The SMART Transportation Division Discipline Income Protection Program (DIPP) is decreasing its monthly assessments from 96 cents to 81 cents per $1 of daily benefits, effective January 1, 2021.
Participants in the Plan may elect to increase their benefit level or modify their coverage at any time by submitting the appropriate form to the Transportation Division office. Next month, SMART-TD will be communicating these reduced assessments to Local Treasurers so that the necessary changes are made to payroll deductions.
This announcement is informational and no action is required on the part of plan participants at this time.
DIPP trustees are SMART General President Joseph Sellers Jr., SMART General Secretary-Treasurer Joseph Powell and SMART-TD President Jeremy R. Ferguson.
As a result of the continued increase in claims volume and associated costs, the SMART Transportation Division Discipline Income Protection Program (DIPP) is increasing its monthly assessments from 81 cents to 96 cents per $1 of daily benefits, effective July 1, 2018.
Members may elect to reduce their benefit level or cancel coverage at any time by submitting the appropriate form to SMART TD. If a member chooses to keep his or her coverage as it is, the current benefit level will remain in place, and members who pay their monthly assessments by payroll deduction will have the higher monthly assessments automatically deducted from their paychecks.
DIPP trustees are SMART General President Joseph Sellers Jr., SMART Secretary-Treasurer Richard L. McClees and SMART TD President John Previsich.
Effective April 2, 2013, item 12 has been added to the list of exclusions for which benefits under the Discipline/Income Protection Program will not be paid to a participant who is suspended or discharged from employment for disciplinary/decertification reason.
Item 12 has been added to the list as a result of action taken by SMART Transportation Division Board of Directors.
The complete list of exclusions is as follows:
1. Conduct endangering the life or livelihood of a fellow employee;
2. Unavailability for duty, sleeping on duty or missing calls;
4. Misuse, theft or destruction of property of the participant’s employer;
5. Falsification of reports;
6. Failure to take or pass a required examination;
7. Failure to qualify for mandatory promotion;
8. Use, possession or evidence of intoxicants or illegal drugs while on duty or subject to duty;
9. Discipline due to criminal or civil action;
10. An act or acts, or failure to act, which constitutes a violation of public policy;
11. Involvement in altercations, verbal or physical; or
12. If decertified, the failure to exercise seniority to its fullest that does not require a change in residence.
Delivering on the theme of the 2012 regional meetings – “We will not back down” – UTU International President Mike Futhey told more than 1,000 attendees at the Memphis meeting how the UTU is using every tool available – negotiations, legislative and legal — to defend its members’ jobs and workplace safety.
* On the Belt Railway of Chicago, where the carrier is demanding contract changes to permit one person crews at carrier discretion, the UTU has asked the National Mediation Board to declare a bargaining impasse. Belt Railway General Chairperson Chris Votteler’s negotiating team, assisted by International Vice President Delbert Strunk, faces a carrier that refuses to take crew consist changes off the table – three years following start of negotiations — even though the carrier is party to a moratorium on the issue.
“We will take every action necessary to protect our members’ jobs. We will not stand down on crew consist,” Futhey said.
* As to conductor certification — mandated by Congress and put into regulatory language by the Federal Railroad Administration – Norfolk Southern has filed an FRA-required certification plan without discussion and coordination with general chairpersons.
The NS proposed plan seeks to provide a pilot for remedial training only for conductors who have not traveled over a territory for 36 months, rather than the 12 months required in current agreements; and then seeks to place the burden of notification solely on the conductor rather than tracking the time period electronically. Additionally, the NS plan does not discuss procedures it will follow in an investigation even though FRA regulations require railroads to provide all documents and the list of witnesses prior to a hearing.
Futhey said the UTU will not permit “a tortured interpretation” of congressional and FRA intent, and will work to ensure every railroad follows the letter and intent of the law and regulations prior to the required Sept. 1 deadline for certifying conductors.
* In Pennsylvania, Norfolk Southern is attempting to disregard state safety laws and regulations through federal preemption affecting workplace safety at hump yards. “We will take every action necessary to prevent railroads from weakening workplace safety protections, whether at the state or federal level,” Futhey said.
* Pointing to millions of dollars in fines assessed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration against railroads that have harassed, intimidated, disciplined and fired workers for reporting injuries and workplace safety concerns, Futhey reminded members that UTU designated legal counsel is pledged to assist in bringing and pursuing such complaints. Information on filing these complaints is available at the UTU website at www.utu.org by searching “OSHA.”
“We are not going to allow carriers to continue their pattern of harassment and intimidation of workers who are injured on the job,” Futhey said. “The FRA and OSHA recently signed a letter of intent to investigate jointly all complaints of carrier harassment and intimidation, and the FRA has informed each carrier of its intent to work with OSHA to end the long-standing practice of carriers disciplining injured workers “where the facts fail to support the charges. We are lawyered up, too, and will take this to wherever we must to protect the interests of our members.”
* Recalling the horrific murder of a UTU-member bus driver in Los Angeles, the fatal shooting of a train-crew member near New Orleans, and assaults on bus operators and intrusions into locomotive cabs by armed robbers elsewhere, Futhey said the UTU is working with lawmakers and regulators to implement better safeguards for its air, bus and rail members. The FRA recently imposed a requirement that all new and remanufactured locomotive cabs be equipped with secure cab locks.
“I promise every member that the UTU will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our members to ensure their safety. Our voice will be heard,” Futhey said.
As to the state of the union, Futhey said the International’s general fund balance is improving as carriers bring back furloughed workers, that the UTU Insurance Association now has a $28 million surplus and is financially strong, and the Discipline Income Protection Plan (DIPP) is financially sound with more than $10 million in assets.
Futhey emphasized that while competing plans often seek ways to deny payment of claims, the UTU’s DIPP is aggressive in paying claims. Futhey cited an example of two workers on the same assignment on CSX – one covered by the UTU’s DIPP and the other by a competing plan – who were both suspended. “Where the competing plan denied the claim, DIPP paid the claim. End of story.”
As for the UTU’s disability insurance plan covering bus and rail members, Futhey said it has paid out more than $22 million in disability benefits for off-duty injuries and is proving to be a valuable benefit.
As to organizing, Futhey said that since January 2008, when he took office, the UTU has an unprecedented record of organizing one new property every seven weeks. One of the first post-merger coordinations has been the joint strengthening with the Sheet Metal Workers International Association of organizing efforts, which makes greater resources available for organizing transportation, building trades and production workers.
Futhey also explained how the UTU negotiating strategy in national handling has already paid off for rail members covered by the national rail contract.
“When we entered national rail contract negotiations, our strategy was to hold the monthly cost sharing premium under $200 — rather than allow it to escalate to $300 or more — in exchange for somewhat higher copays,” Futhey said. “The Affordable Care Act now eliminates many of those copays, saving affected members out-of-pocket for many health care services while those members enjoy one of the lowest cost-sharing premiums in the public and private sectors.”
As the perfectly healthy man told the obituary editor of his local newspaper, “Reports of my demise are grossly exaggerated.”
And so it is with the UTU Insurance Association (UTUIA) and the UTU’s Discipline Income Protection Plan (DIPP).
Vicious and absolutely false rumors are circulating that the UTU and UTUIA are going out of business, and that UTUIA policy holders and DIPP participants should flee to competing organizations.
Not surprisingly, one of these false rumors originated with a competitor to DIPP.
The plain dealing truth is that neither the UTU nor the UTUIA are going out of business.
The UTUIA, which is wholly owned by its policy holders and regulated by the Ohio Department of Insurance, is doing business as usual. There is no change in the status, service, or security of the UTUIA. UTU General Secretary & Treasurer Kim Thompson reported earlier this year that the UTUIA earned more than $400,000 from operations in 2010 and remains financially strong with nearly $26 million in surplus.
Similarly, DIPP is its strongest in years. Participants in the DIPP also should keep in mind – and this has been consistently and frequently proven – that the DIPP is steadfast in looking for ways to pay claims of participants, while non-UTU plans are known to look for ways to avoid paying claims.
In addition to the UTU DIPP being the largest and most effective discipline income protection plan, it is the only program of its kind regulated by the Department of Labor – publishing financial statements, holding its funds in trust and audited annually by a public accounting firm.
The UTU, the UTUIA and the DIPP are alive and well and will continue to serve UTU members. Don’t allow mischievous and self-serving rumor mongers upset your financial security.
Nobody spends someone else’s dollars as carefully as we spend our own.
The UTU International leadership is especially sensitive to the fact that members entrust us with their own hard-earned dollars, and every member rightfully expects their union to gain the most value for their dues money. We do not take this obligation lightly.
Since taking office in January 2008, we have instituted new cost controls and conservative investment policies that, even in the face of significant furloughs by rail carriers and problems in financial markets, have made the UTU more efficient and financially secure.
The International’s General Fund, as detailed in the most recent GS&T report, has grown since the Futhey administration took office almost 18 months ago — from $2.1 million to $4 million, which is a 90 percent increase.
The General Fund pays for International operations, including employee wages and benefits, travel tied to assistance provided general and local committees of adjustment, and headquarters rent.
Separately, our strike fund has grown by 45 percent, to $2.7 million, and our convention fund is on track to have the necessary minimum on hand to pay traditional and contemplated costs of the eleventh quadrennial convention in 2011.
Total International funds have grown from $7.5 million, when we took office in January 2008, to more than $13 million, which is an increase of more than 70 percent. This is in the face of sharp carrier cutbacks of employees — many being UTU members — in response to a sour economy.
Among cost-cutting actions was the reduction of one full-time administrative officer in the Cleveland headquarters and redistribution of that work to headquarters staff and other International officers. We have gone from 15 full-time International officers to 11, which is more than a 25 percent reduction.
Travel expenses have been reduced by combining International officer assignments and assigning officers geographically closer to the committees they are assisting. Every travel expense is checked to ensure it is necessary and proper.
Our International funds are invested conservatively so they are available when needed without undue risk of principal.
Our investment advisers are paid directly for sound financial advice and do not profit by moving our money from one investment alternative to another, or as a percentage of short-term investment gains. As a result, our International finances have withstood the effects of this recession and associated financial calamities far better than most organizations.
The UTUIA, meanwhile, earned more than $300,000 from operations during the first quarter of 2009. The UTUIA remains strong with more than $23 million in surplus, as recently validated through an annual audit.
As for the DIPP, premiums exceeded claims for the first quarter 2009, which boosted the fund’s balance. We continue monitoring this fund, as claims are tied directly to the level of carrier discipline.
We have met — and continue to meet — with carrier officers to discuss what we consider to be arbitrary discipline that unjustifiably damages employee morale, impeding our ultimate goal of providing world-class transportation service.
At the local level, we are assisting local treasurers through workshops, individual assistance and the UTU University to better equip them to carry out their duties in managing their local’s funds.
The financial state of the United Transportation Union is strong and secure, and we intend to keep it that way through careful spending and improved productivity within every department and through every activity of the International.
As we approach the six-month point of our administration, we are pleased to report that UTU finances have been improving steadily.
When we took office Jan. 1, there were forebodings of financial disaster just around the corner. For sure, there were financial difficulties, but nothing of the nature that, as we had been told, required us to surrender our independence to another organization to bail us out.
In fact, the combination of internal cost reductions — including an end to wasteful spending — plus additional dues dollars have increased our total International funds by more than $2 million. While that certainly seems like a lot of money, our cash on hand is still shy of a minimum safety level sufficient to weather strikes and other unexpected costs.
So long as we are not hit with a sudden financial shock, we will continue to add to our fund balances, each day growing financially stronger. We are pledged to continue strict cost controls — especially with regard to travel — in the face of sharply higher airline fares and health-care costs for our International staff.
The surplus of the United Transportation Union Insurance Association also continues to increase, and the surplus is on track to grow in excess of half-a-million dollars in calendar year 2008.
This is result of additional policy sales and a favorable trend in claims presented.
The UTUIA is one of the nation’s few remaining union-friendly insurance companies. Where competing insurance companies frequently are engaged in anti-union activities, such as lobbying for corporate-favored public policy, the UTUIA is an insurance company owned by union members, and it operates solely for the benefit of union families.
As for our Discipline Income Protection Plan (DIPP), it continues to face financial pressures flowing from the continued excessive discipline being issued by some carriers.
We recognize also that UTU members have been stepping up to the plate and supporting DIPP with their participation.
And we remain proud that the UTU DIPP remains steadfast in looking for ways to pay claims of participants. By contrast, other job benefit plans continue to look for ways to avoid paying claims.
As we have said previously, if the DIPP is to remain a viable service to UTU members, then UTU members must participate in large numbers. We again ask all participants to continue their membership in the DIPP fund, and to encourage your brothers and sisters also to participate.