Over the past three weeks, while the country has been engrossed in a national election, the COVID-19 pandemic has been worsening. Just last week the U.S. crested 180,000 daily new infections for the first time, after surpassing 100,000 barely a week prior. Hospitalization rates are spiking as well, rising to over 67,000 in the past few days. These numbers dwarf those from March and April of this year, when the first COVID-19 spike reached its peak. On March 27th, for instance, there were 17,330 new cases reported.
Dear Senator: We are writing to you to ask you to support the “Railroad Unemployment Equity and Fairness Act (“REEF Act”), S. 4860, sponsored by Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).
On behalf of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), I am pleased to respond to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) notification of proposed Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs using Hair (HMG). TTD consists of 33 affiliate unions representing workers in all modes of transportation who are subject to federally mandated drug tests due to their employment. We therefore have a vested interest in the proposal.
On behalf of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), I am pleased to provide comments on the Surface Transportation Board’s proposal to modify revenue thresholds for the classification of rail carriers. By way of background, TTD consists of 33 affiliate unions, including unions representing freight rail workers who may be impacted by the granting of this petition.
DOL’s proposal would revise the agency’s interpretation on whether workers are considered employees or independent contractors under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The proposal seeks to amend the existing multi-factor test used to determine a worker’s status, placing elevated emphasis on two core factors, including nature and degree of the worker’s control over the work (e.g. schedule, assignments, and ability to work for other companies) and the worker’s opportunity for profit or loss. DOL claims that the proposal will “benefit workers and businesses and encourage innovation and flexibility in the economy.”
Through this notice, HHS has issued proposed guidelines that would permit the use of hair follicles as a valid specimen for federally impelled drug tests. If adopted, employers would be able to conduct hair testing in concert with, or in lieu of, urine or oral fluid tests that have been previously approved by HHS. In issuing these proposed guidelines, the Department is acting to comply with Sec. 5402(b) of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, which required that HHS develop guidelines for hair testing of commercial motor vehicle drivers. We write today to formally request that HHS hold a public, virtual, hearing on its proposed guidelines in order to discuss the proposal with impacted stakeholders and to further extend the comment period for 60 days.
This week, the Committee will be holding a hearing entitled “Passenger and Freight Rail: The Current Status of the Rail Network and the Track Ahead.” On behalf of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD) and our affiliated unions representing passenger and freight rail workers, we appreciate the Committee’s focus on the industry at an extremely timely moment. Across the sector, the pandemic continues to wreak havoc, threatening both the health and livelihoods of employees. At the same time, freight railroads, at the insistence of Wall Street investors and hedge fund managers, have pursued operating practices that undermine basic tenets of rail safety, ask frontline workers to do more with less, and threaten the reliable and efficient customer service that should be the hallmark of this industry. Given the critical nature of these issues, TTD would like to submit the following for your consideration.
On behalf of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), I am pleased to respond to the Coast Guard’s request for information entitled “Request for Information on Integration of Automated and Autonomous Commercial Vessels and Vessel Technologies into the Maritime Transportation System.” TTD consists of 33 affiliate unions representing workers in all modes of transportation, including those in the commercial maritime industry. We therefore have a vested interest in this request.
As the representatives of millions of essential workers who have put their lives on the line to work through the pandemic, we urge you to immediately pass H.R. 8504, introduced by Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter DeFazio, which extends the airline worker Payroll Support Program (PSP).
On behalf of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), I am pleased to respond to the exemption request filed by the Association of American Railroads (AAR) and American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA). TTD consists of 33 affiliate unions representing workers in all modes of transportation, including commercial motor vehicle operators in the railroad industry covered by FMCSA hours of service requirements. We therefore have a vested interest in this exemption.
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