April 12, 2017

CHICAGO (April 12)—SMART-TD Illinois has developed and produced a new lodging facility report book that can be used by members to document unhealthy and/or unacceptable conditions at carrier provided lodging facilities (Hotels).

The new booklets, titled “Carrier Provided Lodging Facility Report Book”, are similar to booklets that SMART-TD Illinois produced previously that helped members document general unsafe conditions and unsafe walkways. The convenience of the new booklets, which can be placed and kept in the “crew rooms” of the lodging facility, is that they are created to make it as simple as possible for members to document certain conditions at lodging facilities and get them reported in a timely manner.

Like the older ones, the new booklets allow a member to fill out a brief form and supply comments about a certain concern involving the lodging facility (as provided by the rail carrier) that the member utilizes. The form comes with three additional copies, so once the form is filled out completely the original can go to the railroad and additional copies can go to the lodging facility manager, the SMART-TD Local and the SMART-TD State Director’s office.

The new booklet also includes segments from the FRA Hours of Service Compliance Manual-Freight Operations that might help members when filling out the form. While the actions of innkeepers are not regulated by the FRA, certain aspects of the Hours of Service Law can be impacted by lodging, including what constitutes suitable lodging at the away from home terminal, room condition and availability, and travel time to and from the lodging location itself.

“In my 20-plus year railroad career I’ve seen and stayed in some excellent lodging facilities,” said SMART-TD Illinois State Director Robert W. Guy. “But I’ve also experienced quite a few that were well below par, and it was always challenging to get concerns or conditions reported in a timely manner and to the attention of the appropriate parties.”

“I think this new form will allow our members to more precisely document concerns at lodging facilities, with the ultimate goal of having those concerns addressed in a much quicker timeframe,” Guy said.

“First, a copy of the concern can be turned in directly to hotel management, which immediately puts the facility on notice about a concern from a member,” Guy said. “It’s our hopes that initial notification is enough for the facility to address the matter.”

“If not, second, we have copies of the forms being delivered to railroad management,” Guy said. “If a pattern persists to where facilities aren’t addressing legitimate concerns, the railroads would have to question if the facility is providing the proper accommodations that the railroad is paying for, especially if those concerns have hours of service implications.”

While there will always be challenges associated with lodging facilities and the ability of SMART-TD members to acquire proper rest, the new booklets can provide a streamlined option to help address those challenges when members have legitimate issues with the conditions at certain lodging facilities.

“The creation of the new lodging books was quite a work in progress,” Guy said. “And was in response to our membership and their desire to have an effective and efficient way to address issues with these facilities that pop up from time to time.”

“And I want to give a lot of credit to our Asst. State Director Joe Ciemny for his work on this project,” Guy said. “Joe helped create the book by reviewing various railroad and other similar forms and cultivating those into a compact form that we feel covers possible areas of concern our member’s may experience at lodging facilities.”

Each SMART-TD Illinois Local will be receiving the booklets in the weeks to come. If additional copies are needed please contact the SMART-TD Illinois Legislative Board office at 312-236-5353.

Carrier Provided Lodging Facility Report Books.

Carrier Provided Lodging Facility Report Books.