Lodge 6760 held an educational seminar September 23, 2008 in Portsmouth, Ohio. The seminar was conceived by Local Chairman Steve Wilhelm and was underwritten by the law firm of C. Marshall Friedman, designated counsel for TCU.
The Lodge holds periodic educational conferences or seminars usually to train its officers or to apprise the membership on current affairs of the union. This seminar was unique and was geared toward union benefits, contract rights, railroad retirement benefits, Federal Employers' Liability Act, MNPL, a possible new student carmen agreement, health, dental, vision care,sickness and unemployment benefits.
Portsmouth was selected as the host city due to the many new Carmen and Student Carmen who have been hired to work in the car shop.
The meeting was kicked off by Lodge President Phil Amadon, who welcomed everyone to the event. President Amadon spoke about the state of Lodge and stressed the importance of all members to support pro-union legislators.
Local Chairman Steve Wilhelm spoke about the representational process available to lodge members. He stated that Lodge 6760 is the largest local lodge that represents members employed by Norfolk Southern. As such, Lodge 6760 has the largest local protective committee in Unit 200, an 11-member protective committee, 2 of which are stationed at Portsmouth. These officers ensure that all negotiated agreements and benefits are made available to every member.
Local Chairman Wilhelm thanked Don Roe and Jim Gambill for their hard work in preparing for the seminar and the manner in which they have represented the members at Portsmouth.
Brother Wilhelm also spoke of the importance of the IAM MNPL program, which offers support to political candidates who are labor friendly. Additionally, the Local Chairman urged every lodge member to sign up for MNPL check-off and stressed the importance of supporting Barack Obama for President of the United States.
Donna Cross and Karin Dawson from the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board at Huntington, WV were introduced next. They spoke about rail employees' sickness, unemployment and retirement benefits. After their presentation members asked many questions, which were all addressed. Donna and Karin setup a laptop computer and offered retirement annuity estimates for members and their spouses.
Dawn Fairhust representing Aetna Insurance out of the Washington, D.C. office addressed the group. Dawn spoke about supplemental sickness benefits and dental insurance as provided under the National Railroad Plan. She stressed the importance of filing claims within the first 60 days.
Local Chairman Steve Wilhelm introduced Robert Pless as the Keynote speaker of the seminar. Mr. Pless, an investigator for the law firm of C. Marshall Friedman, spoke about the need for each union member to keep in close contact with his or her state and Federal legislators, asking them to support pending bills that promote railroad jobs. Mr. Pless also informed the members of the many advantages railroad employees have as a result of being protected under the Federal Employers' Liability Act.
The next speaker was Brotherhood Railway Carmen Division Assistant General President Marvin Napier. Marvin spoke about the recent 280 Agreement and how it will bring many new jobs to the Portsmouth Car Shop.
Brother Wilhelm introduced International Representative Jack Wright. Brother Wright informed the membership of a tentative new Student Carmen Agreement, which, if, signed by the carrier and union, will provide better training, job protection and added compensation for Student Carmen.
The final speaker of the evening was Assistant International Representative Roger Cain. Brother Roger gave a brief review of some of his duties, including handling START and discipline cases for our members. He also indicated that he is available for membership assistance anytime.
After the speakers finished, a question and answer session took place. The evening concluded with a raffle which benefited the IAM, MNPL fund drive.