October 21, 2014

Rail unemployment extended benefits to continue

The so-called fiscal cliff bill approved by the House and Senate Jan. 1 allows extended railroad unemployment benefits to continue through Dec. 31, 2013, with Congress appropriating $250,000 to the Railroad Retirement Board to administer those extended benefits under the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act. The extension affects those railroaders out of work at least six [...]

Rail random alcohol, drug test-rate static for 2013

Random alcohol and drug testing rates for railroad workers in safety sensitive positions will remain at the same rate during 2013 as 2012. The Federal Railroad Administration said that because the random alcohol testing violation rate has remained below 0.5 percent for the past two years, the minimum random alcohol testing rate will remain at [...]

FRA: Intensive conductor training essential

FRA logo

One of the strongest studies validating the need for two-person crews and intensive training for conductors has come from the Federal Railroad Administration. The conclusion is that the conductor and engineer function as a team, with managing multiple priorities essential to safe train operation – especially with regard to use of positive train control technology [...]

FRA to allow paperwork reduction

Three actions announced by the FRA this month are intended to eliminate out-of-date duplicative paperwork for smaller railroads, as well as for engineers seeking dual engineer and conductor certification.  Among the changes proposed: * Streamlining the process for certifying locomotive engineers by  allowing engineers to use a single medical certificate for both the conductor and engineer [...]

2012 a banner year for Amtrak

For Amtrak, Santa has been nice all year – if you forget the numerous and vicious attacks on Amtrak by outgoing House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica. As we look back on 2012, Mica’s attacks were primarily theater, for the benefit of his conservative base, with about as much chance of Amtrak funding [...]

Republican nominated to vacant NMB post

WASHINGTON – Nicholas C. Geale, a Republican staff member of the Senate Health, Education and Labor Committee, was nominated by President Obama Dec. 17 to be a member of the National Mediation Board, which administers the Railway Labor Act affecting railroads and airlines. If confirmed by the Senate, Geale would take the now vacant Republican seat [...]

Update on Amtrak negotiations

Amtrak Logo

UTU Amtrak conductors and yardmasters are currently in mediation with regard to an amended wage, benefits and working conditions agreement. The UTU and Amtrak are far apart on a few difficult issues. At this time, the parties are exploring alternative methods of interest-based resolution. This may or may not work. The UTU and Amtrak have [...]

New OSHA standards may affect flight attendants

OSHA logo; OSHA

The Federal Aviation Administration has issued a proposed policy statement to establish the extent to which OSHA regulations may apply to flight attendants onboard an aircraft in operation. An FAA-OSHA memorandum of understanding (MOU) previously established a team to identify factors to be considered when determining when OSHA standards may apply to employees on aircraft [...]

Amtrak Chair Carper gains boost from Senate leader

amtrak locomotive; amtrak car; amtrak

Amtrak Board Chairman Tom Carper has won endorsement from Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) for renomination by President Obama. That nomination would require Senate confirmation. Carper, a former mayor of McComb, Ill., has served on the Amtrak board since March 2008 and has been its chairman since January 2009. Said Durbin in his letter [...]

Amtrak’s future crucial to Rail Retirement financing

Stem

Stem “Every Amtrak employee should be placed in a productive position that supports the needs of customer service and managed growth of operations,” UTU National Legislative Director James Stem told Congress Nov. 28. “Amtrak operating crews are among the most productive workers in that system and our members are ready and eager to work,” he [...]