As our nation and our world takes measures to slow the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, UE rail-crew transport workers need clear answers to protect health and safety on the job. Your rank-and-file union in all 6 UE Locals 155 (NJ), 716 (OH), 977 (TX,LA, KS, OK, TN), 1077 (CA NV), 1177 (MN, MO, WI, IL, IN) and 1477 (CO, NM) at Hallcon and PTI (CA, IL, IN) are working to make drivers’ voices are heard.
Hallcon & PTI driver’s service to the railroads and America is essential to keeping goods on store shelves & medicines and supplies in hospitals. Below you will find answers to some questions being raised at work.
Leave and Attendance
Hallcon has stated they will abide by guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), here is a link to these guidelines (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html). The Company has agreed to facilitate drivers requests to not be at work as follows:
If you have an underlying health condition or have someone at home who does, YOU SHOULD NOT GO TO WORK, you can:
1.) You can request Family Medical Leave (FML). To qualify you must have worked for Hallcon for the past 12 months and worked at least 1,250 hours. If granted leave, your job will be protected, and you will have 12 weeks of unpaid leave (If you work in California you are eligible for 6 weeks paid leave, this applies to PTI drivers as well). Call or email Courtney Cowan at Hallcon here: email@example.com or 913-890-6152. You might also qualify for a personal leave of absence.
2.) You can request a layoff from Hallcon. To do so, request in writing to your regional manager and include a Union steward on the email. Once granted the layoff, can apply for the expanded unemployment benefits. Drivers have recall rights (Article 17.2) from layoff. If you have 6 months of service with Hallcon, you have recall rights for up to 1 year. You will have recall rights to a job, but not to your old position.
Drivers who are sick with non covid-19 symptoms and don’t display symptoms of the disease do not need a doctors note to return to work unless out for 3 days or longer.
Hallcon has communicated this to Regional managers and Site Supervisors. If they are unclear about the process, call a UE steward or call the UE at (312) 574-0733.
The Hallcon Acknowledgement Form currently being circulated is not required to be signed.
The railroad may ask your supervisor if you have received it and signed it. The Union is concerned that drivers could be penalized by the railroad for not signing. If in doubt, speak with your supervisor or UE steward.
Direct order from Hallcon, PTI or your Railroad yard or train master to leave the property
If your supervisor or railroad employee tells you to go home, comply with their request. Call your supervisor, be professional and ask them to support you. Consult with a steward to see if your rights have been violated.
If you are sent home for quarantine, you are eligible for unemployment benefits.
If required to get a COVID 19 test prior to returning to work
Make sure you speak with your supervisor and ask who is requiring the test be taken. Request the supervisor commit to paying the costs for the tests. Be sure to call a UE steward and call the UE at (312) 574-0733.
Don’t get banned by the railroad
You need to avoid being banned by the railroad. Currently, the railroad staff can file complaints and get you banned from the property. To avoid this, comply with requests, if someone is questioning your health, call your supervisor and your steward. But comply with the railroad staff. Don’t give anyone an excuse to ban you from the property if you are able to work and want to work. Call a UE steward or call the UE at (312) 574-0733 if you have questions.
If you get sick at work and believe you contracted COVID-19 from work
If you come down with COVID-19, and you have evidence you were exposed on the job rather than getting it from someone in your household or elsewhere, then you may have a Workers Compensation claim. You should consider filing a worker’s compensation claim should you develop symptoms from being exposed at work. Go home. Do no report to work sick. Call your supervisor and a UE steward or call the UE at (312) 574-0733 if you have questions.
Social distancing, maintain a 6-foot distance between you and others
Be smart at work, request the crews not sit in the passenger seat or the seat directly behind you. Good customer service and talking through any issues with the crews is encouraged and can help avoid misunderstandings.
Cleaning procedures and supplies
Hallcon has placed in every area, clear instructions on how to clean the vehicle each time you haul a crew. The Company also has cleaning supplies. If they do not have cleaning supplies, request from your supervisor to be able to purchase those supplies. Make it clear that you want to be reimbursed for the supplies you purchase. You should be paid for all time taken to properly clean the vehicle. Call your supervisor and a UE steward or call the UE at (312) 574-0733 if you have questions. If you need to know how to contact a steward, write to firstname.lastname@example.org
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Hallcon has not said that it will provide gloves to drivers at this time. Hallcon states that the Centers for Disease Control are not requiring use by the general public.
UE will be fighting to increase the PPE drivers get on the job as well as other demands. Stayed tuned for a public petition calling for more support of your safety on the job.
In the meantime, Congress just passed a major relief stimulus. There are expanded protections for workers. Go to www.ueunion.org for more information.
Get Involved, Help Protect Drivers Everywhere
We are drivers for Hallcon and members and leaders of the United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America Locals 155, 716, 977, 1077, 1177 & 1477. We work for Hallcon in 15 different states. We call on the top leadership of Hallcon to protect our health, safety and jobs at once. In order to do this, we demand the following:
- Hallcon drivers demand a $5.00/hour immediate raise to base and alternate rates of pay. These rate increases shall apply to all hours worked for the duration of the pandemic.
- We demand 30 days of paid sick leave for all drivers who are sent home because of a railroad demand, supervisor sent driver home because of suspicion of COVID-19 symptoms.
- If drivers use their Sick Pay or PTO for illness related to COVID-19, Hallcon shall reimburse Sick Pay and PTO used.
- We demand any driver that requests a layoff, any time during the pandemic outbreak, shall be granted their previous position prior to when they left Hallcon.
- We demand drivers be provided with extra breaks to wash their hands. The employer should provide tissues, no-touch trash cans, hand soap, alcohol-based hand rubs containing at least 60 percent alcohol, disinfectants, and disposable towels for workers to clean their work surfaces in each vehicle.
- We demand more communication with drivers on the impact of COVID-19 in all UE locations and that Hallcon use the Drivers Portal and any means necessary the means for drivers to get the proper cleaning supplies and PPE as needed.
- We demand that Hallcon step up and tell the railroad and railroad crews that drivers have the right to wear masks.
Nothing moves without us.