BLET wins significant ruling in Railroad Retirement Board appeal

Certain workers claim rights to regain lost retirement credits

The Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) recently ruled in favor of Ohio employees formerly working on a segment of CSX track known as the Walker-Wilsonburg Line, granting the workers the rights to regain lost Railroad Retirement credits.

"Locomotive engineers and conductors were subject to an improper abandonment in 1986," said Tim Hanely, Chairman of the Ohio State Legislative Board and Legislative Representative of Division 36 (Newark, Ohio). "Now they have the opportunity to regain their lost RRB credits and put them back on track to retirement."

The case stemmed from an abandonment of the track in 1986. At that time, CSX re-routed all through freight and subsequently furloughed all employees on that segment. In 1992 the Court of Appeals upheld an ICC ruling, which determined that CSX had improperly abandoned the line and as a result the employees were awarded Oregon Short Line labor protections. Although most of the protection claims were finally paid by the CSX in 2002, the employees never received their credits from those lost months.

Ohio's Legislative Board began the process of appealing to RRB in 2004 after meeting with some of the Walker-Wilsonburg employees. Even though the first level of appeal was lost at RRB, Hanely petitioned Labor Member V.M. Speakman's office for a final ruling. RRB sided with Hanely's position that as a rule of law, once the carriers paid any money to the employees, it was subject to RRB taxes and therefore creditable.

"Mr. Speakman and Ohio's District Managers are some of the best at what they do," Hanely said. "The RRB has a customer satisfaction rate of over 95 percent. That's over 20 percent higher than Social Security.

"We're very fortunate to have a group of government employees who represent the Railroad Retirement Board, and don't choose sides like other agencies tend to do," he said.

Some employees were missing four or five years worth of credits. This ruling from the RRB's Board of Appeals allows them to reclaim those credits and retire in a timely fashion.

"Vice President Paul Sorrow, CSXT Northern Rail Lines General Chairman Rick Finamore and Division 36 Local Chairman Gordon Agnew all played integral parts on obtaining this ruling." Hanely said. "An important lesson we all learned is to not give up on an issue."

Any former Walker-Wilsonburg employee can contact Chairman Hanely at (614) 833-2650 to learn more about getting credit for their missing time, or to receive a copy of RRB's ruling.




© 2006 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen