Progress Through Unity

NTSB Urgent Safety Recommendations

NTSB issues urgent safety recommendations

RRB announces joint conference/seminar schedule

RRB announces joint conference/seminar schedule

RRB Reminders for 2018

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This is your last chance to call and tell your senators to VOTE NO.

The Republican tax bill that is being voted on today has the potential to wipe out Railroad Retirement Board-administered unemployment and sickness benefits.

This is your last chance to call and tell your senators to VOTE NO.

A call to action posted by SMART Transportation Division last week told you about $9 million in potential cuts to that RRB benefit if sequestration – mandatory cuts – are triggered in 2018 by the increased debt that the tax plan will bring.

Now an updated analysis by the RRB warns that unchecked sequestration can result in that fund being “zeroed out.”

Under the federal “Pay-As-You-Go” (PAYGO) Act of 2010, federal spending is required to balance or offset any increases to the federal budget deficit (also known as sequestration). As a result, the tax bill would trigger automatic budget cuts across all federal programs including the RRB’s Railroad Unemployment Trust Fund, which is targeted for a 6.6 percent cut or approximately $9 million in the 2018 fiscal year by the administration.

If Congress does not act to avert sequestration run amok, said RRB labor member counsel Michele Neuendorf in an email, pay for sick or unemployed rail workers will be gone. 

“Essentially, if PAYGO goes into effect and there is 100% sequestration, there could be 100% reduction in benefits, meaning that these benefits to railroaders will be zeroed out,” she wrote.

Sick and unemployed rail workers may have paid in, but they’ll lose out. The RRB says in its report:

“These benefits are subject to sequestration. Current sickness and unemployment benefits are set at a maximum of $72.00 per day or $720.00 per two-week or 10-day claim period. However, this benefit rate has been reduced by sequestration in effect since FY 2013 due to the Budget Control Act of 2011. The actual maximum benefit currently paid is $672.48 per 10-day claim period which is a 6.6% reduction…

“Any further reduction resulting from another sequestration would significantly degrade the benefit protections enacted by Congress and harm those employees suffering either unemployment or sickness. For example, if 100% sequestration is triggered by PAYGO rules, railroad employees eligible for sickness and unemployment benefits would receive nothing. Their benefit payments would zero out.”

So someone might be getting a gift from this tax bill this holiday, but it’s not our ailing brothers and sisters or those who are out of work.

Call your senators and urge them to vote against the tax bill.

Find out who your members of Congress are by accessing the SMART-TD Legislative Action Center or call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

Read a PDF of the RRB’s analysis.

In solidarity,
John Risch
National Legislative Director
SMART Transportation Division

 

2018 Mileage Rate

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The Republican tax bill would result in millions in dollars of cuts to the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund

The Republican tax bill would result in millions in dollars of cuts to the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund and take funds away from out-of-work employees. Tell your senators and representatives to VOTE NO.

Next week, the House and Senate are expected to vote on a tax bill that is expected to add $1.5 trillion to $2 trillion to the federal deficit in the form of corporate and individual tax cuts. According to estimates, the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund could lose as much as $9 million without any subsequent action by Congress under a 2010 budget process known as sequestration.

“Required spending reductions would significantly exceed the total resources available to be sequestered,” said Michele Neuendorf, an RRB labor member counsel, in an email. “This would have the practical result of a 100% sequestration of all non-exempt direct spending accounts including the funds from the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund which is used to pay unemployment and sickness benefits.”

Under the federal “Pay-As-You-Go” (PAYGO) Act of 2010, changes in federal spending are required to balance or offset any increases to the federal budget deficit (also known as sequestration). As a result, the tax bill would trigger automatic budget cuts across all federal programs including the RRB’s Railroad Unemployment Trust Fund, which is targeted for a 6.6 percent cut or approximately $9 million in the 2018 fiscal year by the administration.

“This tax proposal is Robin Hood caught in reverse,” said SMART Transportation Division National Legislative Director John Risch. “It would take from the poor and give to the rich. If the tax bill becomes law, the railroads will still be able to deduct money that they spend on union-busting lawyers while our members will no longer be able to deduct their union dues. The corporate tax rate for the big railroads will go from 35% to 21% while ours will stay the same with fewer deductions.”

It also means that $9 million intended for ailing and unemployed rail workers doesn’t go where it was supposed to. Instead it will go into the pockets of corporations and the well-to-do.

“Every person in America should be outraged that the Republican tax bill will borrow $1.5 trillion to $2.5 trillion to fund tax cuts for the wealthy while leaving no room for future federal investments toward infrastructure projects such as airports, transit systems, and passenger railroads,” Risch said. “I’ve been in the business of government policy since the 1980s and this is simply the worst tax proposal I have ever seen. Economists across the political spectrum are condemning this plan and the Republicans are so desperate for some sort of “win” they are moving forward with little to no transparency or accountability to their constituents.”

Time is running out. A vote is planned for next week. Call your senators and representatives and urge them to vote against the tax bill.

Find out who your members of Congress are by accessing the SMART-TD Legislative Action Center by clicking here or call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

 

SMART-TD State Legislative Rep Ron Sabol Picked to Governor Phil Murphy’s Transportation and Infrastructure Transition Team

Governor-elect names full slate of members for transition committees

Governor-elect Phil Murphy has announced memberships to his transition committees, naming more than 500 people who will make recommendations on state policy, issues and initiatives as the new administration prepares to take office in two months. Earlier this week he announced transition committee leadership positions.

Several Princeton area residents were appointed to committees, including Princeton lawyer Paul Josephson, Jess Niederer of Chickadee Creek Farm, Steve Jany of Rustin Farms, and former Trenton mayor Doug Palmer.

“New Jersey needs an administration ready to hit the ground running in January, and through the work of the transition committees my administration will not take office blind to the challenges and opportunities before us,” said Murphy in a statement about the appointments. “I am grateful to everyone who accepted the call to serve our transition. From analyzing and prescribing policy to taking a fresh look at the basic organization of government, these committees have a lot of work to do. I am confident they will put my administration in a position to begin delivering results for the people of New Jersey from day one.”

The committees will meet throughout the state over the course of the next two months and will then submit reports and recommendations to the governor-elect and his leadership team prior to the inauguration.

Transportation and Infrastructure

Anthony Attanasio, Utility and Transportation Contractors Association of NJ; Janine Bauer, Szaferman Lakind; Scott Braen, Braen Stone Industries; Jon Carnegie, Voorhees Transportation Institute; Janna Chernetz, Tri-State Transportation Campaign; Jim Cobb, New York Shipping Association; Dan Dagget, International Longshoremen’s Association Atlantic Coast Council; Larry English, AirRail; Joe Fiordaliso, New Jersey Department of Transportation; Mike Fischette, Concord Engineering; Kelly Ganges, Office of County Executive Brian Hughes; Ray Greaves, Amalgamated Transit Union State Council; George Helmy, Office of Senator Cory Booker; Woody Knopf, Knopf Automotive; Kris Kolluri, Former New Jersey Department of Transportation Commissioner; Jerome LaFroglia, Transport Workers Union; Jamie LeFrak, LeFrak Organization; Ian Leonard, IBEW Construction; Cathleen Lewis, AAA; Bob Medina, Medina 43 Business Strategies; Frank Minor, Mayor of Logan Township; Sami Naim, Lyft; Paul Nunziato, Port Authority Policeman’s Benevolent Association; Atilla Pak, ASTM Consulting Engineering, LLC; Jason Post, Uber; Fred Potter, Teamsters 469; Ronald Rios, Middlesex County Freeholder; Tim Rudolph, IFPTE State Council; Ron Sabol, SMART; Bob Salmon, Former Inspector General at the Department of Transportation; George Schnurr, Freehold Council President; Monica Slater Stokes, United Airlines; Revered Ronald Slaughter, St. James AME Church; Mike Soliman, Mercury, LLC; Bill Sumas; Joe Taylor, Matrix Development Group; Gary Toth, former Project Manager at the Department of Transportation; Mike Travostino, Associated Construction Contractors of New Jersey; Jan Walden, Former New Jersey Transit Executive; Aaron Watson, Mercer County Park Commission; Woody Weldon, Weldon Materials, Inc; Tom Wright, RPA.

New DOT Drug Testing Criteria

This week, the Department of Transportation published a final rule that expands DOT’s current drug testing panel for safety-sensitive employees to include certain semi-synthetic opioids: hydrocodone, oxycodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone. A list of common names for these opioids include OxyContin®, Percodan®, Percocet®, Vicodin®, Lortab®, Norco®, Dilaudid®, and Exalgo®.

Last March, SMART-TD filed joint comments to DOT requesting the proposed cutoff levels for a positive test, additional training for Medical Review Officers (MROs), clear guidelines regarding the definition of a valid prescription, and the implementation of a process to challenge MRO findings, all which DOT rejected. (see attached)

The DOT rule is scheduled to go into effect on January 1st, 2018. You can find a summary of the drug testing changes and how they may affect you by clicking the link below. You can also read the final rule as published in the Federal Register by clicking HERE.

Click HERE to read a summary of the recent DOT Final Rule on drug testing.https://www.transportation.gov/odapc/Part_40_Final_Rule_Summary_of_Changes

In solidarity,

John Risch
National Legislative Director
SMART Transportation Division

SMART Unions Announce United Support for Phil Murphy for New Jersey Governor

KENILWORTH, N.J., Oct. 19, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The five Sheet Metal Workers Local Unions and the New Jersey Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART Union) today announced their united support for Phil Murphy for Governor of New Jersey.

Joe Demark, Jr., the President of the New Jersey SMART Council and President and Business Manager of Local 25 said this was the first time that the five local unions and the transportation union have joined together to endorse a candidate for governor.

“The five Sheet Metal locals and the Transportation Division represent a total of 11,500 union members and their families in New Jersey,” said Demark. “We are here today to announce our united support for Phil Murphy for Governor of New Jersey because we believe he offers a new path and a new vision for all our state and will be a governor who will make it happen.”

Demark noted that Phil Murphy’s background included growing up poor and working hard to become a graduate of Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania and an international business leader.

Phil Murphy built on that success to become the US Ambassador to Germany from 2009 until 2013,” said Demark. “It was there that he was exposed to the value of trade unions and their apprenticeship training programs as a catalyst to growing the economy and he knows how valuable and integral our programs here are to rebuilding New Jersey’s economy.”

Additionally, Demark pointed out that during the past seven and a half years under Christie and Guadagno construction jobs have been devastated, with his own Local 25 and other building trades unions seeing as much as 50% unemployment due to the job killing policies of the Christie Administration.

“It is not a coincidence that we have had building trades unions like ours in the SMART New Jersey State Council seeing upwards of 50% unemployment in the last seven and a half to eight years,” said Demark. “It is because we have had poor leadership under Christie and Guadagno!”

By contrast, Demark said Murphy understands that SMART union members want to support a Governor who will work to create jobs, support prevailing wage laws and project labor agreements and enforce fair labor standards through the New Jersey Department of Labor.

“This is the most consequential election in New Jersey in generations. We in the New Jersey Labor movement know what it means to fight to get ahead and support all workers and so does Phil Murphy,” said Demark. “That is why we will pull out all the stops, Take 5 and elect Phil Murphy the next Governor of New Jersey and Sheila Oliver the next Lt. Governor of New Jersey.”

The SMART Unions represent 11,500 sheet metal and transportation workers in every county of New Jersey.

 

SOURCE SMART Union, New Jersey State Council

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/smart-unions-announce-united-support-for-phil-murphy-for-new-jersey-governor-300540121.html

 

Town Hall Meeting with GP Sellers

SMART General President Sellers has been travelling across North America specifically to hear members share their views and concerns.

To ensure everyone, INCLUDING YOU, have the chance to be heard, he will be holding a first of its kind live Town Hall Forum with SMART members on November 2nd from 6:30 to 7pm Eastern.

This online forum is your chance for you and your co-workers to have your questions heard and answered directly by the General President.

To attend the town hall forum you MUST register online at: http://www.summitwebcasting.com/webcast/smart/

Please share this invitation with your fellow members to ensure everyone has a chance to attend this important event.