April 23, 2014

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Three actions announced by the FRA this month are intended to eliminate out-of-date duplicative paperwork for smaller railroads, as well as for engineers seeking dual engineer and conductor certification.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

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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

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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

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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

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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 [...]

Distractions kill, maim and end careers

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Distractions occur everywhere in our daily lives, but when those in safety sensitive positions are distracted on the job, the results too often result in death or career-ending injuries. A collaborative effort among the Federal Railroad Administration, rail labor and carriers has been launched to educate and raise awareness through peer-to-peer programs of the dangers [...]

Former Dem leader urges cooperation, compromise

U.S. Capitol Building; Capitol Building; Washington D.C.

One of labor’s strongest friends on Capitol Hill was Rep. Marty Frost, a centrist Democrat from Texas who served in the House of Representatives from 1979 to 2005, and who served two terms as chair of the House Democratic Caucus. Post Election Day, Frost wrote an opinion article published by The Hill, an independent newspaper [...]

Why Obama-Biden deserve your vote Nov. 6

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By James Stem – UTU National Legislative Director –  UTU endorsements for President of the United States and election to Congress are undertaken with considerable thought, responsibility and accountability. Prior to issuing these endorsements, we did an exhaustive job evaluating the candidates’ positions on transportation, collective bargaining, workplace safety, pensions and benefits, and Medicare. The endorsements [...]