Dear Leader McConnell, Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer, and Leader McCarthy:
On behalf of the Rail Labor Division (RLD) of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), the American Short Line and Railroad Association (ASLRRA), Association of American Railroads (AAR), and the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division (BMWED), we applaud the House and Senate for addressing the needs of railroad workers by making much needed changes to Railroad Unemployment Insurance (RUI). As negotiations continue, we jointly call on Congress to ensure these proposals are included in a final agreement.
Unlike the average U.S. worker, railroad employees do not receive unemployment benefits through state administered unemployment insurance programs. Instead, unemployed railroaders receive these benefits through RUI, administered by the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB). As a result, Congressional efforts to provide assistance to state run unemployment plans do not provide any relief to railroad workers who have lost their jobs. For this reason, it is critical that the following items remain incorporated in this package:
- The same increase and extension of RUI benefits that are proposed for standard unemployment programs, and the funds to provide these benefits.
- As provided in H.R. 6201 , a waiver of the seven-day waiting period for both unemployment and sick leave, as well as funding to pay for this waiver.
- Also as provided in H.R. 6201 for state programs, administrative funding for RRB to run the RUI program. We call for the proposed funding level of $10M.
- The removal of RUI from the effects of sequester, which causes an artificial reduction in unemployment benefits, below statutorily provided amounts.
As these packages are negotiated, labor and management respectfully request that railroad workers and the critical programs that serve them will be included.