All posts in December 2017

NCFO members ratify new collective bargaining agreement

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio, December 14 — The National Conference of Firemen & Oilers, SEIU (NCFO), a partner union of the Coordinated Bargaining Group (CBG), announced on December 13 that its members have ratified the new national agreement with the nation’s major freight railroads. The NCFO is one of five CBG unions to ratify the pact.

The four other CBG unions to approve the agreement include: the American Train Dispatchers Association (ATDA) on November 27; the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS) on November 28; Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) on December 1; and the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART TD) on December 1.

The ratified contract will cover NCFO members employed by BNSF, CSX, Norfolk Southern, Kansas City Southern, Union Pacific and numerous smaller carriers. The NCFO is an affiliate of Local 32BJ SEIU, the Service Employees International Union, which has 2.1 million members.

“This round of bargaining, just like what is taking place in Washington, was totally unpredictable,” NCFO President John Thacker said. “We went from a possible tentative agreement, prior to the 2016 Presidential Election, to a stalemate after the election, to an agreement in the final days of bargaining. I would like to thank our partners from the Coordinated Bargaining Group for their solidarity with the members of the NCFO.”

The six unions comprising the CBG include: ATDA: BLET; BRS; SMART TD; NCFO; and the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers, and Helpers. Collectively, the CBG unions represent more than 85,000 railroad workers covered by the various organizations’ national agreements.

Thursday, December 14, 2017
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Growing length of U.S. freight trains in federal crosshairs after crashes: GAO

By Eric M. Johnson

SEATTLE (Reuters) – The investigative arm of the U.S. Congress is launching a probe into the safety of increasingly long freight trains being operated by CSX Corp <CSX.O>, Union Pacific Corp <UNP.N> and other major U.S. railroads to boost profitability, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) said.

Train length is currently unregulated. Any push to add rules would likely face stiff industry opposition because railroads use longer trains to boost margins through the better use of fuel, locomotive power, and rail cars without having to add extra crew.

read more @ https://finance.yahoo.com/news/growing-length-u-freight-trains-federal-crosshairs-crashes-110222573–finance.html

G.E. Cuts Jobs as It Navigates a Shifting Energy Market

General Electric, whose new leadership is moving to eliminate bloat and grapple with the fallout from earlier, ill-timed decisions, is taking drastic steps to keep pace with seismic shifts in the global energy industry.

The company said on Thursday that it would cut 12,000 jobs in its power division, reducing the size of the unit’s work force by 18 percent as part of a push to compete with international rivals in a saturated natural gas market, adjust to “softening” in the oil and gas sectors and stay abreast of the growing demand for renewable energy.

read more at: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/07/business/general-electric-power-jobs.html

Railroad Retiree Earnings Limits Rise in 2018

Railroad Retiree Earnings Limits Rise in 2018

 October 2017

 

Railroad retirement annuitants subject to earnings restrictions can earn more in 2018 without having their benefits reduced as a result of increases in earnings limits indexed to average national wage increases.

Like social security benefits, some railroad retirement benefit payments are subject to deductions if an annuitant’s earnings exceed certain exempt amounts. These earnings restrictions apply to those who have not attained full social security retirement age. For employee and spouse annuitants, full retirement age ranges from age 65 for those born before 1938 to age 67 for those born in 1960 or later. For survivor annuitants, full retirement age ranges from age 65 for those born before 1940 to age 67 for those born in 1962 or later.

For those under full retirement age throughout 2018, the exempt earnings amount rises to $17,040 from $16,920 in 2017. For beneficiaries attaining full retirement age in 2018, the exempt earnings amount, for the months before the month full retirement age is attained, increases to $45,360 in 2018 from $44,880 in 2017.

For those under full retirement age, the earnings deduction is $1 in benefits for every $2 of earnings over the exempt amount. For those attaining full retirement age in 2018, the deduction is $1 for every $3 of earnings over the exempt amount in the months before the month full retirement age is attained.

When applicable, these earnings deductions are assessed on the tier I and vested dual benefit portions of railroad retirement employee and spouse annuities, and the tier I, tier II, and vested dual benefit portions of survivor benefits.

All earnings received for services rendered, plus any net earnings from self-employment, are considered when assessing deductions for earnings. Interest, dividends, certain rental income, or income from stocks, bonds, or other investments are not considered earnings for this purpose.

Retired employees and spouses, regardless of age, who work for their last pre-retirement non-railroad employer are also subject to an additional earnings deduction, in their tier II and supplemental benefits, of $1 for every $2 in earnings up to a maximum reduction of 50 percent. This earnings restriction does not change from year to year and does not allow for an exempt amount.

A spouse benefit is subject to reduction not only for the spouse’s earnings, but also for the earnings of the employee, regardless of whether the earnings are from service for the last pre-retirement non-railroad employer or other post-retirement employment.

Special work restrictions continue to be applicable to disability annuitants in 2018. The monthly disability earnings limit increases to $920 in 2018 from $910 in 2017.

Regardless of age and/or earnings, no railroad retirement annuity is payable for any month in which an annuitant (retired employee, spouse or survivor) works for a railroad employer or railroad union.

Medicare Part B Premiums for 2018

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released Part B premium for 2018.

Read more here..  https://www.rrb.gov/sites/default/files/2017-11/NR1708.pdf