Dear Sisters and Brothers:

A recent interpretation was issued by the U.S. Department of Labor   Wage and Hour Division clarifying the definition of a “son or daughter”    with regard to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). FMLA
entitles eligible employees to take up to twelve weeks of leave each
year for specified family and medical reasons. This includes the birth or placement of a son or daughter for adoption or foster care, and/or the care of a son or daughter with a serious health condition. The Act defines  “son or daughter” as a biological, adopted, or foster child, a stepchild, a legal ward, or a child of a person standing in loco parentis,who is under 18 years of age; or 18 years of age or older and incap-
able of self-care because of a mental or physical disability. The recent Interpretation has now made it clear that the meaning of “a person standing in loco parentis” is to be interpreted broadly and may encompass, among others, grandparents who are responsible for providing care to a grandchild. The Administrators interpretation emphasizes that the Act was intended to apply not just to biological parents but also those who “are not the biological parents of the chil-
dren they care for, but their adoptive, step or foster parents, their guardians, or sometimes simply their grandparents or other relatives or adults.”

(See attached – Administrator’s Interpretation No. 2010-3) FMLA Interpretation

             Effective July 1, 2010, the National Mediation Board’s
(NMB) voting procedures for securing representation under the Rail-
way Labor Act were changed to include a “No” option and to provide
that a majority of valid votes cast would determine the outcome of
an election, rather than a majority of votes from the entire craft or
class. The new procedures only apply to applications filed on or after
July 1, 2010.

In July, a second notice was issued by Railroad Enroll-
ment Services to any railroad employee under the National Health
and Welfare Plan who had not responded to requests to furnish
Social Security numbers for dependent(s) whose number was missing. Federal Law now requires the reporting of Social Security Numbers
for covered dependents to the Centers for Medicare & Medi-
caid Services. This includes participants of all medical plans,
including the Railroad Employees National Health & Welfare Plan.
Thus, for any dependent that was newly added to the Plan
between January 1, 2009 and May 31, 2010, the dependent
social security number should have been provided to Rail-
road Enrollment Services by July 31, 2010, to avoid disenrollment
from the Plan effective July 31, 2010. For dependents that were added
to the Plan before January 1, 2009, the dependent social
security number must be provided to Railroad Enrollment Services
by January 31, 2011, to avoid disenrollment from the Plan
effective January 31, 2011. Therefore, I encourage any member who
has not complied with the foregoing to do so in order to avoid any loss
in dependent coverage. Railroad Enrollment Services may be
reached at 800-753-2692.

During the July negotiating session, the National Bargain-
ing Coalition consisting of the IBEW, IAM, TCU, TWU and ATDA
met with the National Carriers Conference Committee (NCCC) in
an ongoing effort to resolve the wage, rules, and benefits dispute.
Prior to this session, the Rail Labor Organization’s decided that since
no progress was being made, the coalition would advise the Rail-
roads that we were at an impasse and further negotiating
conferences would be futile. On the date of July 15, 2010,
IBEW International President Edwin D. Hill notified the parties of
an impasse and requested that the National Mediation Board
(NMB) invoke their services and move the parties’ into mediation.
A Mediator was thereafter assigned and on the dates of September
15th & 16th, mediation discussions commenced between the parties’. The bargaining coalition is scheduled to continue discussions on
the date of October 19, 2010, and have secured further dates through-out the remainder of the year. I will continue to keep you advised with
any updates. (See attached – IBEW Rail Department “National
Freight Railroads Bargaining Update”)

The Department of Transportation (DOT) “Office of Drug
and Alcohol Policy and Compliance” recently issued a final
rule concerning procedures with DOT Drug Testing effective October
1, 2010. (See Attachment)

July 2010

**During the month of July, I finalized two third party submissions scheduled for arbitration before the Third Division of the National Railroad Adjustment Board.

**During the week of July 5th, I attended the National Freight Railroad Bargaining session between the Bargaining Coalition and the NCCC.


  • On the date of July 28th, VGC Shell and I met with AGC
    Dave Starkjohann to discuss third party arbitration and
    other issues affecting the Telecommunication Department.
  • On the date of July 29th, VGC Shell and I met with UPRR
    Labor Relations in Omaha to address various outstanding issues.
  • On July 30th, VGC Shell, AGC Starkjohann, and I met with
    UPRR Labor Relations and General Director Telecom
    Neal Spencer in Omaha to discuss Positive Train Control (PTC)
    and numerous other issues affecting the Telecommunications Department.
  • During the month of July, AGC Tortorice assisted several
    local unions with disciplinary investigations.

August 2010

  • On August 9th, AGC Shell and I attended the monthly meeting
    of Local Union 942.
  • During the week of August 16th, the System Council staff and I finalized our docket for disputes to be heard before Public
    Law Board 7001 on September 22nd involving Union
    Pacific Railroad.
  • On August 24th, VGC Shell and I met in Chicago for Third
    Party Arbitration before the Third Division of the National Rail-
    road Adjustment Board.
  • On the date of August 26th, VGC Shell met with local manage-
    ment at the UPRR Pine Bluff, Arkansas Locomotive facility to
    discuss manpower and future staffing issues.

September 2010

  • During the week of September 7th, AGC Tortorice attended
    the IBEW Membership Development Conference in Los Angeles, California.
  • During the week of September 13th, VGC Shell and I attended
    a Shop Craft General Chairmen’s meeting with Union
    Pacific Mechanical Department and Labor Relations personnel in
    Omaha, Nebraska.
  • On the date of September 22nd, AGC Tortorice, VGC Shell, and I attended arbitration before Public Law Board 7001 with
    Union Pacific Railroad.
  • On the dates of September 23rd & 24th, the System Council
    staff and I attended the annual meeting of the National Association
    of Railroad Referees (NARR) in Chicago, IL. On September 23rd, I also attended third party arbitration before the Third Division of
    the National Railroad Adjustment Board.
  • On September 28th – 30th, I attended the IBEW Seventh
    District Progress Meeting in Phoenix, AZ.

The System Council staff and I are currently preparing a Disciplinary Investigation manual and training presentation for local chairmen and committeemen. Once it is complete, the plans are to provide various training dates for those local representative(s) who are interested.

As a reminder, the deadline for applying for the Union
Scholarship is January 31, 2011. The scholarship is available
to the child dependents of IBEW members and other AFL-CIO affil-
iate unions. The application can be accessed online
at http://www.unionplus.org/benefits/education/scholarships/up.cfm.

Please find the following attachments for your review
and dissemination:

  1. RRB Labor Member Speakman’s letter – July 2010 publication;
  2. RRB Labor Member Speakman’s letter – August 2010 publi-
  3. RRB Labor Member Speakman’s letter – September
    2010 publication
  4. RRB Scheduled Informational conferences;
  5. RRB job vacancy list;
  6. US DOL Administrator’s Interpretation No. 2010-3;
  7. DOT Drug and Alcohol Testing rule changes effective October
    1, 2010;
  8. IBEW Rail Department “bargainingupdate

With best wishes, I am

Fraternally yours,

Jim Wisniski
General Chairman




Cc:      IVP’s System Council 2

Bill Bohne, Director of Railroads