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FRA finds UP violated Hours of Service law after SMART-TD member not afforded off-duty period or interim release after “busted call”

CHICAGO (April 17)—The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has confirmed a SMART-TD complaint that Union Pacific Railroad violated the Hours of Service law by not affording an employee a proper statutory off-duty period or a period of interim release after the railroad “busted the call” of the employee after he had departed his place of rest.

FRA’s Region VI handled the investigation and will forward its findings to its Office of Chief Counsel with a recommendation for civil penalties.

In an April 5 letter to SMART-TD Illinois Legislative Director Robert W. Guy, FRA Region VI Administrator Steve Fender outlined his office’s findings that stemmed from an incident on February 4, 2017.

“On February 4,” Fender wrote, “UP crew management called SMART-TD member and ordered him to report for duty in Salem at 5:03 p.m. for a deadhead to Dexter (employees working this pool receive 3 hour call). The SMART-TD member accepted the call to report and departed his residence at 3:05 p.m.”

“At 3:57 p.m.,” Fender continued, “while in route, crew management again contacted him and this time advised that the call to report was cancelled. Upon being notified….SMART-TD member contacted crew management and requested…. 10 hours of undisturbed rest, since he had departed his place of rest.”

The request for rest was denied, and ultimately the SMART-TD member was called at 6:40 p.m. to report for duty at 9:40 p.m. to perform covered service. Having complied, the SMART-TD member worked the assignment and went off duty at 7:17 a.m. at the away from home terminal on February 5, 16 hours 12 minutes after departing his place of rest.

In closing Fender notes that “at no time between departure from his place of rest at 3:05 p.m. on February 4, and being relieved from covered service at 7:17 a.m. on February 5 did SMART-TD member receive a statutory off-duty period, or interim period of release.”

“I want to commend and thank our affected member for getting involved and getting this information to his local leaders,” said SMART-TD Illinois Legislative Director Robert W. Guy. “I also want to thank SMART-TD Local #979 Local Chairman Matt Tackett for his detailed report that surely helped FRA come to its conclusion.”

“Matt used the FRA’s Hours of Service Compliance Manual for Freight Operations to initially determine that a violation may have occurred,” Guy said. “Once I reviewed the material it was clear that something wasn’t right in what the UP did and I forwarded the information off to the FRA and asked them to investigate.”

“The process played out exactly as it should have,” Guy said. “A member questioned the railroad’s actions and got his Local leaders detailed information and in turn contacted my office where I was able to confirm, the result of which is a violation of the carrier and hopefully the education necessary to prevent this from happening again.”

Whenever SMART-TD members, either freight or passenger, have any questions or concerns regarding Hours of Service they are encouraged to contact their Local leaders as soon as possible. Also, FRA’s Hours of Service Compliance Manual’s for both freight and passenger operations are available for all members at SMART-TD’s Illinois Legislative Board website at by clicking on “Federal Agencies”.

“I encourage all members to make themselves aware of these valuable manual’s,” Guy said. “They can help our members better understand what the carrier’s responsibility is when considering rest and hours of service and can lead, like in this example, to a violation of the carrier if they choose not to abide by the HSL.”

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