December 15, 2008

EAST ST. LOUIS (Dec. 15)—Acting on a Formal Complaint filed by the UTU Illinois Legislative Board, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has determined that an official of the Terminal Railway Association of St. Louis (TRRA) violated the federal Hours of Service Law last July when he performed train-crew duties without filing an Hours of Service report.

In a December 1 letter, FRA Region VI Administrator D.J. Tisor advised UTU Illinois Legislative Director Joseph C. Szabo that his office would recommend the TRRA be fined in connection with the violation.

The TRA official was identified as Roger Cocker, the carrier’s general director of operating rules and safety. Tisor said that on July 11, 2008, Cocker “assisted a train crew with the movement of Train Symbol AMQTRR-9 as it was operated from Valley interlocking in East St. Louis, Ill., to Wiggins No. 5 Yard in East St. Louis, via the TRRA Oil Works lead.

“After arriving at Wiggins No. 5 Yard, Mr. Cocker assisted the UP crew in yarding their train in Track No. 8 by protecting shoving movements and handling switches,” Tisor wrote. He identified such activity as “covered service” subject to the Federal Hours of Service Law (HSL) that limits employees doing train-crew work to a maximum of 12 hours on duty.

Unlike other employees in covered service, however, Cocker failed to comply with the federal regulation that he record the time he spent doing train-crew work. Tisor added that, while the investigation did not suggest that the additional work caused Cocker to exceed the 12-hour service limit, his failure to record his hours did constitute a violation subjecting the carrier to civil penalties.

Szabo said it was fortunate that one of the TRRA crew members noted the incident and alerted his Local that a supervisor had been doing train-crew work.

“Any member who suspects a supervisor may be performing train crew duties should note the time, date and the names of those involved and report them to the Local,” he said. “While my office enforces regulations and not the contract, we can make sure that the supervisor has complied with all federal regulations.

“Do not be subordinate or try to enforce the law yourself,” Szabo said. “Continue with your duties and afterwards report what you observed to the union. The Illinois Legislative Board will do the rest. As this incident in East St. Louis demonstrates, when our members act, we get results.”