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Important Message for Furloughed Railroad Workers

by Mark Glen Sokoloff

Railroad workers move the American economy forward tirelessly and they face the risk of Covid-19 head-on every day. Yet inexplicably, congress has not enacted any plan to compensate victims of the virus, the risk of which is incurred by providing essential services to the public. Nor has congress addressed a standardized safety regime to be followed by rail carriers for the future protection of railroad workers.

The rail carriers across the nation have shown their appreciation for such hazardous service by directing employees to use unpaid time off or one week of paid employment a month. As a result, railroads such as Union Pacific and CSX were able to report higher first quarter profits, as costs tied to labor and fuel expenses dropped faster than the decline in shipments and revenue. (Source: WSJ)

The Hach & Rose Railroad Litigation Department has been fielding Covid-19 related safety questions from unions and workers. These calls encompass unemployment and sickness benefit flexibilities under the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act (RUIA) during the Covid-19 virus outbreak.

Hach & Rose has been directing railroad employees to sign up for online access via a myRRB account by visiting this website and clicking on the button labeled “sign in with login.gov”.

Establishing a myRRB account gives workers a head start in the event of furlough or illness. A myRRB account permits users to have instant access to apply for unemployment or sickness benefits. The site, however, requires the following: a current state issued ID, an email address, documents with name, address, and phone number, and SSN.

Completed RRB form G-93 or SI-1B should be mailed to the US Railroad Retirement Board, PO Box 10695, Chicago, IL 60610-0695, or faxed to 312-751-7185. To reach RRB by phone, the number is 312-751-7185.

Hach & Rose continues to fight for a safer worker environment for railroad workers. Despite the clear increased risk of exposure these essential workers face, most crafts have not been supplied adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Hach & Rose joins the craft unions across the country in demanding that the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) issue an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) and enforce sector-specific requirements. Congress must support railroad workers with aid packages.

Hach & Rose firm’s mission going forward is to inform and advocate for a safer work environment as well as the codification of new Federal laws to be enforced by the FRA, which would create carrier transparency during this health crisis in alerting workers to any unsafe environment, whether in a mechanical repair shop, yard, or commuter train.

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