Dear Brothers and Sisters:

In June 2011, Local 214 President Jack Kramer retired from the Union  Pacific Railroad with thirty-seven years as a member of the IBEW.   Jack served his local in several capacities as well as the System  Council as an Executive Board member for many of those   years. Throughout his career, he devoted himself to leading the   membership with the sincere desire to improve the lives of those he  served. I can personally attest to his tireless effort and dedication. Jack   will be greatly missed and we thank him for his valuable service, time and support.

In June, the United States Supreme Court ruled on the question of   what standard of causation is applicable in cases arising under the  Federal Employees’ Liability Act (FELA). FELA imposes the liability on  railroads for employee injuries resulting in whole or in part from the  railroad negligence. In its opinion, the Court held that it was proper to  instruct the jury that causation is established if the carrier’s negligence  played a part, no matter how small, in bringing about the injury. This  case  involves a railroad employee who won a jury verdict against CSX  over a n on-duty hand injury. During the trial, the judge instructed the jury  that under FELA, causation is established if it found that the Carrier’s  negligence played a part, “no matter how small”, in the employees  injury.   The judge rejected the carrier’s request to instruct the jury that  negligence must be the “proximate cause” of the injury. After the jury  found in favor of the employee, CSX appealed the case, of which the  majority held that the judge provided the proper instruction to the jury.  Moreover, the court found that the instruction given merely tracked the  statutory language as interpreted by the Supreme Court in past cases.  As noted, this decision is beneficial for all railroad employees. The  complete opinion can be reviewed at:                                                          www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/10pdf/10-235.pdf.

In May 2011, the United Transportation Union (UTU) reached a  tentative agreement with the nation’s freight railroads on wages and  benefits, which include 17% wage increases over 6 years and various  concessions and cost shifting with health and welfare. The IBEW, along  with the other Rail Labor Organizations representing the remaining 75%  of the unionized workforce are of the opinion that such an agreement  would not be fair to our members in light of the record profits the  railroads have been making. Needless to say, the railroads are now  claiming that that the UTU agreement set a “pattern” and that all of the  other unions should follow this pattern. The IBEW along with the other  coalition labor organizations have requested that the National Mediation  Board (NMB) release us from mediation in order to move our impasse  along. As of this writing, the NMB has not yet responded to our request    for release. This delay appears to be caused by the UTU and the      railroads reaching an agreement over the past couple of months. Now    that the UTU agreement has been reached, the NMB has called us back  into mediation. Nonetheless, our bargaining coalition consisting of the      IBEW, IAM, TCU, TWU and ATDA has continued to maintain its     position   that we will not agree to any concessions and will continue to    insist on wage increases that reflect the unprecedented profits of the    railroads. Moreover, the RLBC coalition, consisting of the remaining    Rail  unions recently agreed to join with our coalition and also seek    release from mediation. I will continue to keep you advised with any    updates. (See attached – “National Freight Railroads Bargaining   Update – June 16,  2011”)   

April 2011

*   On the dates of April 5th & 6th, I attended the National Freight Railroad Mediation session at the National Mediation Board, Washington DC.

*   On April 4th, VGC Randy Shell sustained an unfortunate accident when he unexpectedly slipped tearing a tendon in his knee. The injury ultimately required emergency surgery and approximately six weeks in a cast. He has recently been released by his physician and is doing well.

*   On the dates of April 7th & 8th, I met in Fort Worth with the System Council training steering committee in order to review the committees proposed curriculum which will ultimately be used for training new or inexperienced local chairmen and committeemen.


  • On the date of April 11th, I attended the monthly meeting of Fort worth Local 942. On April 12th, I met with San Antonio Local 1911 Financial Secretary Alex Avila.
  • During the week of April 25th, VGC Shell and I, together with representatives of the IAM and NCFO, attended a meeting with Union Pacific Labor Relations to discuss the Carrier’s implementation of the one-day vacation agreement. We later met with General Director Mechanical John Estes to discuss various issues and concerns.
  • Throughout the month of April, AGC Tortorice, VGC Shell and I, finalized our case presentations and submissions for arbitration scheduled for May 12, 2011.

May 2011

  • On May 12th, the System Council staff and I attended arbitration before Public Law Board 7001 with the Union Pacific Railroad.
  • On May 11th – 13th, AGC Dave Starkjohann attended the IBEW 11th District Progress meeting in St. Charles, Missouri.
  • During the week of May 17th, AGC’s Tortorice and Starkjohann met with the officers and members of El Paso Local 726 and attended the scheduled meeting.
  • On the date May 17th, I attended the monthly meeting of Kansas City Local 1832. On May 18th, VGC Shell and I toured the Kansas City locomotive facility and later met with Carrier Director Steve Slattery.

June 2011

  • During the week of June 1st, the System Council staff and I attended the annual IBEW Rail Department meeting in Washington DC.
  • On the date of June 14the, AGC Tortorice assisted Roseville Local 1682 with a disciplinary investigation.
  • During the week of June 14th, I attended the quadrennial convention of IBEW System Council No. 16.
  • During the week of June 27th, AGC Tortorice, VGC Shell and I met with the officers and members of Chicago Local 214, and toured the Proviso, California Avenue, and Dalton facilities.

During the second quarter, the Council staff and I spent a lot of time     progressing time claims and disciplinary cases as well as research with   several subcontracting disputes. The Positive Train control project is   currently underway on the Union Pacific Railroad. As this project moves forward, we will continue to address any concerns and obstacles as they arise. The Kansas City Southern has recently served notice to subcontract installation of the PTC work, of which we have strenuously objected and requested a meeting to discuss this matter further. Furthermore, we are currently in the process of securing the next arbitration date for early September, 2011. I will keep the respective local unions and claimants advised as these dates are confirmed.

Please find the following attachments for your review and dissemination:

  1. www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/10pdf/10-235.pdf. – April 2011 publication;
  2. 2.  RRB Labor Member Speakman’s letter – June 2011 publication;

RR   3.  Scheduled Informational Conferences – May 2011;

  1. 4.  RRB Job Vacancy list – June 2011;
  2. National Freight Railroads Bargaining Update” June 16, 2011

With best wishes, I remain

Fraternally yours,

Jim Wisniski
General Chairman