RRB Pays Extended Unemployment Benefits

RRB Pays Extended Unemployment Benefits under CARES Act

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, recently signed into law by President Trump, authorized extended unemployment insurance (UI) benefits for railroad workers sidelined during the COVID-19 pandemic.After making necessary programming changes to agency systems, the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) began processing and paying extended benefits on May 11.

The CARES Act authorized payment of extended UI benefits to rail workers who received UI benefits from July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020. Under the legislation, railroad workers with less than 10 years of service may be eligible for up to 65 days of extended benefits within 7 consecutive 2-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 2-week registration periods. No extended benefit period under this provision can begin after December 31, 2020.
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Unemployment Securities Department

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

As of Sunday, April 26th, workers eligible for the new pandemic unemployment assistance program filed their first claims. There is an unprecedented volume of claims expected to be received by the Employment Security Department (ESD), some workers may benefit from guidance on how to access unemployment during covid-19. I invite you to share the ESD talking points with all whom you know are affected in your network of family, friends, etc., with the websites, and social media content (below)

Additionally, for your reference, below is the email that hundreds of thousands of workers received from ESD in the last Friday / Saturday.

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HB 1841 – Establishing Minimum Crew Size on Certain Trains / Signed into Law

Brothers and sisters,

At 2:30pm Friday, March 27, 2020, Governor Jay Inslee signed into law HB 1841 – Establishing Minimum Crew Size on Certain Trains, which sets into place long overdue crew size minimums for freight and passenger trains. This is a huge win for us all; it recognizes what we see in our work every day, that worker safety and public safety go hand in hand, and that we need strong laws to guarantee both. After seven long years of work, BLET and SMART-TD are proud to have secured the strongest crew size law in the country!

We did not need the coronavirus to tell us what we already know: railroad workers are essential, and so is our safety. The new crew size law makes sure that worker safety is not optional, and the Washington State Legislative Board will continue to fight, through this public health crisis and after, to make sure working men and women are safe and healthy, on the job and off. We continue to work with the Governor’s Office, state agencies, the Washington State Labor Council and others in the enforcement and to bring about awareness of state statute(s) concerning Railroad Companies – Sanitation, in your behalf.

In the 480-66 WAC’s the overall theme of the statutes listed is clean & sanitary conditions, in good repair, free of rodents, and vermin. In efforts of taking necessary precautions of not allowing the spread and therefore the infection of personnel using these area’s in question by COVID-19. I am asking for it to be determined as reasonable for the application of these WAC’s, in the argument against the minimal or non-existent methods of properly addressing this pandemic by the Class I rail carriers in our state; assisting in the efforts of the General Committee. (More information to be forthcoming)
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Recent developments help support railroaders during COVID-19 response

Recent developments help support railroaders during COVID-19 response

​​Railroad workers included in prioritization for COVID-19 testing

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new guidance that cites critical infrastructure workers—which includes railroaders—in its new guidance as priority for those who should be tested for COVID-19.

This is great news for our employees and our company as we continue to address COVID-19. BNSF has been advocating at all levels of government to ensure railroad employees—who have a critical role in our nation’s supply chain—were appropriately prioritized for COVID-19 testing as it becomes more readily available.
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CDC Guidelines

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Unsanitary / Dirty Locomotives

If you have a locomotive that hasn’t been cleaned or sanitized first report it to the on-duty Trainmaster or Terminal Manager. The locomotives should be cleaned and sanitized at Hauser on the fueling pad and Lead Locomotives and second locomotive at the originating terminal.

Document any dirty or unsanitary locomotives by submitting a SIRP and taking pictures if you have cleaned it yourself and forward the SIRP and pictures to me so I can forward the information on my end.

We need to be proactive on our end to keep the locomotives clean for the next crew. Report ahead of time at crew change locations if the locomotive needs to be sanitized so the outbound crew can secure the needed products to clean the locomotive.

Rob Holton
Division 104 LC

INSTRUCTIONS: BNSF Today Article- Railroad employees identified as critical infrastructure workers

Local Chairmen,

I wanted to provide a crucial update to those of you who live or work into a location that is being advised or required to “shelter in place”.   Attached are some documents that may or could be requested of you to travel to or from a work location in these locales.  Please see the instructions in the Carrier’s email below recommending you have in your possession these letters and your BNSF ID.

We have asked the BNSF to put this critical update and their related instructions for TY&E employees on the Portal and BNSF Connect.  I have also posted below, the latest email communication concerning TY&E employees reporting for work in these areas which are currently or may soon become shut down.

See the Final Guidance of Essential Workers attachment above, and email below which states:  Homeland Security has also issued a guidance document which identifies railroad employees as part of the critical infrastructure element necessary for continued business operations.

I will also reach out to the Senior Management at BNSF this afternoon to make sure efforts are being made to notify the State Police Forces and any other State or Federal Agency that may question your movements while going to or returning from work and request they post summary of those communications for all employees to see.
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Scheduled Employees

COVID-19 Sickness Compensation and Benefits: Scheduled Employees

The work we do is vital to the United States supply chain. Every day we come to work and keep America’s goods flowing across this great nation. Over the past few weeks COVID-19 has impacted much of the nation—but you, the proud men and women of BNSF, have continued to come to work and perform your jobs safely and professionally, and we want to thank you for that.

Over the next several weeks, our nation will face many challenges and changes. During this time, we will work with all our employees to make sure you have a safe and productive work environment. There have been questions and we want to be clear. We will relax our policies with anyone contracting COVID-19 or directed to quarantine. We will not discipline anyone for following quarantine guidelines. We can do this because we’re confident that our teams know the importance of doing our jobs to fulfill our critical role in the supply chain.
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