP rule and replaced it with a railroad-dominated study.
Inward-facing cameras cannot be used to retaliate against employees.
  • Working with Senator Richard Blumenthal (D – Conn.), SMART TD secured a provision stating that any in-cab audio or image recording obtained by a railroad carrier under this section may not be used to retaliate against an employee. Rail Subcommittee Chairman Jeff Denham (R – Calif.) reinforced this provision by specifically mentioning it in a House floor speech.
  • We are pleased the final bill removed a requirement for efficiency testing.
Removed harmful privatization language for transit projects
  • Working with TTD and other transit unions (TWU and ATU), SMART TD helped strip a harmful privatization provision from the legislation. The provision would have been an unprecedented giveaway to the private sector by allowing certain public-private partnerships to move to the front of the line for grant awards simply because the project included private money, with no minimum threshold.
  • This provision – if not changed – could have resulted in lost jobs, lower wages and diminished passenger rail and transit service.
Biased hair testing methods rejected
  • SMART TD has strongly opposed the unfair and biased use of hair testing for drug tests.
  • SMART TD strongly opposed previous versions of this legislation that would have allowed companies to immediately begin testing an employee’s hair for drugs.
  • The final legislation would only allow companies to do so after experts at the Department of Health and Human Services have set guidelines for such testing.
Tank car safety standards
  • The legislation makes substantial improvements in tank car standards by requiring that all new tank cars are equipped with one-half inch thermal blankets.
  • All existing DOT-111 tank cars transporting flammable liquids are required to be upgraded to retrofit standards regardless of product shipped.
Alerters
  • The legislation requires DOT to promulgate a rule requiring working alerters in the controlling locomotive of each commuter and intercity passenger train.
Signal Protection
  • The legislation requires DOT to initiate a rulemaking for redundant signal protection for Maintenance of Way (MOW) workers.
PTC Grants
  • The legislation provides $199 million to finance a competitive grant program for PTC implementation on commuter railroads.
Funding: Amtrak and Transit
  • Transit programs will receive a 9 percent funding increase in Fiscal year 2016 over FY 2015 levels and 2 percent increases each year through 2020.
  • Amtrak is funded through the appropriations process; however, this legislation increases authorized FY 2016 funding levels for Amtrak by $60 million.
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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 February, May, August, November; Ramada Inn at 11:00

Mason City - as needed