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UTU Local 84 News

Local News That You Can Use




Tom Ormiston 1947-2005

Aug 16, 2004

Greg Cooper Retires

Brother Greg Cooper retired suddenly this week. He had been out of service for a rules infraction and was due to take the remedial training at Wilmington. It is not known if any of these circumstances had anything to do with it. We do however wish him well.


Aug 16, 2004

Local 84 Protests Unfair Discipline Practices

UTU Local 84 has withdrawn from the Amtrak Safety Committee and the Metrolink Safety Committee. Our Local is protesting the harsh treatment being meted out to crews who have violated company rules. This reflects Amtrak's new national discipline policy. Mr. Gunn's philosphy on discipline is somewhat "old school". He has patterned discipline after the freight railroads model. You get one chance (the remedial training) after that if it happens again your fired. My advice: See Sec/Treas. Albitre and get job insurance. Comply with all rules and regs. but don't do any special favors for Amtrak.


August 16, 2004

Fall from Train Caused Death

Kearney Cyber Hub

By Contra Costa Times

A former Kearney resident who jumped from an Amtrak train as it left the station died Aug. 5 at John Muir Medical Center, a Contra Costa County deputy coroner said.

Leonard (Scott) DesMarais, 52, of Napa, Calif., formerly of Kearney, was on the train saying good-bye to his wife the morning of Aug. 4 when the Chicago-bound train began to pull out of the station, police said.

He ran and leaped onto the platform, but fell and hit his head, Martinez police said.

DesMarais was airlifted to John Muir, where he died of head trauma late Aug. 5, the coroner’s office reported.

Editor's Note: This item included only to remind us all that the railroad is a dangerous place. This person obviously had the major hand in this tradjedy. Circumstances could be different next time. Be safe and make others safe.


July 2004

Former Local Chairm Retires on "Medical"

More bad news. Former Local Chairman Gary Bowler has come down with liver cancer.He has retired on medical disability and is not expecting to return to work. Our thoughts and prayers are with him.


July 26, 2004

"Improper Job Briefings" and "Intentional" Rules Violations

News Analysis by Rick Reyes

Disclaimer:

This commentary is not necessarily the opinion of the UTU or UTU Local 84 and they are not responsible for its content.

You've probably heard the expression "Deal with the Devil" and the "Devil is in the Details". Both are applicable to Amtrak's new alternative discipline policy.

A new "Remedial Training" has been instituted to deal with C & E who have allegedly committed major offenses. Some questions about this program have arisen and no one, not even management, seem to have all the answers.

One question is whether this "Get out of Jail" card comes one to a customer. One of those who attended this class asked if this is a one time thing or if you could be sent here again. They were bluntly told "Don't come back". Some who have heard this infer that this is one time only, last chance kind of deal. However, when Assistant Superintendent Jack Wilson was asked about this he said he didn't know. All he could offer to say was that the program was still too new. So no one knows or is willing to say if it's a one shot deal. Will you be fired if this happens again next year? What if it happened ten years from now? What about twenty? What happens if you commit a different offense? What then? It also looks like the supervisors in in Los Angeles have lost some control over discipline dispensed. Yet I've heard that they have some say so over whether or not you even get to be offered this kind of deal.

One wonders what the carriers motive is here. One one hand we hear that they are getting tough on rule violators and the crews as a whole. The A/C's no longer get to skate by. On the other hand, here they are(the carrier) spending serious coin sending us on an all expenses paid trip to Maryland to take a few classes, watch a few videos, and to play on the simulator. And why is the Road Foreman coming along? Is he or she a chaperone or are they too being punished for our sins?

A former BNSF now Amtrak employee told me that they had a similar program over there. Although he claims that their motives were not as altruistic as it might seem. He claims that they were in reality, setting the employee up for a future big bounce. That is to say that after anymore violations, they would cut him loose permanently and then say to the Appeals Board "Look, we tried to fix this guy, but he just doesn't cut it." Is that what is happening here?

Granted that anything short of a full blown investigation is probably the better deal. However, before you enlist Amtrak in the "Good Sam" club, consider some other possibilities.

Consider the recent treatment of one of our members of Local 84 who was offered a "deal". This member was involved in one of those Rule 6.32.2 incidents. Even though they were working as the lowly A/C, cutting thousands of dollars in cash fares every other day, they were still pulled out of service. Just before the investigation the member was offered a "deal". If they signed off on the Rule 6.32.2 and a charge of a "Improper Job Briefing" they could take the "Remedial Training" and the time held from service in lieu of an investigation with possibly more serious punishment. One member objected to the "Improper Job Briefing" charge asking what is meant by a "proper" job briefing? How the heck they would know if a job briefing was even held, improper or otherwise? Was there a stenographer there? Was it recorded? Is there a "Robert's Rules of Order" for job briefings? What makes the carrier think that a "proper" job briefing was not held? The term is wholly subjective. The Trainmaster agreed and the "Improper Job Briefing" charge was agreed to be striken.

When the member went in to crewbase to sign the waiver, guess what? First out on the list was the "Improper Job Briefing" charge. When the member protested, they were told that if they didn't sign they he would have to stay off until another investigation was scheduled and then the carrier would go for a two month suspension. (It was later learned that the Superintendent had overode the Trainmaster and kept the charge in.) The member, under duress, signed off on both charges.

Later while at Wilmington Delaware training center, the member was shown some kind of master list of rules violations for the system. Some of the entries had the notation of "Procedural". When the member looked at their entry, they were shocked to discover that the violation had been notated "Intentional"! The member protested to the officials present, including Ed Walker Vice President of Operations. The member stated, rightly so that the characterization of their rules violation as "intentional" was outrageous and absolutely false. There was no way that they or any other Conductor would "intentionally" violate any rule. Those present explained that "just because it said "intentional" didn't really mean it was intentional. It meant that the charge was catagorized this way because when they overlooked the Rule 6.32.2 in the warrants which were required to be covered in a "proper" Job Briefing, missing the Rule 6.32.2 is interpeted to be the same as "choosing" not to obey it.(!) Thus it was intentional."
Uhh...what?

So under "Am" logic, when you have a list of items to bring on vacation and you forget the Dramamine, you "intentionally" threw up on the plane. Amtrak's pretzel logic would be absurdly funny if it weren't for the fact that the rest of world, including Job Insurance Companies, Civil and Criminal Courts, and the Public Law Board use the English language where the word "intentional" means only one thing. Imagine if any one of those agencies went into your personal file and saw a "intentional" rules violation.

So what's happening here? Is Amtrak creating a long range plan to absolve itself of any responsibility for your training or conduct or are they trying to create a seemingly good faith based discipline system with the serendipitous benefit of criminalizing you. Not many choices here.

So what's to do? Well, this local is addressing this issue and will fight it till it can't be fought anymore. In the mean time, if you get into trouble, think long and hard before you sign off on a "Improper Job Briefing" charge. Imagine if you were involved in a major derailment and the newspapers said "the conductor had a history of "intentional" rules violations. Do you think Amtrak will back you up? Do you think the job insurance will pay? Do you think the Appeals Board will bring back an "intentional" rule violator?

If it happens to me, I'm going to go to an investigation and make them prove (if they can) what is and whether or not I had a "proper" job briefing.

We are fighting this but don't just leave it to us. Do your part. Stay out of trouble. But if trouble finds you don't accept a scarlet letter. Fight!

Rick Reyes


July 24, 2004

Unprecented Number of Train Crews Pulled From Service

Upwards of ten Local 84 members have be pulled out of service for rules violations within the last thirty days. The latest one was on July 23.

There seems to be no one cause for this inexplicable upsurge in rules infractions. A variety of reasons have come into play. Among them seem to be heavy work loads, inattentiveness, misunderstandings, miscues, or just plain mistakes. This upsurge seems to coincide with Amtrak's new alternative discipline "Remedial Training". What connection there could be between the two is doubtful and seems to be entirely coincedental.Amtrak's "Remedial Training" is an significant change in Amtrak discipline policy. It was started in June and is similar to a BNSF program. Since it is a new policy, there are many pitfalls and unanswered questions (see related story above) about it.


June 28, 2004

News from the June Meeting of UTU Local 84

As usual, the turnout was pretty good. But that's because the meeting was held at Burbank's Ramada Inn, site of the Metrolink layover hotel. Well what are yah gonna do? Anyway, we had State Legislative Board Director James P. Jones as a special guest. Now some highlights:


May 17, 2004

News from the May Meeting of UTU Local 84

Good meeting except for the turnout. At least we had a quorum. There were some important guests in attendance. The Director of the UTU California State Legislative Board, J.P. Jones was there. The other guests were Diego Rojas of the Crow Law Firm and John Kallal from the R. E. Pfiester Law Corporation. A tremedous knowledge base indeed. Too bad you weren't there to ask your questions. Anyway here are some highlights:


May 12, 2004

Up Date on Willie Dowden

From UTU Local 166:Willie Dowden passed away May 8, 2004 at Albuquerque, NM from pneumonia. There was a short service on May 10, 2004 and he was cremated. Willie has been out on a medical fighting bone marrow cancer since late 1999. Willie is survived by his wife Renee Dowden, 805 Carlyle N. E., Albuquerque, NM 87106


May 10, 2004

Trajedy Befalls Sister Tammy Crippen

An incomprehensibly trajic turn of events has happened to Sister Tammy Crippen. Ten days after her marriage, her new husband Manny has come down with an agressive form of leukemia. He is very ill and is undergoing heavy chemotherapy. Going from the best day of her life to her worst, in the space of one week has of course caused her unimaginable despair. I suggest that all Local 84 members see Mary Townsend at the Roadforeman's office in Los Angeles and offer to donate a day's vacation to Sister Tammy so she may remain with her husband while he's under treatment. If you can't give a vacation day, do what you can for her. Start with a prayer and go from there.


May 9, 2004

Willie Dowden Dies of Cancer

More sad news. Longtime member of Local 84 Willie Dowden died Sunday May 9, 2004. Brother Dowden had been battling cancer a number of years. He had served as Legislative Representative for our local in the mid 1990's. He was a very active in Local 84 affairs before transfering to Albuquerque crew base in 2000. If I learn of any details about arrangements, I will pass them along here as soon as I can.


May 6,2004

Website Editor Awakes from Hibernation!

Well that's what I'll call my aberrant behavoir of late. Things got, to coin a phrase "A little off track". To everyone: please accept my apologies. Mea Culpa!I'll try to keep this thing at least a little more up to date. As we like to say over the PA system "Thank you for your patience".


April 2004

Excerpt From Quarterly Report from General Chairman A. L. Suozzo (Commentary)

Commentary

Amtrak

Negotiations are stalled in mediation because Amtrak insists on eliminating 365 Assistant Conductor positions, which amounts to total disregard for passenger safety, customer service, and shows a total lack of understanding o the work that train service employees perform. We hope the Madrid attack will give Amtrak cause for concern sufficient enough for them to back down from their extreme demands, as concerns crew consist. Formal mediation has not been resumed because the National Mediation Board evidentially believes that the dynamics are such that a settlement is not in the making at this time. We hope the Madrid attack changes the dynamics in our favor.

If the National Mediation Board concludes that we are at an impasse, a release from mediation would be forth coming. The sequence of events thereafter would be as follows:

  1. Proffer of Arbitration is made by the NMB

  2. Agreement is reached by accepting binding arbitration for new contract, or

  3. Exercise of Self Help (strike, lockout of promulgation) is permitted 30 days after NMB notifies both sides of either side's refusal of the proffer of arbitration, unless President appoints Emergency Board.

  4. President may be notified by the NMB that it believes that dispute will interrupt essential interstate commerce

  5. Emergency Board may be appointed by the President if he agrees that essential interstate commerce may be interrupted, and status quo is maintained.

  6. Agreement is reached based on the Emergency Board report, or

  7. Exercise of Self Help (strike, lockout or promulgation) is permitted for either party 30 days after report issued.

  8. Settlement can be legislated by the Congress with President's approval or override of his veto.

 

MBCR

MBCR Labor Relations challenging the  application of the Amtrak Agreement, which was brought forward into our Agreement with MBCR, apparently because they believe that Amtrak paid claims without merit. For example, eight (8) hour claims for crew consist violations. Another example is the payment that is allowed for qualifying, pursuant to Rule 20(c) of our Agreement. We believe we have sufficient precedent already established by the cases we have arbitrated against Amtrak to defeat the attempts of MBCR to withhold the payment of legitimate claims.

CONRAIL-SAA

We solicited input form our Conrail members concerning their use of so-called "Shoving Platforms, however, without much success. Since our letter to the membership of February 19, 2004, we received two (2) responses. Accordingly, we don not have much to work with when negotiation with Conrail in regard to the problems we are experiencing with shoving platforms.

HERZOG TRANSIT SERVICES, FLORIDA

The Railroad Retirement Board's Audit and Compliance Division is currently investigation Herzog's Tri-rail operation in regard to whether or not it qualifies for coverage under the Railroad Retirement Act, and the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act. When the Board renders its decision it will be provided to all our Herzog members by this office.

HERZOG TRANSIT SERVICES, TEXAS

Despite our efforts: we have been unable to get any movement out of Herzog in regard to contract negotiations. When Herzog asked for permission to talk to our Amtrak members that operate the Metrolink Service in Southern California, we told them "No", because oft way they have treated our members Texas. I also wrote to the Southern California Regional Rail Authority (SCRRA) and asked them to avoid using Herzog to operate the Metrolink service because of the Texas situation.

Also, should the Railroad Retirement Board decide that Herzog's Florida operation qualifies for coverage under the Railroad Retirement Act and Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act, we plan to write to the Board and ask them to look at Herzog's Texas operation for the same coverage.

I trust the above will serve to provide an overview of the activities of this office.

As always, I remain,

Fraternally yours,

A. L. Suozzo
General Chairperson


April 2004

UTU President Boyd Cops a Plea

From the "UTU News" April 2004 Issue

HOUSTON, Texas - Former UTU International President Byron A. Boyd pleaded guilty in federal court here Thursday, March 11, to one criminal count (Violation of the RICO Act. ed.) for which he was under indictment. Boyd also has retired from his positions as UTU International president and president of the United Trasnsportation Union Insurance Association (UTUIA).

Boyd, along with former UTU President Charles Little and two former UTUIA employees - Ralph Dennis and John Rookard - were pricipally charged last year by federal prosecutores with illegally accepting payments from attorneys who handle or had hoped to handle, personal injury cases involving UTU members.

"Today is a day of great sadness and personal regret," Boyd said after pleading guilty. "I take full responsibility for my actions and make no excuses. To all I am truly sorry for the anguish I have put you through."

Documents detailing the indictments and pleas are available on the UTU website, www.utu.org, under "Houston Procedings.


January 12, 2004

Wife of Local 84 Member Killed

Very sad news to report. Member Enrique "Rick" Rodriguez's wife Katrina, was killed on Monday January 12th 2004. It was reported that she was struck by a car while crossing the street. Please give all the support you can to Brother Rodriguez in his time of need. Please attend the local meeting on Jan 19th (MLK B'day) at Phillipe's restaurant at 6:30 pm. A collection will be taken to help our brother.

UP DATE:

Funeral will be held on Saturday, 1/18/04 at:

St. Francis of Rome
501 East Foothill Blvd.
Azuza, CA

It's located at the corner of Foothill Blvd. and Pasadena Ave.


January 6, 2004

Vice Local Chairman for Zone 12A Removed from Office!

Dan Comesano was fired from his position as Vice Local Chairman for Zone 12A by Local Chairman Keith Moore. LC Moore cited the reason as his "Failure to perform his duties as VLC". The specific reasons for this are clouded by rumor and innuendo. We can't comment until it goes on record at the next local meeting. In the interim, LC Moore has appointed Brother John Wylie as the new VLC 12A. Please come to the next local meeting at Phillipe's restaurant at 6:30 pm to show your support or just to find out what's going on. It might be one heck of a meeting!


December 2003

Metrolink Extends Contract

From www.mikeamick.com

Story by rebotco

Metrolink extends Amtrak contract

January 10 2004 at 2:41 PM

Metrolink extended the Amtrak contract for one year-now expiring in June of 2005. Yes this sounds good but it really isn't. They still are searching for someone else and this extra year gives them time to do this. They don't explicitly say that but given the fact Amtrak only got one year should be cause for concern. I am sorry to say it ladies and gentleman...this is the writing on the wall-we need to start accepting this and to plan accordingly.

This was the text from the meeting:

The Chief Executive Officer recommends that the Board authorize him to give notice to Amtrak of the Board's election to extend the term of the current operating agreement for the period July 1, 2004 through June 30, 2005, subject to all other terms of the agreement. The exercise of this final one year option, which was negotiated in 2002 in an amendment to the current contract, will allow sufficient time to complete both the pending competitive solicitation of these services and any transition which would be required if the Board selects a new contractor as a result of the solicitation. Contact: David Solow – (213) 452-0235


December 6, 2003

UTU Local 84 December Meeting

Highlights

  • At the November meeting the Local voted to donate a $100 gift certificate from Best Buy to the Amtrak Christmas Party Committee. Who won it?

  • Seven new hires marked up on December 5. All of them signed up for Job Insurance and TPEL! They're already working to save jobs and they aren't even over their de-rail yet! Bravo! Have you done your part?

  • Just in time for Xmas: COLA raise of $00.03. Wow. Short Crew Allowance now up to $9.81.

  • Contract STILL in mediation. I've said that before? Well, in the words of Burt Lancaster in the movie "The Train": "I'm a railroad man, not a prophet."

  • Too much holiday spirit out there. Three Rule "G" violations occurred. 'Nuff said.

  • In November's meeting, a motion was made to anull member participation in company "Special Assignments". Namely, service managers for the yard. The LC wrote to General Chairman A.L. Souzzo regarding this. He says that if manpower shortages are causing crew consist violations, then the carrier can do one of two things. They can abolish current "Special Assignments" or they can hire more Trainmen. Since the carrier is in the process of hiring new employees, the point is apparently mute.

  • One of the members assigned to Metrolink pointed out that Metrolink and or Amtrak failed to re-advertise certain Metrolink jobs that were changed the day after Thanksgiving as provided for in the Agreement. Metrolink did this to provide some limited service on that day. They contended that regular schedule would have too many trains running empty. LC K. Moore was approached about this before hand. Since it was, (so far) a one time instance he gave the OK as long as no member lost any wages because of it. Sort of a "techincal foul". We will review the Optional Displacement Advertisements for Rule 8 (holidays) when it comes out and monitor any improper changes made in the coming holidays.

  • Job Insurance going up. (Natch') The increase will be 6 cents per every dollar of coverage. Sec/Treas Richard Albitre reports that the amount we will pay vs coverage, is still below 1999 levels.

  • Speaking of the Sec/Treas, he will, with the Local's approval, purchase a new computer for the Local for his use. The old one is...well...old. The budget is at $1100.00 I will report next month how good a bargin hunter he actually is.

  • Metrolink contract is STILL not decided. Apparently the hangup is a insurance/liability issue. It now will be decided at the next board meeting in January 2004.

  • Calling Zone 12A members. Everything OK over there?

  • A member working Metrolink reports that an unsafe condition exists at the Coaster Stuart-Mesa facility. Apparently, only a chainlink fence seperates motorists going 70 mph from members using the access road. Twice this year, out of control cars have barreled through the fence and ended up on the property. Members could be killed or seriously injured just for reporting for duty. This problem has been referred to Legislative Representative Rick Reyes.

  • Have yourself a merry little Christmas!


November 25, 2003

Love it or Hate it: The Kingman Hotel Controversy Continues

Rick, Please post for the crews to see on our website. Thanks.

Keith

----- Original Message ----- From: "Konstanzer, Gregg" To: "Keith Moore (E-mail)" ; "Jay Seegmiller (E-mail)" ; "RICHARD PASEMAN (E-mail)" ; "Vawter (E-mail)" Cc: "A. L. Suozzo (E-mail)" ; "Dean Hansen (E-mail)"

Sent: Wednesday, November 19, 2003 1:19 PM

Subject: Kingman Lodging

The lodging at Kingman remains a very hot topic among T&E employees based in ABQ and LAX. I hear that most LAX based employees are satisfied and most ABQ based employees are dissatisfied with the current arrangements.

We currently have one choice for a place of lodging-the Quality Inn. It will not be possible to have more than one place of lodging in Kingman because the entire bid process was (or would be) for one place of lodging in return for all of the business. This provides an incentive for the bidder to cut their rates in return for a higher number of guests. The cost savings is about $20,000 per year or so. I need to know which facility the BLE and UTU jointly find acceptable:

A: Quality Inn

B: Days Inn

Please let me know what your joint decision is at your convenience. If you want to change and have everyone stay at the Day's Inn, it may be possible to do so.

Thanks

Gregg Konstanzer

Editor's Note:

This means that you need to let LC Keith Moore which hotel you want>


November 17, 2003

November Local 84 Meeting

  • Local Chairman Keith Moore reports that he has prosecuted $26,000 in penalty time claims to date.

  • Member John Rico has been returned to service on appeal. Unfortunately, when you're brought back on appeal, instead of, at the behest of the Appeals Board, you don't get back pay.

  • A "paperless" timeslip system will be introduced in 2004. The "Penalty" timeslip process will remain the same.

  • There was a problem in El Paso with the Single Day Vacation system being abused. LC Moore has dealt with it.

  • The Agreement is STILLin mediation. "No news, is good news."

  • The Carrier has committed at least one contract violation regarding the "Single Day Vacation" rule. A member who was protecting a road assignment was granted a Single Day Vacation date. The member then bid or bumped into a yard job. The "Z" man decided that he couldn't be off that day and rescinded his SDV date and he ended up missing his daughter's birthday party.

    The part of Agreement that covers this is in APPENDIX "B" Agreement and Rule 40 of the October 27, 1999 Agreement. In it, it says that an employee can pick any date for his SDV "consistent with the needs of service" and with 48 hours notice. This works out to mean that the carrier can change or rescind the date of the SDV at any time, UP TO, BUT NOT INCLUDING the 48 hour period prior to the SDV. In this case the "Z" man overstepped his authority and committed a Agreement violation. The member has been informed and has been prompted to file a Penalty Time Claim.

    If your Single Day Vacation date is rescinded before the 48 hour cut-off, it is vitally important that you ask WHY. For example: "Mr. Supervisor, what is the specific reason that my Single Day Vacation is being rescinded?", "Did somebody die?", "Did someone mark-off sick?", "If so, who was it?", "Is there a special train running?", etc. If they're going to pull the "consistent with the needs of service" clause on you, you're well within your rights to ask what has changed since the time that you were granted your SDV to when it was rescinded. Saying that "We're just short" isn't enough. Be persistent. Don't take 'no' for an answer. You'll need this information to successfully prosecute a Penalty Time Claim. And even if it comes to naught, at least you'll put them on notice that you are a well informed Conductor, and can intelligently challenge them on Agreement issues. Because of this, perhaps you will be known as a minor irritant and any conversation that they have with you will be thoroughly dis-agreeable. In the future, they might bother you as little as possible. Perhaps they'll stop bothering you altogether!


October 24, 2003

Subject: StatementsBy Jay Seegmiller

Something has come up that I feel needs to be brought to everyone attention. Around the Amtrak system lately the Carrier has been violating the agreement as it pertains to giving statements following alledged rule violations or incidents. Below is a copy of the part of our agreement that applies I have highlighted to pertainant part. Please keep this in mind if it should happen to you, if you are asked to give more than one statement contact your Union representative immediately! Also remember that you can insist that you have a union representative with you when giving statements.

Please get this information out on UTU bulletin boards, etc...

Jay

RULE 25 - DISCIPLINE

a. Employees will not have a reprimand noted on their discipline records nor be suspended or dismissed from service without a fair and impartial trial.

b. When a major offense has been committed an employee considered by management to be guilty thereof may be held out of service pending trial and decision. A major offense is generally recognized as:

1. dishonesty, including falsification of reports or other documents;

2. extreme negligence;

3. use or possession of alcoholic beverages, intoxicants, narcotics; or

4. disorderly or immoral conduct, or any offense bringing discredit upon the Corporation.

c. 1. An employee who is required to make a statement prior to the trial in connection with any matter which may eventuate in the application of discipline to any employee may, if he desires to be represented, be accompanied by a duly accredited representative. A copy of his statement, if reduced to writing and signed by him, will be furnished to him by the Corporation upon his request and to the duly accredited representative when requested. Only one such statement may be required.


October 20, 2003

October Local 84 Meeting

Fair turnout at the Ramada Inn in Burbank. Kind of quiet. Meeting was kind of short. We need you complainers to attend and rock this house (a little bit).

Local Chairman's report was the meat of the meeting.

  • As reported earlier, J. Rico has been fired. Amtrak made some serious procedural errors which almost guarantee that Brother Rico will be reinstated by the Appeals Board. But he is on his own in the mean time. Do you have job insurance?
  • Keith had better luck with Laura Drogan. Ridiculous charges of "stealing time" and "performing actions outside of restrictions" were refuted. Keep in mind dear readers that she was really being "punished" for getting injured.
  • As of the October meeting contract talks were still in mediation. No news is good news.
  • Reportedly Amtrak is still the leading contender for the Metrolink contract. We'll know for sure in December.
  • Lots of new awards for penalty time claims. See the "Special Claims" page and follow the link to "Awards". They are also posted in Los Angeles and San Diego.

Also brought up was the issue of problems with the remit office. It was brought up, by of all people Jesse Bryant, currently assigned to Metrolink! The remit officer is seemingly always on a break or at lunch or just not there. The clerks at the ticket window play "dumb" and resist taking remits. Have we become so used to these problems that we have rolled over played dead and it now takes a Metrolink Conductor to tell us the house is on fire? Don't let the carrier steal money from YOU! Have the "man" sign your timeslip for the extra time it takes to remit. Note this in your remit slip and timeticket.

Holidays are coming up. Do as Brother Ben Wilbur does: Remember to fill out "Did Not Meet" reports on short handed trains. Give a copy to LC Keith Moore. And the same goes for standee conditions.

Congratulations to Diane Wessonfor being elected as Alternate Legislative Representative! Oh...what's his name was re-elected too.


October 7,2003

The Hat Police are Hittin' the Streets!

With the impending visit of Amtrak President David Gunn on the 15th, expect a lot of hand wringing and job justification activity on the property. This will probably translate into uniform compliance harrasment. Consider this a warning:To avoid trouble, wear your f*cking hat! Make sure that you have required uniform parts on order. See Appendix "C" of the Agreement. Don't pay for a new style of hat. Since it's a new specification of hat, it should be provided at no charge. The management is not in a good mood. Be careful out there!


October 7, 2003

Local 84 Member Terminated

Local 84 member J. Rico was terminated for cause. As usual, the carrier had already made up it's mind and wanted him fired from the begining to protect itself from any chance of liability. "Fair and impartial trial" not withstanding. Local Chairman Keith Moore reports that he has an excellant chance to get back on appeal. This goes to show just what the current carrier leadership truly cares about.


October 3, 2003

SPECIAL NOTICE

To: Members of UTU Local #84

You are hereby notified that a meeting will be held on the 20th day of October 2003 at 10:30 am, for the purpose of:

  1. Regular Meeting

  2. Nominations for the following offices: Legislative Representative and Alternate Legislative Representative.

The meeting will be held at the Ramada Inn, 2900 North San Fernando Road, Burbank, CA 91504.

Nominations can be either by petition (signed by five members in good standing) or by motion from the floor.

Richard Albitre, Sec./Treas. UTU Local #84


October 3, 2003


Official for railroad union pleads guilty to racketeering

(The following article by Harvey Rice was posted on the Houston Chronicle website on October 3.)

Via BLE Website

HOUSTON -- One of four indicted officials in the nation's largest railroad operating union pleaded guilty Thursday to racketeering charges and agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors.

Ralph John Dennis, 51, of Boone, Iowa, former director of insurance for the United Transportation Union, pleaded guilty in return for a government recommendation of a lighter sentence and the dropping of mail fraud, wire fraud and commercial bribery charges.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ed Gallagher said the government, which began its investigation of the 125,000-member union in Houston in 1999, had a strong case against the officials even without Dennis' cooperation.

The government claims the officials solicited bribes from attorneys to be included on the union's designated legal counsel list, which gave them easier access to injured union members in potentially lucrative damage suits.

Of the 56 designated legal counsels listed on the Cleveland, Ohio, union's Web site, six are in Texas; five of those are in the Houston area. Texas has more than any other state except Illinois, which has seven.

Dennis, who still could get 20 years in prison and be fined $250,000 on the racketeering charge, agreed to forfeit $25,000 in illicit gains from a scheme to solicit bribes from attorneys who sought special access to union members.

In one case, a Los Angeles attorney flew to another state and gave Dennis $30,000 in cash, which Dennis put in the trunk of a car, Gallagher said.

Gallagher told U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt that prosecutors intend to issue a new indictment against the three remaining union officials in mid-November.

Also indicted in September were Byron Alfred Boyd Jr., 57, of Seattle, the union's international president; retired union president Charles Leonard Little, 69, of Leander; and John Russell Rookard, 57, of Olalla, Wash., Boyd's assistant.

All four are free on $100,000 bond each.

The 1908 Federal Employers Liability Act allows unlimited damages for railroad workers because their jobs are so hazardous. Friday, October 03, 2003


October 1, 2003


Amtrak Protest Strike Called Off

"The trains are going to run on Friday, as they do every day at Amtrak. " Amtrak President David Gunn.

Updated: 07:36 PM EDT

By John Crawley, Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Amtrak unions on Wednesday called off a one-day strike set for Friday to give a federal judge more time to determine if the walkout would violate the law.

Lawyers for some 8,000 unionized engineers, mechanics and other workers at the national passenger railroad agreed to defer any job action until U.S. District Judge James Robertson sorts out labor law questions later this month.

Robertson brokered the agreement at a hearing on Amtrak's request to block the strike, which the railroad's president said this week would have halted its trains nationally and disrupted commuter and freight service.

Amtrak said a strike would have disrupted travel for about 60,000 of its passengers and another 700,000 people who ride commuter trains in several states. Freight traffic along some lines would also have been delayed. The railroad also said a one-day strike would have cost it at least $4.5 million in lost revenue.

Robertson set an Oct. 20 hearing on the railroad's request for a preliminary injunction. Six unions threatened to strike to put pressure on Congress, which is considering Amtrak's annual funding level. Lawmakers are considering far less in subsidies for fiscal year 2004, which began on Wednesday, than the $1.8 billion the railroad has requested.

Congressional negotiators must still address a $1.34 billion spending proposal in the Senate and a $900 million package in the U.S. House of Representatives that Amtrak says would force a shutdown.

Gunn said on Tuesday that he needed his full request to make urgent repairs to the 32-year-old railroad's infrastructure, especially on its flagship Northeast Corridor between Washington and Boston.

Labor groups led by the AFL-CIO's Transport Workers Union say the strike was called only to get the attention of Congress and the public that funding levels being considered are inadequate.

"We're trying to say, think about what will happen if there is no Amtrak," said Richard Edelman, the lead attorney for the unions that threatened to strike. "Let's see how the transportation system operates if there isn't one."

There are roughly 20,000 unionized workers at Amtrak.

Robertson said he was not persuaded by Amtrak's arguments for blocking the strike, but felt the fast-approaching Friday deadline might unfairly hamper the railroad's ability to appeal any decision. Robertson also wants additional time to weigh other labor issues that may preclude a strike.

A union official was encouraged that Robertson did not block the strike, and said workers would abide by the order until he makes a decision.

Currently, Amtrak's costs are covered by a temporary spending measure passed by Congress last week but lawmakers are planning to adjourn for the year at the end of the month.

The railroad, which has never made money, received just over $1 billion in subsidies for fiscal 2003.


Setember 18, 2003
Strike Against Amtrak?
The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees (BMWE) and The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (BLE) are threatening to walk out on October 3, 2003 to protest the Senate and House failure to adequately fund Amtrak. Leaders of the striking unions hope that the protest strike will show how important Amtrak is by taking it away for a day.

So far, UTU Local 84 has not been issued any instructions from the International regarding a possible strike. However, if there is a union picket line at your crew base or elsewhere, members are advised not to cross it.

The other Amtrak unions planning to strike are The Transport Workers Union, and the Service Employees International Union's national council of firemen and oilers, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union. Amtrak President David Gunn issued a statement that said "We anticipate that all of our employees will abide by existing contracts and the law. In fact, it is because so many Americans are able to depend on Amtrak that the railroad needs to be adequately funded as we requested". In the past, the BMWE has been noted as a very reactionary union. The BMWE has been host to more than a few "wildcat" or extra legal strikes.


September 15, 2003

Feds Indict UTU President Byron Boyd!
UTU International President Byron Boyd is under Federal indictment and is charged with bribery, mail fraud, racketeering and other charges. It is alleged that he and former UTU President Charles Little solicited bribes and accepted payoffs from Texas based FELA lawyers since 1995. Two other UTU officials are also under indictment. For more details go to the Department of Justice site. President Boyd responds to charges at the UTU Website Wow!

Contract Talks Stall
Contract Talks between the Conductors represented by the UTU and Amtrak stalled early September. No further progress could be made as both sides were at loggerheads over some major issues. The biggest point of contention is most likely crew consist. Amtrak is insisting that it be allowed to run "Conductor Only" trains. They also claim that they have no money to have more than one Conductor onboard. The UTU isn't likely to budge on this one. The dispute is now in the hands of the National Mediation Board (NMB). This is bad news for us as the NMB rarely rules completely in our favor. After the board rules, we can either accept their decision or go with the "self-help" (Strike) option. Cross your fingers.

Possible MTA Strike
Speaking of strikes, the UTU may strike the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) at 12:01 am on Friday September 19, 2003. It is not known at this time if there is a TRO (Temporary Restraining Order) against the UTU preventing them from setting up picket lines at LAUS. Stay Tuned.
Connex Vies for Metrolink Contract.
Railroad Short Line operator Connex has made it clear that it is serious about getting the Metrolink contract. It is thought that their agents have been in the Los Angeles area gathering data in order to come up with viable bid for the operating contract for Metrolink. UTU Local 84 officials met with Connex in August and were told in no uncertain terms that our first loyalty was to Amtrak. Never the less they have made repeated inquiries with us regarding T&E practices and procedures on Metrolink. According to Local Chairman Keith Moore:"They really want this contract bad." If you are approached by Connex or other persons unusually curious about your job, refer them to Local Chairman Keith Moore.

New Hire Program Moving Along
Conductor candidates were tested the first week of September. Interviews began on Sept. 17, 2003. Ten (10) are to be hired in Los Angeles and six (6) in San Diego.

September Meeting UTU Local 84
Another low turnout for the local, but at least we had a quorum. All of the above items were discussed plus the following. Local Chairman Keith Moore says that there are only five (5) discipline cases pending this month. One is too many so be careful. Richard Tripoli is the new Superintendant of Terminal Services replacing Todd Amilli who replaced Pete Di Mola. Metrolink will not issue written instructions regarding getting off trains after a trespasser strike. "Super Conductor" Jesse Bryant was elected by acclamation as a member of Board of Trustee. The office of Legislative Representative is up for re-election. Nominations can be made at the next meeting which will be at 10:30am at Ramada Inn (Metrolink Layover Hotel) in Burbank. Incumbent L.R. Rick Reyes will seek re-election.

Audits in Progress
Members in Los Angeles are being required to perform "self-audits" while off duty and off the property. Go to the "Self Audit" page of of the "Special Claim" section of this site for instructions on how to fill out a penalty time claim.
July,2003
Check it out Check out Mike Amick's web site at www.mikeamick.com . It has some interesting discussions on unionism. "Freedom rings where opinions clash"!
July 23,2003
Del Mar Season Begins
Everyone has been there and done that so there isn't too much more you can say about it. Oh I guess you could quote my favorite couple of cartoon characters: "This sucks". There will be expanded train consists around so be sure to put in penalty time claims for Rule 11 violations. That is of course for seven or more car trains and short crew.

July 21, 2003
Monthly Meeting of UTU Local 84
Fair turnout for a hot July night. Our good friend Diego of the Crow Law Firm bought a round of cool drinks for all members who attended. One of the items brought up was whether we have to get off the train after a tresspasser strike. Metrolink says that you don't have to get off if it happens in the Los Angeles "metropolitan" area. The trouble is that the Los Angeles "metropolitan" area has not been defined. I don't recall seeing it in the timetable either. Amtrak has no such policy. Be guided by your experience or call you supervisor.
WACKY IDEA OF THE MONTH: Superintendent Mike Chandler proposed that the the Southwest Chief and the the Sunset Ltd. be combined.
Shelton Barber's case is going to the review board. LC Keith Moore says his case is strong and he is hopeful he will get back.
The elimination of the $3.50 Meal Allowance was discussed. The jist of the discussion was if you purchase a meal onboard, claim allowance and put in a penalty time claim for the difference. See informational postings in LAX and SAN.
Almost $2000.00 in special claim awards are going to be paid out as a result of the latest claims conference. Thank you Keith!
Delegate Richard Albitre is going to the Passenger Train Caucus in Anaheim. He was surprised to find out that he will co-chair the event and not function as secretary. "Congrats" to Brother Albitre.
In the foreseeable future, No "Remote Control Operation" for Amtrak.
Assistant Superintendents Gone Wild! Reports are coming in that a certain Assistant Superintendent named "George Costanza" or something like that, is being slightly over zealous in enforcing his many Assistant Superintendent's Notices of late. He might need to be reigned in a tad. If you think he's treated you unfairly, make a written complaint to Local Chairman Keith Moore and Superintendent Mike Chandler. If you think that he is just 'mis-understood', do nothing. Meantime, CYA.

NOTE:If you are instructed to write a written statement, write one! Don't just leave the property. That's insubordination.

Statement

To whom it may concern:
My name is Rick Reyes. I am an Amtrak Conductor. I work train #566. I like my new hat.

Signed

Rick Reyes

July 21, 2003

Erin Younger has applied for a leave of absence. Looks like we will need a new Board of Trustee.
Contract talks have resumed but it's not pretty. Amtrak wants to eliminate all Assistant Conductors. And that, Ladies and Gentleman, is why we haven't signed yet. The complete Section 6 Notice is posted in LAX and SAN.

Legislative Representative Report: 39006 and 39009 have been repaired. How nice not to have sewage running down the walls! Thanks Mr. Di Mola! BTW Mr. Di Mola has gone to greener pastures. He's gone over to Alstom. Maybe he can build'm better than he can maintain 'em. Di Mola's temporary replacement Todd Almilli says that the tripping hazard caused by HEP Cablesleft lying around will be addressed.
The Southern California Air Quality Management District has released their report on the excessive exhaust of Amtrak 500 series locomotives. Relying on the "Ringleman" test (developed before the turn of the century[not 2000])they have determined that the procedure of slowly increasing throttle notches on 500 series locomotives, has pretty much (cough)taken care of (cough) the problem. Sorry guys, but we've taken this issue about as far as it can go. Keep on top off things down there and let me know if you get sick from diesel exhaust or have other problems.


July 6, 2003
Dale Anderson Retires

Dale Anderson ran his last train on Sunday July 6, 2003 and retired at the end of shift. Dale celebrated by working his train dressed in a Hawaiian shirt and and cut-off dockers. For good measure he wore his conductor cap backwards! Dale spent 23 years on the SP working mostly out of Oakland. He came to Amtrak in 1986 and spent a lot of time working the Coast Starlight. A few years ago he came to San Diego to to be with his new love Anna Marie. He says 39 1/2 years on the railroad is "enough". Congratulations Dale!
June 2003
Jesse Bryant Honored at UTU Regional Meeting in Seattle
"Superconductor" Jesse Bryant stands with UTU President Boyd and Al Chesser after receiving accolades for his heroic performance during a tragic Metrolink derailment early this year. (See story dated April 21 below) Brother Bryant was attending the President's Banquet and had no idea that he was going to be called up to the podium to say a few words to the throng of UTU brothers in attendance. Thoroughly flustered, and being a man of few words to begin with, he could only muster a heartfelt "Thank you" to the crowd.
June 16, 2003
June Meeting: For Once More Members Than Officers!
The June meeting almost didn't come off when none of the local's officers save Richard Albitre made the meeting. Bob Mesa thought it was a night meeting. Mistakes happen. Only five (5) cases of discipline pending for the month. Just as well since Keith Moore is on vacation. Brother Joe MacDonald lost his appeal. 'Nuff said. Officials are said to be cracking down on crews who close off cars. As one official told me "Don't let me catch you doing it." The list of "Pre-qualified contractors for the Metrolink contract are:
  1. Amtrak
  2. Connex
  3. Transit America
It was not recorded in the meeting regarding the BN or Herzog having a slot. One company official said that the only reason BN is bidding is to keep Herzog off the property.It was said that we have the best chance. I really hope so. Emergency Lights are going up into Tunnel 26. The lights are designed only to come on when actuated by train crews or the dispatcher. Sad News: Our first Local Chairman Ike Wilson passed away in the first week of June. This long time Santa Fe Conductor pulled a lot of asses (including mine) out of the fire. Us Santa Fe "old heads", we remember. LR File: Sewage leaks repaired on Dorm Cars 39006 and 39009. Excessive exhaust on 500 serie engines still pending. JP Jones waiting for AQMD report. New complaint of 480 cable being strewn about at the S&I facility at 8th St. Yard. Bad tripping hazards.
May 19, 2003
May's Meeting Not Bad
The May meeting of UTU Local 84 wasn't too bad. Enough members attended to acheive a quorum so some things actually got done. Local Chairman Keith Moore reports that a lot of members got into trouble this month. The ones you're thinking of, will get back but will serve varying amounts of time out of service. He says "Be careful". A lot of members have been asking about contract negotiations and why it's taking so long. Keith says that UTU is going slowly so as not to settle for less than the most we can get. Negotiations are proceding carefully and thoughtfully. We are fighting for "Crew Consist" and health care among other things. UTU negotiators are keeping in mind, among other things, timing, appropriations, and political support. He says we should patient. As you already know, Sister Kim Trotter suffered a terrible tragedy which included the loss of her mother. She is recovering from her injuries and is expected to return to work eventually. As a gesture of care and concern, UTU Local #84 voted to donate $500.00 to Sister Trotter to help her with the financial burden that was brought on by the accident. A member has reported that "Superliner" Dormitory Cars #39006 and #39009 smells of sewage and other un-mentionable items. The #39009 actually has visable sewage leaking from the lower level ceiling. Not only has 8th Street failed to correct this bio-hazard, they are not even bothering to pull (or at least "trash") the white copy in the MAP21A! Legislative Representative Rick Reyes has filed a complaint with management. If you have recently worked with these cars let him know the condition right away. His email is temporarily "bad order". His alternate email is elvapor18@hotmail.com. President Bob Mesa was voted a $20.00 a month cell phone allowance because his minutes are being consumed by members calls regarding amending, changing, and single daying their vacations. The website is slowly improving. Because of the increasing usability the "Webmaster" ...umm... the guy who made it, will start to promote it a little more vigorously.
April 21, 2003

Jesse Bryant Receives the UTU Brass Lantern Award
Brother Jesse Bryant was honored at the April meeting for his heroic performance of duties as conductor when his Metrolink train suffered a major derailment after it struck a vehicle that had run around the crossing gates in Burbank last January. Tony Ianone, International Vice President, UTU is shown here presenting Jesse with the UTU Brass Lantern. The UTU Brass Lantern is the organizations' highest award and is only given to those members whose actions honor the best in the craft of conductor. Jesse's train derailed after it had struck a vehicle which had run around the crossing gates in Burbank. The train began to "daisy-chain" and the cabcar was knocked 180 degrees around and turned over on its side. After tending to the engineer, he began to rescue the passengers that had been trapped in the cabcar. This was extremely difficult because the car was on its side rendering the vestibules unusable. When Burbank Fire and Rescue units arrived they found Jesse rescueing and giving first aid to passengers. He helped coordinate the efforts of the Fire and Rescue units by providing critical information on passenger status and train protection. He did all of this while injured and refused medical attention until company officers ordered him to the hospital. The Fire Dept. Incident Commander at the seen quoted him to say "Nobody dies on my watch!" Jesse has been a conductor for over 25 years and his record has brought prestige and professionalism to the craft of conductor and to UTU Local 84, now and long before this recent disaster. Jesse, from all of us in UTU Local 84, please accept our best regards and highest commendations. You make us look good!
April 21, 2003
April Meeting a Big Success
As many as 25 people attended the April Meeting and many of them were members of Local 84! The big turn out was of course for Brother Jesse Bryant and his award. "Congrats" again Jesse! Other local news dicussed was the twenty (!) or so cases of members up for discipline. That's close to 9 percent of the local's membership. Do you have job insurance? LC Keith Moore reports that more special claims will be paid shortly. Brother Rick Reyes is getting over $600.00 (after taxes) for penalty claims. Do I have to say it? (again) "Timeslip contract violations!". Speaking of the LR, Brother Reyes and State Legislative Director J.P. Jones discussed the progress of the complaint against excessive exhaust of Amtrak's 500 series locomotives used in switching service. The CPUC says that they don't have jurisdiction but investigated anyway, much to the annoyance of certain Amtrak managers. Some measures were taken but not enough. A complaint has been filed with the AQMD and is pending. California's budget problems will probably translate into transportation cuts. The UTU's CSLB has told the state they should only cut "capitol" expenditures and not any services.

March 17, 2003
The March Meeting of the "Whining 84th" Doesn't Get Off the Ground.
The March Meeting of UTU Local 84 which was held on the 17th at Phillipe's Restaurant which is a whole two blocks from the LA Crewbase was a "bust" because only four members showed up. The members that did show up were all officers of the local. Since there was no quorum, no business could be conducted. No meeting, no news! Sorry.

February 18, 2003
Rick Knoell Has Passed Away
We have just heard that former member of UTU Local 84 and UTU Local 1544 Rick "Yard Dog" Knoell died sometime in the second week in February. Trajically, sources indicate that Rick took his own life. These sources state that he was despondant over the recent death of his sister, his own heart surgery, and the break-up of his relationship with his girl friend. Official inquiries to Local 1732 have not been acknowledged. If you have more please send new info to elvapor18@hotmail.com. To all those who knew him we share your sorrow.


January 21, 2003
Tradjedy Strikes Noel Poole
Rhonda Poole, wife of Conductor Noel Poole passed away on Tuesday January 21, 2003 from complications following back surgery. Noel is devastated and taking it pretty hard. He is taking his wife's body back to Virginia for burial. She had already asked to be buried next to her father. Reportedly, Rhonda Poole was not insured. Engineer Charley Hartsfield of BLE Division 20 and brother in-law of Rhonda Poole has asked that every concerned member of UTU Local 84 and BLE Division 20 please help our brother out by contributing a donation of any amount to a fund which has been set up. Executive Secretary Mary Townsend is handling the fund and is now accepting donations. Brothers and Sisters, if you can, please stop by her office and donate whatever you can to help Noel cover expenses during this sad time. Your support of the Poole family will be greatly appreciated.

January 17th, 2003
UTU Convention
Local Chairman Keith Moore has returned from the UTU Convention held in Orlando Florida. He reports that A.L. Souzzo was re-elected as General Chairman of General Committee of Adjustment GO-769.