ALL LOCAL UNIONS SYSTEM COUNCIL NO. 2
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
To follow up with my second quarter report, I am pleased to report that AGC David Starkjohann completed physical therapy for the injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident in June of this year and has resumed
full duties with the System Council. Also, VGC Don Tortorice underwent knee replacement surgery in July. Following some initial complications and a couple months of recovery, Don is doing well and has recently
resumed full duties with the System Council.
On September 30, 2015, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee leaders introduced bipartisan legislation to extend the deadline for the nation’s railroads to implement Positive Train Control (PTC) technology. Based on the Congressional mandate, freight railroads carrying certain toxic materials as well as passenger and
commuter railroads must implement PTC technology by December 31, 2015. However, most freight and commuter railroads have reported that they will not be able to meet the deadline, and require more time to
complete implementation. The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman stated that completion of the PTC mandate by the end of the year is not achievable, and extending the deadline is essential to preventing significant disruptions of both passenger and freight rail service across the country. It has been noted that without an extension, freight railroads will be forced to suspend shipments of certain chemicals; commuter railroads will need to cease operations, significantly impacting commutes in major metropolitan regions; and all Amtrak service outside of portions of the Northeast Corridor will be suspended. The Federal Railroad Administration and the Government Accountability office have also previously recommended extending the PTC deadline. The Positive Train Control Enforcement and Implementation Act of 2015, extends the deadline to fully implement the
technology to the end of 2018; provides limited authority to extend the deadline beyond 2018; and requires railroads to complete progress reports on implementation.
Negotiating sessions with the nations freight Railroads have been ongoing over the past several months. As pointed out by IBEW Railroad Director Bohne’, it appears that the Railroads’ main concern is reducing their Health and Welfare (H&W) costs, containing future cost increases, and concerns with the “Cadillac Tax” due to go in effect in 2018. In past sessions, our discussions centered on how to move forward and a subcommittee was formed to look into H&W issues. During the September meetings, we provided the railroads a wage proposal together with suggestions for a couple minor modifications to help contain H&W costs, none of which would have much, if any, impact on benefits or costs. The railroads were also advised that any modifications would be predicated on future wage increases. However, following our October meetings it was determined that the railroads had not accepted our proposals and that little or no progress had been made towards reaching an agreement to this point. Therefore, our coalition unions decided to request that the National Mediation Board
(NMB) invoke mediation. On the date of October 16, 2015, IBEW International President Lonnie Stephenson submitted applications for Mediation Services. On October 21, 2015, the NMB assigned the Mediators and the initial Mediation session was scheduled for November 3, 2015. I will continue to keep you advised with any updates as they become available to this office.
* During the week of July 6th, I attended the Convention of IBEW System Council No. 16.
* On the date of July 14th, I met with UPRR Labor Relations to discuss some outstanding issues and claims.
* On the date of July 15th, AGC Shell, AGC Reynoso, and I attended a UPRR Telecommunications Department business meeting.
- * During the week of July 27th, I attended the National Freight Railroad negotiations.
- * During the month of July, AGC-ST Shell and I finalized the System Council 990 and LM reports. AGC-ST Shell continued to work with the accountant to complete our 2015 financial audit.
* During the month August, the System Council began pursuing further action and research regarding the use of contractors performing locomotive PTC installations.
* During the week of August 10th, AGC Shell and I toured the KCS Shreveport locomotive facility and met with local management as well as the officers of Shreveport, Local 1829.
* During the week of August 24th, AGC Shell assisted with work in the System Council office.
* On August 28th, AGC Shell attended a meeting with the financial officers of Local Union 942, Fort Worth, Texas.
* During the month of August, AGC Starkjohann returned to work, began assisting the Telecomm and Engineering Department members with various issues, and attended the monthly membership meeting of Omaha, Local 618.
* During the first week of September, AGc Shell and I attended a Shopcraft General Chairman Coalition meeting with UPRR Labor Relations and Mechanical Department personnel.
* During the week of September 15th, AGc Shell, AGC Reynoso and I attended the IBEW Membership Development Conference.
* AGC Starkjohann assisted Kansas City, Local 807 with a disciplinary investigation
* AGC Reynoso began preparation to assist San Antonio Local 1911 with a disciplinary investigation.
Throughout the third quarter, the System Council staff and I have been busy assisting the local unions with day to day issues and a growing number of claim and grievance appeals. Over the past several months, there has been an increase in UPRR disciplinary investigations based on charges that employees allegedly tampered with, or in some way, disabled the locomotive inward facing cameras. As a result, the System Council staff has had numerous discussions with Labor Relations as well as the Mechanical Department in order to try and
rectify this matter to avoid further discipline charges. Nonetheless, this will serve to advise that under no circumstances, unless specifically instructed by a work order and/or shop supervision, should a membertamper with or attempt to disable the locomotive inward facing cameras. If you have any questions please feel free to contact the System Council representative assigned to your location.
Finally, this will advise that the funding was recently approved by the National Mediation Board in order to present cases before Public Law Board 7001 involving disputes with the Union Pacific Railroad. We are currently prepared to present the cases before the PLB on October 28, 2015. The Claimants and aplicable local unions will be updated as the decisions are rendered.
With best wishes, I remain
cc: IVP’s SC #2
Bill Bohne, Dir of Railroads