Local 1374 (New Castle, Pa.) conductor Erik D. O’Brien, 44, lost his life Saturday, May 21, 2022, when his car hit the back of a semi-truck on his way home from work around 4 p.m.

Erik D. O’Brien

A 1996 graduate of Marlington High School in Alliance, Ohio, Brother O’Brien was a member of the Louisville Baptist Temple, the Civil Air Patrol, the NRA and was a part of his high school wrestling team. He enjoyed skydiving, going to shooting ranges and spending time with his dog and family.

A 23-year member of CSX Local 1374, Brother O’Brien was both a certified conductor and engineer.

“I only knew Erik from some phone calls over the years, and he seemed to be a great person,” said GO 049 General Chairperson Rick Lee. “He was a loyal member of UTU/SMART.”

Brother O’Brien is survived by his parents, Daniel and Denise (Boyce) O’Brien; wife, Catherine (Welton); son, Caiden John O’Brien; brother, Shane (Jodi) O’Brien; as well as several nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. He was preceded in death by his paternal and maternal grandparents.

A visitation is scheduled Friday, May 27 at the Louisville Baptist Temple, 6565 Columbus Road NE, Louisville, OH 44641, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.. A funeral service will be held privately and he will be interred at Fairmount Memorial Park.

A fund has been set up for Erik’s son, Caiden, and checks may be made out and sent to the funeral home with the name Caiden O’Brien in the memo. The funeral home handling the fund is Cassaday-Turkle-Christian Funeral Home, 75 S. Union Ave., Alliance, Ohio 44601. Memorial contributions may also be made to the NRA, 11250 Waples Mill Road, Fairfax, VA 22030 or to Gideons International, P.O. Box 97251, Washington, D.C. 20090.

Click here to leave condolences for the family.

SMART-TD offers our sincere condolences to Brother O’Brien’s family, Local 1374, his friends and all who knew him.

Members of the SMART Transportation Division and other unionized rail workers came together for a day of protest May 10 outside the North American Rail Shippers (NARS) annual meeting.

Early in the day, SMART TD Kansas State Legislative Director Ty Dragoo, New Mexico State Legislative Director Don Gallegos, TD Auxiliary President Kathryn Seegmiller and many other union members, spouses and supporters spent hours outside and around the Kansas City Marriott Downtown in Kansas City, Mo., to draw attention to Class I carriers’ Precision Scheduled Railroading scheme, BNSF’s “Hi-Viz” attendance policy and the fact that National Rail Contract negotiations are approaching a third year.

“We had people joining in just walking by, people honking showing support as they drove by,” Dragoo said. “We had people from many different Class 1 railroads there, not just BNSF.”

Some of the protesters outside the North American Rail Shipper conference hold signs May 10 in Kansas City. (Photo courtesy Kansas SLD Ty Dragoo)

Dragoo thanked many of the lead organizers of the event, including SMART-TD National Safety Team Alternate Director — East and Kansas State Legislative Secretary Dan Bonawitz (Local 1409, Kansas City, Kan.), Kansas State Alternate Legislative Secretary Mike Scheerer (Local 94, Kansas City, Kan.), Legislative Representative Tim Alexander (Local 1532, Kansas City, Kan.) and Local 1532 Trustee Matt Collins, as well as 1532 member Jason Bluett and member Rodney Sparks of Local 5 (Kansas City, Mo.).

“Dan Bonawitz and his team have done a tremendous job getting the word out. These events are crucial as we wage the war of public opinion in legislatures across the country and congress,” Dragoo said. “Citizens need to know that their communities are in danger not only by reducing crews from a public safety standpoint, but the economic impact that has on communities when good union jobs leave. We will keep the fight up and we won’t back down!”

The demonstration outside the NARS gathering, which was attended by C-suite-level executives from many of the Class I freight railroads, was not the only coordinated demonstration that has taken place.

More than 100 people took part in informational pickets in Guernsey and Gillette, Wyo., Local 465 Chairman Kevin Knutson told the Platte County Record Times.

“The goal of this informational picket was to raise awareness with the public of the BNSF Railway policies that are not only degrading our workforce and harming our families but directly impacting our communities and increasing the cost of goods for all Americans,” he told newspaper reporter Mark DeLap. “The informational picket was also an effort to spotlight how BNSF Railway is directly at fault for the regressive policies causing these hardships.

“We, as families, friends, employees and retirees, have never experienced such an antagonistic approach to a workforce and their employees before,” Knutson said.

SMART TD Local 445 was in attendance at the May 15 rally in Ft. Madison Iowa.

A protest coordinated by TD officers, the SMART TD Auxiliary and other rail labor groups also occurred April 30 at BNSF parent company Berkshire Hathaway’s shareholder meeting.

Another rally was hosted by the Lee County Labor Chapter on Sunday, May 15 in Ft. Madison, Iowa. Dozens showed up at the informational protest and a news crew from ABC-affiliate WQAD8 was on hand to interview the protestors about their dissatisfaction with the Class I carriers.

There are two more informational protests scheduled in the greater Chicago area on May 25 and 26.

The first protest will be at the CN Glass Palace on Wednesday, May 25 at 5:30 a.m. Those attending should meet up on the corner of Ashland Ave. and Maple Rd.; or 1657 Maple Rd., Homewood, IL 60430. For more information see the first picture at the end of this post.

The second protest will be Thursday, May 26 at 5:30 a.m. at the Union Pacific Proviso Yard at 5050 W. Lake St., Melrose Park, IL 60160. For more information, see the second picture below.

Additional events will continue to be organized at all levels in order to inform the public and other groups about the concerns of rail workers.



May 27 is the last chance for local officers to book a room for the SMART Transportation Division Regional Training Seminar from June 7 to 10 at the historic St. Anthony Hotel in San Antonio, Texas.

Accommodations must be arranged at The St. Anthony’s website by May 27th!

This three-day event is an exciting opportunity for local leadership to engage one on one with union experts and is a true “regional meeting” meant to help fulfill the need for local officer trainings closer to home. The cost for TD local officers to attend the seminar is $50. Registration for the event is through the SMART website.

The seminar includes classes on local governance, the roles of local legislative representatives and local chairpersons in protecting members and on the SMART constitution. The classes are taught by national officers and other subject matter experts associated with SMART-TD.

TD President Jeremy Ferguson also is scheduled to meet attendees during this highly anticipated event in the heart of San Antonio’s downtown within walking district of the city’s Riverwalk and other attractions.

There will be plenty of opportunities to ask questions, share ideas and to build union solidarity.

To register for the seminar, visit https://register.smart-union.org/

For more information, contact Texas State Legislative Director Kamron Saunders at sld@ututx.org.

CLEVELAND, Ohio (May 20, 2022) — The Coordinated Bargaining Coalition (CBC) Rail Labor Unions* are preparing for in-person mediation sessions before the National Mediation Board (NMB) in Washington D.C., May 24-26. The Unions hope this will help to settle their ongoing national contract dispute.

After more than two years of bargaining, which can only be described as unproductive due to the carriers’ refusal to make or accept any worthwhile offers of settlement, negotiations entered the mediation process in January 2022.

“We are determined to keep this process moving as prescribed by the Railway Labor Act,” the CBC Chiefs said in a joint statement. “In recent weeks, the Surface Transportation Board has held hearings to investigate freight rail service meltdowns. Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle have expressed concern about a rail workforce that is understaffed and fatigued. To further raise the public’s concern about these issues, our members have held public protests at shareholders’ meetings. Just as they have failed in their responsibility to transport goods and materials for shippers in a timely manner, the railroads refuse to take the contract negotiating process seriously. Our members deserve better, and they have earned the right to a contract that has substantial wage increases and no concessions to their healthcare coverage.”

Supply-chain disruptions worsened by the so-called Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR) operating scheme and the carriers’ massive cuts to the labor force have contributed to inflation, empty shelves and higher prices. While Class I railroads continue to reap record profits in the last few years, rail workers who have transported goods and provided services all through the coronavirus pandemic have not seen their wages increase since July 2019.

“If the railroads intend to settle this round of bargaining with a voluntary agreement, as they claim, they must promptly come to the table and meaningfully engage with all of Rail Labor,” the presidents said. “Proper closure of this round of bargaining will not only benefit our hardworking members and their families; it will benefit our entire Nation by helping to alleviate the unprecedented resignations and staffing shortages, which are contributing to rising costs and supply chain issues. The time has come for our Nation’s railroads to be held accountable for their actions, and reconcile the long-term effects of their greed.”

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*The unions comprising the Coordinated Bargaining Coalition are: the American Train Dispatchers Association (ATDA); the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen / Teamsters Rail Conference (BLET); the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS); the International Association of Machinists (IAM); the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers (IBB); the National Conference of Firemen & Oilers/SEIU (NCFO); the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW); the Transport Workers Union of America (TWU); the Transportation Communications Union / IAM (TCU), including TCU’s Brotherhood Railway Carmen Division (BRC); and the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers (SMART-TD).

Collectively, the CBC unions represent more than 105,000 railroad workers covered by the various organizations’ national agreements, and comprise over 80% of the workforce who will be impacted by this round of negotiations.

Read this release in PDF form.

U.S. Rep Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) testifies before the House Rail and Pipelines Subcommittee on May 12.


Following up a hearing in late April on freight rail problems caused by Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR), members of the Surface Transportation Board appeared before the U.S. House Rail and Pipelines Subcommittee on May 12 to further discuss steps to be taken to heal the nation’s supply chain.

U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio delivers his statement on PSR.

“We are at a point of crisis, and we have to deal with that crisis meaningfully,” U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) said. “Freight service in the United States in America, we used to have the best freight rail in the world, is abysmal.

“The evil ghost of Hunter Harrison lives on. The legacy of this man is disgusting, what he did he has addicted the CEOs of the rail industry to watching the ticker on Wall Street and using their resources to benefit their shareholders and not run railroads like railroads.”

DeFazio mentioned an unlikely alliance — shippers, energy and chemical companies, oil companies, big agriculture and rail labor — coalescing as Class Is’ service-averse PSR scheme continues to rake in record profits and benefit shareholders and CEOs.

“We’ve got to act more decisively and more quickly,” DeFazio told the STB members. “We’re going downhill here really quickly. You’re not there to protect the bottom line of these railroads and the CEOs’ bonuses. You’re not there even for the shippers’ bottom line. But are there to make this system work better, keep costs lower and be competitive.

“I want freight railroads to be successful … but that success should be defined by the amount of freight they move across the nation, the amount of greenhouse gas they prevent and the safety of their employees and the communities they traverse. Stock buybacks, dividends can’t be the measure of success for freight rail in this country.”

Surface Transportation Board Chairman Martin Oberman was appointed by President Biden in January 2021 after 29 percent workforce cuts that began before the COVID pandemic’s start — a total of more than 45,000 employees — these cuts can be linked to the current deteriorated service.

Surface Transportation Board Chairman Martin Oberman testifies before the subcommittee on May 12.

“The railroads could not possibly have screwed up this stuff anymore than they are doing on their own. There’s nothing we could do to make it worse right now. It is in terrible shape as has been indicated by members of the committee and at our hearing,” Oberman said. “They’ve cut labor to below the bone, really. They have thousands of locomotives that they’ve mothballed … That’s the big picture. That’s the overview that concerns me most. In order to make up for their shortage of labor, they’re overworking and abusing the workforces they have. Long-term employees are literally leaving. So you’re not only [dealing with] a shortage of workers but you’re losing a tremendous amount of institutional knowledge.

“Rail labor reports particular difficulty directly caused by increased job uncertainty, worsening working conditions and insufficient incentive,” he said. “I am not optimistic about significant improvement in service in the near term.”

The STB’s April 26 hearing resulted in a unanimous rulemaking mandate made days later that Class I carriers be required to detail on-time performance for first- and last-mile service, submit recovery plans and provide frequent updates to the board. A notice of proposed rulemaking also would provide emergency relief for rail customers in urgent need of rail service.

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen asks about the BNSF “Hi-Viz” policy.

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, a Tennessee Democrat, brought up the “Hi-Viz” attendance policy that BNSF enacted in February, noting a letter he received from a 13-year retired veteran engineer that talked about the new challenges the punitive points-based attendance policy had given him in facing his medical challenges.

“Demands on employees have only increased,” Cohen said. “These unreasonable expectations are driving people out of the industry. They’re doing the minimum, which the federal government requires on FMLA and some other things, but they ought to be doing more than the minimum to bolster the workforce, care for their employees and bolster the rail industry in general.”

The low workforce levels are making it harder for service to recover, these “irresponsible” business cuts and layoff decisions by the railroads have also made people not want to come back, Oberman said.

“What could not be more clear is that the railroads do not have significant redundancy. It’s quite clear to me that they don’t have a cushion. As I have said many times, you wouldn ‘t send a football team out on the field without a backup quarterback. But what the railroads have done is just that,” he said. “They have set the rail crew levels at levels when they have no backup. So when there was COVID, when there’s a vortex, when there’s any disruption of workers getting to the job, the trains stopped running.

“Remember, when you lay off an experienced engineer or conductor and there’s no assurance they’ll come back and many of them did not — they went into other industries. To replace that person under FRA restrictions and just general common sense requires six months of training.”

U.S. Rep. Troy Nehls gives incorrect information about rail workers’ salaries.

U.S. Rep. Troy Nehls (R-Texas), railing against inflation and union density in the rail industry, himself produced some inflated and inaccurate estimate of the average Class I rail employee’s salary as being $137,000.

“At the hearing we had two weeks ago, the railroads came in and proudly proclaimed that they were trying to hire new conductors at $52,000 a year, not $137,000, and when I asked them how they were going to compete with Wal-Mart hiring truck drivers at $110,000, they didn’t have an answer,” Oberman countered.

U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts clears up misinformation by U.S. Rep. Troy Nehls about salaries of rail workers.

Nehls’ inaccurate statement also was later corrected by Rep. Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts, who also noted that rail workers were not rewarded for working through the pandemic and that nation rail contract negotiation have dragged on for more than two years.

“You can see the attention that the railroads have given to labor when you look at how much they’ve cut the labor force and how much they’re not respecting and looking out for their best interest, you can see that. They’re giving more money to their shareholders. There hasn’t been one major bonus or pay raise in those couple years that they’ve been working us out of COVID. No hint towards that,” STB member Robert Primus said.

STB Member Karen Hedlund also referred to the longer trains PSR uses that frequently dwarf the sidings on the lines, causing congestion and obstructing passenger rail’s on-time service and suspects that STB will need to address it.

“There’s one long-distance line that was above 80 percent,” she said. “Some of the shorter lines perform over 80 percent, but the long-distance lines do not perform well. When there’s a three-mile-long train in front of a little Amtrak train, the three-mile-long train may not be able to get out of the way for many, many miles.”

The federal Surface Transportation Board issued the following statement on Friday, May 6:

The Surface Transportation Board today announced that it will require certain railroads to submit service recovery plans as well as provide additional data and regular progress reports on rail service, operations, and employment.  These measures are meant to inform the Board’s assessment of further actions that may be warranted to address the acute service issues facing the rail industry and to promote industry-wide transparency, accountability, and improvements in rail service.

This decision follows extensive testimony on severe rail service issues reported by a wide range of witnesses — including agricultural, energy, and other shippers, as well as government officials, rail labor, and rail experts — during the Board’s April 26 and 27, 2022 public hearing in Urgent Issues in Freight Rail Service. The Board has also continued to review and monitor weekly rail service performance data, which indicate trends in deteriorating service. The decision focuses on the adequacy of recovery efforts involving BNSF Railway Company (BNSF), CSX Transportation (CSX), Norfolk Southern Railway Company (NS), and Union Pacific Railroad Company (UP), and it requires more comprehensive and customer-centric reporting of all Class I railroads’ service metrics.

“Our freight rail service hearing highlighted the grave concerns of shippers and others regarding freight rail service,” said Chairman Martin J. Oberman. “While the railroads have faced certain challenges over the last few years, the evidence produced at last week’s hearing is overwhelming that the railroads’ longstanding practice of reducing operating ratios by cutting employment levels, mothballing locomotives, and eliminating other essential resources are the central reasons  why farmers have been hours away from depopulating herds, manufacturing facilities have reduced operating hours, and shippers cannot get their products to market on time or receive essential raw materials for their companies. These failures are harming the nation’s economy and, in my view, are contributing to the inflationary forces affecting food and fuel in particular.”

“Requiring additional reporting from railroads may not be the final result of our hearing on service issues. Today’s decision is an immediate step the Board can take to enable needed monitoring of the improved efforts the railroads have been promising for months, and to determine if additional regulatory steps are necessary to promote reliable service.”

Today’s decision requires all Class I carriers to submit several specific reports on rail service, performance, and employment.  In addition, BNSF, CSX, NS, and UP are required to submit service recovery plans, progress reports, historical data, and participate in bi-weekly conference calls with Board staff.

A recording of the Board’s April 26 and 27, 2022 hearing in Urgent Issues in Freight Rail Service, may be viewed on the Board’s YouTube page.  Today’s decision in Urgent Issues in Freight Rail Service—Railroad Reporting, Docket No. EP 770 (Sub-No. 1), may be viewed and downloaded here.

While waiting for a response to our recent request to the National Mediation Board that a proffer of arbitration be issued by the Board to move our contract dispute to the next level, CBC unions participated in two additional days of mediated bargaining sessions with NCCC this week.

Once again, the nation’s class 1 rail carriers showed just how far removed they are from the realities that their employees and shippers are experiencing. Without regard for the beating that these rail carriers took in front of the Surface Transportation Board a week ago, and ignoring their continued record profit reports, the rail carriers continue to advance proposals at the bargaining table that they have previously been told are unacceptable to the CBC Unions and our members.

Due to the NCCC’s refusal to negotiate a fair agreement in good faith, all CBC Unions again request that the NMB proffer arbitration to the parties to stop the endless delays by the rail carriers.

As we advised in January and April, we had hoped that the involvement of the NMB would cause the industry to refocus on addressing the legitimate needs of the men and women whose labor generates their positive financial returns. That has not happened, and there is no indication that it will without allowing the remaining steps of the Railway Labor Act to play out to compel a favorable settlement.

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The unions comprising the Coordinated Bargaining Coalition are: the American Train Dispatchers Association (ATDA); the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen / Teamsters Rail Conference (BLET); the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS); the International Association of Machinists (IAM); the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers (IBB); the National Conference of Firemen & Oilers/SEIU (NCFO); the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW); the Transport Workers Union of America (TWU); the Transportation Communications Union / IAM (TCU), including TCU’s Brotherhood Railway Carmen Division (BRC); and the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers (SMART–TD). Collectively, the CBC unions represent more than 105,000 railroad workers covered by the various organizations’ national agreements, and comprise over 80% of the workforce who will be impacted by this round of negotiations.

Follow this link for a pdf of this release.

An arbitrator’s recent decision in a Public Law Board case brought by the SMART Transportation Division against BNSF resulted in a victory over the carrier.

In September 2017, BNSF unilaterally altered the working conditions for SMART-TD members in GO-386, who serve in and around Superior, Wisconsin, under the guise of Article IX of the 1985 UTU National Agreement (ID service notice), after the parties were unable to reach an amicable agreement. The changes included consolidating many Thru-Freight Service Pools into a single pool, as well as altering working rules under the collective bargaining agreement.

General Chairperson Larry Miller (GO-386) initiated Section 3 arbitration with the assistance of SMART-TD Vice Presidents John Whitaker and Jamie Modesitt. The union argued that BNSF’s ID Notice and changes to the working conditions were improper under the conditions allowed by Article IX of the 1985 National Agreement.

After hearing the case Dec. 14, 2021, arbiter Joshua M. Javits issued his decision April 14, 2022. He found:

  • that BNSF utilized the Article IX process to make efficiency changes, even though there was no new Interdivisional Service established;
  • that all of the evidence presented at the hearing suggested that BNSF was attempting to alter existing rules and agreements between the parties in a manner not intended by Article IX; and
  • that BNSF’s unilateral changes to employees’ negotiated working conditions were unreasonable, or justified under the Article IX process, and that the BNSF’s actions had improperly altered the work conditions of previous collective bargaining agreements.

Javits directed BNSF to reinstate the rules and working conditions that were in effect prior to the carrier’s imposition of the changes in October 2017.

“GC Miller and the rest of GO-386, as well as Vice Presidents Whitaker and Modesitt, should hold their heads high and be proud of this win,” SMART Transportation Division President Jeremy Ferguson said. “These types of victories are the building blocks for labor’s future success. These battles surely are not glamorous and they take time. We need to remain focused, persistent and maintain our determination that we all will hold carriers accountable while battling as a unit against their unjust impositions such as these. This is a huge success for SMART-TD once again and shows we are defending the agreements and protecting members rights to a fair and reasonable interpretation of agreements, especially as we start down the same path of arbitration for the Hi-Viz attendance policy.”

In response to the decision, members of SMART-TD Local 832 (Superior, Wis.) and 1175 (Duluth, Minn.) issued the following letter:

We would like to take a moment to thank General Chairperson Larry Miller and 1st Vice Chairperson of GCA 386 Tim Flynn for their unwavering hard work which resulted in a favorable ruling for our members regarding the contested Article IX that was imposed upon us in Superior, Wis.

Our local membership as a collective felt we were being unfairly disenfranchised from longstanding agreements put in place to create equitable outcomes for all parties tasked with supporting the multiple customers who depend on our ability to service their needs year-round, 24/7. Whether it’s spring flooding events or 45 degrees below zero, the agreement stated all parties would work together to create a reliable pact that our customers and community could count on.

Somewhere along the way, that alliance was broken, and with it our resolve. A feeling of isolation, dismay and resentment fell over the membership, yet we carried on for multiple years. So did Larry, Tim and others to make our voices heard. It would be easy to dwell on the negative impacts and feelings of animosity that soon arose after and during this time. Looking forward, hopefully with collaboration this ruling creates an opportunity to once again bring everyone into the fold and create an environment of inclusivity instead of isolation.

To Larry, Tim and everyone behind the scenes we haven’t named, we want to thank you for never losing sight of what this favorable outcome would mean for the working environment and overall mental well-being of the Superior, Wis., terminal and their families. Once again THANK YOU!

We are proud to have you in our corner and grateful for your representation throughout this time.

Sincerely,

Your Brothers and Sisters

SMART-TD Locals 0832 Superior WI & 1175 Duluth, MN

The full case, Public Law Board 7986, Award No. 1, is available to view below in PDF form.

CLEVELAND, Ohio —Upon the announcement by President Joe Biden of his nomination of five candidates to serve upon the Amtrak Board of Directors, SMART Transportation Division President Jeremy Ferguson, in conjunction with the TD National Legislative Department, issued the following statement on April 29, 2022:

“As has been the case since the very onset of his administration, President Biden has taken a measured and conscientious approach in making choices for the good of the nation. He continues to prioritize the concerns of labor as he and the DOT pursue an unprecedented and historic transformation of the nation’s passenger-rail network. We appreciate this focus, and we pledge to remain actively engaged as the Build Back Better vision is pursued. We hope for a swift confirmation process for the nominees so that Amtrak can expand its service thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and provide robust employment opportunities well into the future.”

Read more about the nominees here.

Effective April 25, 2022, the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) is offering in-person appointments at its nationwide network of 53 field offices.

Individuals can schedule appointments by calling the agency’s toll-free telephone number, (877) 772-5772, and speaking to a representative. If they experience a lengthy wait time on this call, they may be given the option of receiving a return call, although this feature is not available at all times due to large call volume. RRB representatives are available between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. each weekday, except for Federal holidays. For planning purposes, please note that the agency’s busiest times are early in the week and during the first part of each month.

Customers can also reach out to individual offices by mail or fax, as well as by sending a secure message using the link on each field office’s web page at RRB.gov. Using the “Field Office Locator” tab at the top of the home page allows someone to access each office’s web page and contact information.

While most business with the RRB does not require in-person service, but can be handled by telephone or in writing, the agency has also added secure lockboxes or door slots at the office entrances for customer convenience. These can be used if someone needs to quickly drop off documents without needing to communicate with a representative and will be checked on a daily basis.

Other options for obtaining services 24 hours a day without the need to talk to an agency representative include the automated menus available through the toll-free number and the myRRB system on the agency website. The following services are accessible through these avenues.

  • Letters verifying retirement/survivor benefit rates;
  • Service and compensation statement;
  • Replacement Medicare card;
  • Duplicate most recent tax statement (1099, 1099-R);
  • General benefit information;
  • Unemployment/sickness benefit application/claim status and payment information; and
  • RRB field office addresses.

For certain automated phone services, an individual’s social security number and/or railroad retirement claim number are required. In addition, for certain unemployment or sickness application/claim information, a person must provide their social security number and the benefit PIN printed on the back of the provided claim form.

Railroad employees who have established a myRRB account can login and complete the following actions:

  • Apply for and claim unemployment benefits;
  • Claim sickness benefits;
  • Check the status of their unemployment or sickness benefit claims;
  •  View their railroad service and compensation history; and
  • Get an estimate of retirement benefits.

RRB offices have been closed to the public since March 16, 2020, three days after the coronavirus pandemic was declared a national emergency. Since that time, services have been limited to telephone and electronic communication, with agency employees continuing to process benefit applications and incoming mail.