Amtrak Chair Carper gains boost from Senate leader

Amtrak Board Chairman Tom Carper has won endorsement from Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) for renomination by President Obama. That nomination would require Senate confirmation. Carper, a former mayor of McComb, Ill., has served on the Amtrak board since March 2008 and has been its chairman since January 2009. Said Durbin in his letter […]

Signal, bridge defects eyed in hazmat mishap

PAULSBORO, N.J. — A signal  problem and/or a bridge-locking defect may have been contributing factors in a Conrail bridge collapse and CSX train derailment here Nov. 30. Paulsboro is some 20 miles southeast of Philadelphia. Some 12,500 gallons of the hazardous material vinyl chloride spilled into a creek from four derailed tank cars. There were […]

Civil fines upped for school bus operators

Civil penalties for school bus firms operating unsafe equipment have been increased, effective Dec. 27, by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The regulation applies to all schools or school systems who own or operate school buses. All school buses, whether in interstate or intrastate operation, must meet the federal standards. The new maximum civil […]

RRB awards Palmetto GBA new Medicare contract

The Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) has once again awarded its Medicare contract to Palmetto GBA, which will continue to handle Medicare Part B claims for Railroad Retirement beneficiaries. The award, which was announced Sept. 28, names Palmetto as the Railroad Specialty Medicare Administrative Contractor (SMAC). The transition to the new contract award does not have […]

Rail-member vision plan improvements on tap

UTU members covered by the Railroad Employees’ National Vision Plan will see improvements in the program effective Jan. 1 when benefits formerly provided by VSP will be administered by EyeMed Vision Care.  Enhancements include:  • A larger national network of providers, consisting of both independent and retail-affiliated providers;  • Five of the top six eye-care providers […]

Distractions kill, maim and end careers

Distractions occur everywhere in our daily lives, but when those in safety sensitive positions are distracted on the job, the results too often result in death or career-ending injuries. A collaborative effort among the Federal Railroad Administration, rail labor and carriers has been launched to educate and raise awareness through peer-to-peer programs of the dangers […]

Medicare premiums to increase in January

Medicare beneficiaries will see their standard Medicare Part B monthly premium increase by $5 monthly to $104.90 beginning in January. A small number of beneficiaries will continue to pay higher premiums based on their modified adjusted gross income, which depends on the extent to which an individual beneficiary’s modified gross income exceeds $85,000 ($170,000 for […]

Note a recall of medication Pradaxa(r)

The manufacturer of the prescription medication Pradaxa(r) is voluntarily recalling all patient-level lots of 75mg dosage of the medication. The reason is a potential packaging defect that the manufacturer says may compromise the integrity of the bottle and permit moisture to enter and impair the effective dose. If you have the 75 mg. dose of […]

Former Dem leader urges cooperation, compromise

One of labor’s strongest friends on Capitol Hill was Rep. Marty Frost, a centrist Democrat from Texas who served in the House of Representatives from 1979 to 2005, and who served two terms as chair of the House Democratic Caucus. Post Election Day, Frost wrote an opinion article published by The Hill, an independent newspaper […]