--  Many changes primarily in the yard have been made stay posted on here and attend union meetings. 

 

-- YOUR HELP IS NEEDED!!

        FRA has redacted their statements that a two-person crew is required to run a train safely, which is not only a major threat to our communities, where trains transporting hazardous material pass through, but also a threat to our jobs, our livelihood.   U.S. rep Don Young (R-Alaska) introduced the Safe Freight Act into legislation (H.R. 1748) requiring that two certified crew members operate freight trains on U.S rails. He understands this piece of legislation is necessary to protect railroad workers and, of course, the American public. 

       As of July 2019 there were 91 cosponsors to the H.R. 1748. Please contact your congress person via this link, where a pre-written email can be sent to him/her letting them know where you stand on this. You can also contact your representative for your respective district - Rep. Veronica Escobar          (202) 225-4831

              Rep. Will Hurd                         (202) 225-4511

              Rep. Xochitl Torres-Small       (202) 225-2365

Legislative Action Center - Smart Union

                                                        

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-- ATTENDANCE POLICY: 

         - Learn the new attendance policy

         - Try to use earned compensated time for any layoffs

         - 1st method of layoff used should be the web site (it creates a paper trail record of attempt)

         - Obtain some form of document regarding layoff and supply copies to your assigned manager and anyone of the Union officers 

         - Should the need arise for more than 1 day off due to illness or injury, fill out a template given to us from the General Committee,    which any one of the Vice LC's have, and submit it along with the Dr's request for time off to the Nurse (Daniel Marquez) as soon as possible to avoid any undue complication 

         - Worst case...show up to work and report your condition to the manager on duty or the yardmaster and allow them to make the decision based on how safe you are for work

         - Please let one of the officers know should a non-compensated layoff occur

      

As we have stated in the past, we are all adults and professionals here.  It is very simple to track your layoffs.  I am aware that unpredicted situations occur, and we need to stay home, but with this new policy, it is very easy to face dismissal charges.

 

There are far too many situations that we can address the "what ifs" so I am not going to.  Just keep in mind that our best defense will be your individual effort to provide as much documentation as possible. ie: snapshots, texts, emails etc....

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--  Amidst this organized chaos, we must remain calm and continue to practice good healthy hygiene. Nevertheless, it normal to feel worried and anxiety in such moments. Please know that there is help here.

"United Behavioral Health/Optum offer a free emotional support help line. The help line is available 24/7 and open to the public for as long as necessary, providing access to specially trained mental health specialists to help people manage stress and anxiety so they can continue to address everyday needs.

Callers may also receive referrals to community resources to help them with specific concerns, including financial and legal matters.

Call the United Behavioral Health/Optum help line: 1-866-342-6892

Online resources and information are also available by registering with Optum:
Liveandworkwell.com Coronavirus info: you’ll find information for preparing and recovering from crisis, as well as links to the CDC, Red Cross, and other national organizations.
Liveandworkwell.com Coping Center: Type the keyword “coping” into the search bar, select Coping. Here you’ll find articles, guides, self-help tools and videos on coping with stress."

Other Available resources here.

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--  Smart-union.org Be prepared.

The economic uncertainty and long-term health risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic present a challenge nationally, and the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB), which administers railroad sickness and unemployment benefits, is advising all railroaders to establish an online login.gov account

Establishing this account gives workers a head start in the event that RRB unemployment or sick benefits are needed by RR workers in the case of carrier furloughs or illness.

Information needed to create the login.gov account includes:

  • A current, state-issued ID;

  • An email address;

  • Enabling two-step authentication;

  • Providing basic information such as name, address and phone number;

  • Social Security number;

  • Address verification.

Once the info is processed, a personal key will be provided to the worker that will be needed to gain access and make changes to the account. This key should be written down and stored in a safe place.

RRB operations, like those of many other public service agencies, have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The board is following CDC guidelines and has closed its field offices, so services are being provided primarily through the RRB website and its toll-free number (877-772-5772).

A login.gov account permits users to have instant access to:

  • Apply for unemployment benefits

  • Claim unemployment benefits

  • View Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act account info

  • Claim sickness benefits

  • View service & compensation

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--  SMART-TD, BLET petition FRA for emergency protocols regarding COVID-19

Published: March 20, 2020

CLEVELAND, Ohio (March 20) — The SMART Transportation Division (SMART-TD) and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) today filed a joint request urging the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to issue an Emergency Order (EO) to address employee safety conditions in response to the national COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak.

“The employees we represent are essential to the health, safety, and security of the nation. Therefore, it is necessary that the railroads take immediate and appropriate precautions to mitigate against the spread of the virus amongst their workforces, to minimize the exposure of their employees to the virus during the performance of their duties, and that Class I railroads maintain sufficient staffing levels to compensate for reduced headcounts caused by sick employees and family members, as well as to seamlessly handle predicted increases in volume once the virus begins to subside,” SMART-TD President Jeremy R. Ferguson and BLET President Dennis R. Pierce wrote in their petition.

Although emergency relief procedures were activated by FRA Administrator Ron Batory on March 13, many rail carriers have been slow to adopt, or in some cases have neglected to adopt, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. An action plan to help address the potential spread of the coronavirus among rail workers has not been issued by FRA and reports that Class I employees, both administrative and over-the-road personnel, have confirmed or suspected COVID-19 illnesses have been received.

The emergency request from the unions follows a letter their presidents sent on March 6 that requested, among other emergency remedial measures, thorough sanitation efforts in railroad facilities and on locomotives to prevent the infection of workers.

The unions’ request includes that railroads adhere to CDC guidelines in the following areas:

• Locomotive sanitation
• Sanitation of common areas used by employees
• Monitoring of employee temperatures
• Sanitation of crew transportation vehicles

The unions also seek that accommodations for meals, including long waits for food, be made in the documentation of hours of service reports for away-from-terminal personnel, including an additional 30 minutes to report in response to a call to work.

Procedures on how to handle employees who develop symptoms of the coronavirus requested by the unions reflect CDC guidelines, which include isolation, personal protective equipment, transport, and self-quarantine.

Finally, the presidents wrote, 25% of furloughed rail personnel should immediately be recalled to service to deal with anticipated shortages and staffing needs, in accordance with President Trump’s invocation of the Defense Production Act.

“To standardize and define the best protocols across the industry for the mitigation of the spread of the virus and the protection of employees, these safety precautions need to be immediately ordered by FRA,” Presidents Ferguson and Pierce stated.

 

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AAR_ASLRRA_APTA_Emergency_Relief request on behalf of railroads

 

Emergency Waiver granted  to railroads

SMART_BLET Hearing request to refute waivers

 

Although waivers have been granted to railroads, Union Pacific, at this time, does not have manpower shortage so Union Pacific should NOT be implementing these changes at this time. If you are instructed to oblige with these waivers, do NOT refuse; however, ensure that you report this to your Legislative Rep or Local/vice local chairman. 

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Below is a letter received by President Ferguson from FRA Administrator Ron Batory last Friday. While this letter is not perfect it is basically what Batory said he would put in writing concerning the emergency relief granted to the carriers, as far as the waivers not being “carte blanche”.  That being said, the international has filed for a public hearing to voice our objections to the relief granted to the carriers. In addition we will be requesting that the FRA amend the waiver to require the carriers to track and report any and all manpower issues.

 

We all know that the railroads are attempting to furlough themselves into a shortage in order to take advantage of this relief now and for other long terms goals, which undoubtedly could be used against us in the 2PC battles to come

 

Please stay ever vigilant to any instances on the property where the railroad has instructed employees to violate a regulation because of the emergency relief that was granted. There was an instance late last week when the UP told a crew they didn’t have to air test the rear half of their train after it had been off air over 4 hours and it appears that FRA has processed it as a violation.

 

 

Batory Letter 

 

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Full updated El Paso, TX restrictions directive                                                           City of El Paso Drive-thru Testing 

CDC Symptom and testing self checker                                                                      El Paso Strong  COVID-19 page

 

Congresswoman Veronica Escobar COVID-19 guide 

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SMART direct page - COVID

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, signed into law March 27, boosts unemployment and sickness benefits for railroad workers impacted by the pandemic.

Under the CARES Act, the 1-week waiting period required before railroad workers can receive unemployment or sickness benefits is temporarily eliminated. This applies to an employee’s first two-week registration period for a period of continuing sickness or unemployment beginning after the effective date of the law and ending on or before December 31, 2020.

In addition, the amount of the unemployment benefit is increased by $1,200 per 2-week period. This is in addition to the current biweekly maximum of $733.98 received by most claimants. This increased amount applies to any two-week registration periods beginning on or after April 1, 2020, through July 31, 2020.

The CARES Act includes a separate appropriation of $425 million to pay for this added “recovery benefit,” with an additional $50 million provided to cover the cost of eliminating the waiting period. If these funds are exhausted, the new provisions will no longer apply.

The CARES Act also authorizes payment of extended unemployment benefits to rail workers who received unemployment benefits from July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020.

Under the legislation, railroad workers with fewer than 10 years of service may be eligible for up to 65 days of extended benefits within seven consecutive two-week registration periods. Workers with 10 or more years of railroad service who were previously eligible for up to 65 days in extended benefits may now receive benefits for up to 130 days within 13 consecutive two-week registration periods.

Since RRB offices are currently closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic, railroad employees are encouraged to file for unemployment benefits online by establishing an account through myRRB at RRB.gov. Employees are encouraged to use a computer rather than a smartphone or tablet due to RRB IT system limitations. Otherwise, applications and claims for benefits will need to be submitted by regular mail. Applications for sickness benefits must be submitted to the agency by mail, or by fax at 312-751-7185. Subsequent claims may be completed online by those with myRRB accounts.

The RRB will also pay sickness benefits and, in some cases, unemployment benefits, to rail workers who have tested positive for COVID-19 or who are subject to a quarantine order. Further guidance on these types of situations is available at RRB.gov/Benefits/Coronavirus 

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-- FRA Christopher Martinez has advised Local 18 that yard crews assisting road crews, as far as assisting with switches or taking shoves goes, is acceptable as long as we don’t do the following:

 

(5)          The utility employee is performing one or more of the following functions:

-set or release hand brakes

-couple or uncouple air hoses and other electrical or mechanical connections (ie MU cables)

              -prepare rail cars for coupling

             -set wheel blocks or wheel chains

             -conduct air brake tests to include cutting air brake components in or out and position retaining valves

             -inspect, test, install, remove or replace a rear end marking device or end of train device.

 

Although it may not be an FRA violation is an agreement issue. Submit your claims. Also let your local LR (George Avila Jr) know (dates/times and who they are assisting) if yardmasters are heard assisting in taking shoves in any shape or form because taking shoves are for hour of service employees, to which they are not.  *Note: Relaying is not an issue unless the radio communication is.

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-- If a member is in need of a check ride/training please call and email your manager and ask to be placed on scheduler for such training/ride.  JJ Heronimus and Rick Cuellar are in town and will be doing the training..

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-- A request for your assistance. 

    As you are all aware of, the company has once again set us up in order to get away with yet another blatant agreement violation.  They ran our boards fat in order to create some fictitious "Line In The Sand" to avoid establishing a reserve board for the BLE.  Now that they have achieved this violation, they have cut our extra boards to a minimum.  Couple their actions with the current lack of business due to this COVID pandemic and we have the current situation of having over 100 of our fellow Union members without a job. 

     In the past, we have requested that our members not shove out ahead of their regular assigned turn in order to force the company to increase the protecting extra boards and help bring some of those members back to work.  I know we have that option, but given the current situation, I am asking that everyone Unite in this effort and Not Shove Out until the last cut off employee is back to work.  As I have stated in the past, I do not know everyone's personal situation and understand if it requires making as many trips as possible in order to maintain above water.  However, I am almost positive that the vast majority of us can make this small sacrifice for the time being in order to help our fellow brothers and sisters out.

     This is not the time to look back and say: "We have all been cut off... or... The Union did not do anything for me when I was furloughed".  It is the time to make a stand and break those past practices, stand together and look out for the young guys unlike the generations before us failed to do so when we were in need.

     Again, I am asking that if you are not 1st out or it is not within calling times in the yard, Do Not answer the phone when CMS calls to shove you out  - Thank you Local Chairman (T) Sal Garcia

 

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Just last night, Friday May 15th, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (HEROES Act) by a vote of 208-199. The bill now heads to the U.S. Senate, where unfortunately Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell says that Congress needs to take a 'pause' on additional legislation to address the impacts of COVID-19.
 
“Transportation workers and their families can't afford a pause. We can't let perfect be the enemy of the good, and the HEROES Act is a good bill that provides immediate and additional relief to transportation workers and the industry that has been affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic” National Legislative Director Greg Hynes said. “This needed legislation includes a number of hard-fought provisions that will provide financial stability to thousands and thousands of members directly and indirectly impacted by COVID-19. There must be a vote in the U.S. Senate."
 
HEROES Relief Bill Includes:

  • hazard pay of an additional $13/hour for all essential workers (rail and bus members included) retroactive to January 27. This is capped at $10,000 per member.

  • an additional $15.75 billion in transit assistance and requires funds to first be directed to payroll and service.

  • prohibiting employers from cutting pay or benefits from essential employees, retroactive to January 27 and good for 60 days after the national emergency ends.

  • enhanced railroad unemployment benefit of $1,200 per two-week period would be extended to the end of the year (beyond the current CARES Act)

  • the Railroad Retirement Board $4.5 million in additional grant funds to administer the railroad retirement benefits to decrease current caseloads.

  • additional relief checks up to $1,200 per person, $500 per child.

Here is where I need your help. This needed legislation is on 'pause' by Senator Mitch McConnell. And while the Senate leader has immense power as to which bills make it to the Senate calendar -- if enough Senators demand a vote, a vote will occur. But this only happen if Senators hear from their constituents.

So please click here, and send your two Senators an email asking that a vote take place on the HEROES Act. We have provided you with a pre-drafted message for your convenience. And finally, while the country begins to reopen to business, please take every precaution and stay safe.

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Recall process-

In speaking with Manpower Supervision, the LC David Acosta has made sure that the recall process has not changed.

  • A formal recall letter must be mailed out to last known address when a person is being recalled.

  • The 30-day clock starts with date on recall letter. 

 

UPRR has started to 'kindly remind' us that they will notify RRB that work is available to person being recalled so that benefits can be adjusted. LC David Acosta asked them, UPRR, kindly to just do their damn job properly by sending a letter and cutting out the B.S. veiled threats. 

Remember, 30 days to come back after Certified letter. You can come back sooner if you desire.

Call RRB at (877) 772-5772, if you have any questions regarding the recall process and the benefits in question.

Please report any threats or harassment by CMS to me. 

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Voter Registration

Registration Deadline

30 days before Election Day.

 

Eligibility Requirements

  • You are a United States citizen;

  • You are a resident of the county where you submit the application;

  • You are at least 18 years old on Election Day;

  • You are not a convicted felon (you may be eligible to vote if you have completed your sentence, probation, and parole); and

  • You have not been declared by a court exercising probate jurisdiction to be either totally mentally incapacitated or partially mentally incapacitated without the right to vote.

 

Submit Registration Form

 

By Mail or Hand Delivered:

Secretary of State, Elections Division
P.O. Box 12060
Austin, TX 78711-2060

or 

EL PASO COUNTY REGISTRAR OF VOTERS

500 E. SAN ANTONIO AVE., SUITE 314

EL PASO TX 79901-9602

TX applications can be submitted via fax as long as the original application is received in our office within four calendar days of the date the fax is transmitted (SB910). Please fax your Voter Registration Application to (915) 546-2220 - El Paso County Voter Registration.

Voter Registration Applications are also available at any U.S. Post Office, the Department of Public Safety, El Paso Public Libraries, Texas Health and Human Services Commission offices and any local high school.

 

Questions

If you have any questions, please contact your registration office in TX

https://epcountyvotes.com/
Phone: 512-463-5650
Email: elections@sos.texas.gov

 

If you have any questions, please contact your registration office. in NM

https://www.sos.state.nm.us/voting-and-elections/voter-information/

Phone: 505-827-3600 / 1.800.477.3632

Email: Sos.elections@state.nm.us

Texas Voter registration form                                       Confirm if already registered in TX

New Mexico Online Voter registration                         Confirm if already registered in NM

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