Railroad Whistleblower Defense Efforts
Railroad workers - like other workers - are ostensibly protected by a whistleblower law which was designed to prevent employer retaliation for reporting safety hazards , sustaining a workplace injury or other safety related concerns on the job. To get a better idea of what your rights are, see the Summary of Rail Whistleblower Rights undere the Federal Rail Safety Act (FRSA). Also worth a look at is the OSHA Fact Sheet: Whistleblower Protection for Railroad Workers
While the law may "guarantee" railroad workers a certain level of rights in this regard, unfortunately, its enforcement is lacking. In addition, the rail carriers have discovered numerous loopholes and use the law to their advantage. See the information below to learn more about the law and efforts to make it work for railroad workers.
This article was written by Steve Desavouret, a founding member of Railroad Workers United. He was injured on the job in 2008, and eventually retired after a long and difficult battle with a Class 1 rail carrier. Steve worked as a car inspector in the Chicago area for 20 years, with BNSF, Metra and CN-IC.
Steve invites railroad workers who have been injured at work to join together with others who are actively engaged in whistleblower cases. Contact him in Chicago at firstname.lastname@example.org ; or contact fellow whistleblower and RWU member Jen Wallis in the Seattle area at email@example.com.
Articles About Railroad Whistleblowers
Hundreds of railroad workers have filed retaliation complaints under the whistleblower law over the last decade. And while many have quickly"won" their whistleblower case in front of OSHA, the rail carriers - in EVERY SINGLE INSTANCE - have appealed the case to civil court, where the case drags on for years. The worker may "win" here as well, only to have the carrier appeal once again, or offer an out-of-court settlement under which the worker is muzzled. Read the history of just one case - that of BNSF Conductor Curtis Rookaird - below:
RWU Visits the Whistleblower Advisory Protection Committee in Washington, DC
In the Spring of 2016, Railroad Workers United requested that the Whitleblower Protection Advisory Committee (WPAC), an arm of OSHA, hear from rank & file railroad worker whistleblowers and activists at their Spring, 2016 meeting. After raising funds for transportation and lodging on-line, RWU was able to send a number of people to testify before WPAC, as well as the OSHA field managers on two different dates in April, 2016. Jeff Kurtz, recently retired engineer and former Iowa state Legislative Board Chair; together with Kelly Rookaird - wife of BNSF Whistleblower Curtis Rookaird (see above); and Mike Elliott - former Chairman, Washington State Legislative Board, Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen - testified in D.C. They were joined via conference call by RWU General Secretary Ron Kaminkow during the field managers meeting.