ALL LOCAL UNIONS                               


Dear Brothers and Sisters:

The Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) ban on the use of
cellphones and other electronic devices became permanent on March
28, 2011. The ban prohibits the use of an electronic device, whether
personal or supplied by the carrier, if it interferes with the employee’s or
another employee’s performance of safety-related duties. For more
information, please find the enclosed attachment outlining the highlights
of the ban.

Synthetic marijuana, commonly referred to as K-2/Spice, has now
been declared a Schedule I controlled substance drug. Schedule I drugs
are considered by the Federal Government to have no legitimate
medical use. Therefore, on March 1, 2011, the Drug Enforcement
Administration (DEA), U.S.Department of Justice issued its Final Order
as set forth in the Federal Register. This action is based on a finding by
the Administration that the placement of these synthetic cannabinoids
into Schedule I is necessary to avoid an imminent hazard to the public
safety. (See attached – DEA Federal Register Final Order)

In my 2010 Fourth Quarter report, I advised that the National
Bargaining Coalition consisting of the IBEW, IAM, TCU, TWU and
ATDA, petitioned the National Mediation Board (NMB) for release from
mediation in negotiations with the nations freight railroads. Thereafter,
the NMB advised that they would not release us as they felt the time for
release and proffer of arbitration was premature. Following the NMB’s
denial for release, the bargaining coalition met again with the mediator
and the railroads, the last session being held on January 25, 2011.
During this session the mediator suggested two different settlement
proposals which failed to lead to agreement. At this time it was obvious
that further mediation would be unproductive and the mediator cancelled
the mediation session for January 26th and did not schedule any further
sessions. He advised that he would notify the NMB, that in his opinion,
the parties were at impasse. Following the January 25th session, the
IBEW along with the other Coalition Unions, petitioned the NMB a
second time advising that the parties are at impasse and again
requesting release and proffer of arbitration. The NMB has now
scheduled a special session at the NMB offices in Washington DC for
the dates of April 5th & 6th. I will continue to keep you advised with any

(See attached – National Bargaining 2-18-11)          

January 2011

  • During the week of January 10th, VGC Shell, AGC Tortorice and I
    toured the Union Pacific West Colton and City of Industry,
    California locomotive facilities. Also, in preparation for the
    upcoming Positive Train Control project, we attended a
    presentation at the City of Industry facility concerning training and
    certification for the installation and maintenance of the locomotive
    PTC equipment.
  • On the dates of January 25th – 27th, the System Council staff and I
    met at the Council office to discuss our outstanding claims and
    other issues affecting the membership as well as our 2011
  • March 2011
    • During the week of March 1st, AGC Tortorice attended the 2011
      IBEW 9th District Progress meeting.
    • On the date of March 4th, I met with Fort Worth Local 942
      President Rex Davis.
    • On the date of March 8th, VGC Shell, AGC Tortorice and I attended
      a Non-Operating General Chairmen’s meeting with various Union
      Pacific department personnel. During this meeting, numerous
      topics were discussed including, Employee Assistance update;
      Safety Intervention Program; Reducing Signal Systems variability;
      Network design; Reducing Locomotive Failure variability;
      Autotrack Build; Reducing Train Failure variability; 2010 Financial
      & Business results; 2010 safety & 2011 safety goals; and, Health
      & Medical Department update.
    • On the dates of March 8th & 9th, the Council staff and I attended the
      Union Pacific General Chairman’s Association meeting which
      included an update by Union Pacific Chairman Jim Young, as well
      as a presentation by BRS Secretary/Treasurer Walt Barrows
      concerning Health & Welfare, National Negotiations and Railroad
    • On March 16th, I met with IBEW International Representative
      Fernando Huerta to discuss matters concerning SC2 local unions
      under the jurisdiction of the IBEW 7th District.
    • On the date of March 17th, VGC Shell attended a claims
      conference with Union Pacific in Omaha, NE. He later attended a
      Northern Region General Chairman’s forum.
    • During the week of March 28th, I attended the IBEW 7th District
      Progress meeting in San Antonio, Texas and conducted a
      Railroad workshop on Subcontracting in the Rail industry. I later
      met with the officers of San Antonio Local Union 1911.

    During the first quarter, I docketed seven cases for arbitration
    between System Council No. 2 and the Union Pacific Railroad. The
    cases are currently scheduled to be heard before PLB – 7001on May
    12, 2011, pending approval and funding by the National Mediation
    Board. Brother Shell has been busy preparing and finalizing the System
    Council fiscal year end reports. As a reminder, the 2011 IBEW Railroad
    Conference will be held in Washington DC on the dates of June 2nd &
    3rd, 2011. For those local unions who plan on participating in this year’s
    conference should make arrangements for their delegate(s) attendance
    as soon as possible.

    Please find the following attachments for your review and dissem  ination:

    1.        RRB Labor Member Speakman’s letter – January 2011 publication;;

    2.       RRB Labor Member Speakman’s letter – February 2011 publication;

    3.   RRB Labor Member Speakman’s letter – March 2011 publication;

    4.    RRB Scheduled Informational Conferences – March 2011; see

    5.    RRB Job Vacancy list – March 2011; see rrb.gov

    6.    IBEW Rail Department “National Freight Railroads Bargaining Update” February 18, 2011; see rrb.gov

    7.    FRA highlights of the permanent ban on cellphones & electronic devices;

    8.    DEA Federal Register – Final order regarding synthetic marijuana.

    With best wishes, I am

    Fraternally yours,

    Jim Wisniski
    General Chairman, SC#2