Furlough...is a term used on Amtrak to describe a temporary lay-off from the railroad. Usually involuntary, furloughs result when a railroad employer eliminates jobs due to lack of work or change in work conditions, and is always a result of inadequate foresight and poor planning on the part of Railroad Management.
During these Company caused job eliminations or force reductions, employees are forced to exercise seniority to other positions for which they are qualified, or to furlough. These basic seniority rights are governed by the following rules.
RULE 18 - REDUCTION IN FORCE-RETAINING RANK ON ROSTER
(a) When the force is reduced, employees affected shall have the right, within ten (10) days after the effective date of such reduction, to elect to take furlough or to exercise seniority to displace junior employees in accordance with the following provisions of this Rule.
Your position has just been abolished, or you've been displaced (bumped) by a senior employee. Now what? If you cannot in turn make a bump or fill a vacancy, you are effectively laid-off and left with the option of furloughing. Rule 18 continues by addressing furlough requirements.
RULE 18 - REDUCTION IN FORCE-RETAINING RANK ON ROSTER (con' t)
(f) An employee furloughed as the result of reduction of force, desiring to be recalled to active service shall file his name and address, as well as subsequent notice(s) of change, in writing, with the officer(s) designated by the Carrier. The employee will prepare three (3) copies of such notice and/or change notice(s), retaining one copy and filing two (2) copies with the officer referred to. One copy of such notice will be forwarded by AMTRAK to the General Chairman.
In the event an employee fails to file notice as set forth above, Amtrak may request, by certified mail to the employee's address of record, that the employee file such notice. Failure to comply with such a request may result in the application of Rule 21-A.
Amtrak shall not be subject to financial liability for failure to recall employees who do not file their name and address as required above.
The requirement for filing name and address will not apply to an employee who exercises seniority in reduction of force to another position covered by this Agreement.
open a printable complete version of Rule 18
Should you decide to take a furlough, you must file a Furlough Form. This is a three-part form, those parts being repetitive but necessary. After completing the form, mail or fax to:
National Railroad Passenger Corporation
Mr. Pete Bubnis, Director Manpower
30th Street Station
Third Floor, North Tower, Box 22
2955 Market Street
Philadelphia PA 19104
Should your personal circumstances change, such as you've moved to a different address, changed your phone number, or decide to change your Recall Zone Selection, you must complete a new furlough form and submit that new form to Amtrak.
Always get a receipt for your furlough form, either by mailing the furlough form Certified Mail with a return receipt request, or by a fax delivery conformation. At some point employees might be required to prove that their furlough form was on file with Amtrak.
Amtrak's Furlough Procedures for 2012
Returning to Work from Furlough
How do I get back to work after I've been furloughed? Typically Amtrak will call the number you list on the furlough form, or they will mail you a recall notice, delivered to your Address of Record. If Amtrak Assignments does not have your correct phone number or address, you will most likely miss this important notification.
RULE 21 - RETURNING FROM FURLOUGH
When the Carrier recalls furloughed employees to service, furloughed employees from that work zone having seniority in the class will be recalled from furlough in seniority order in that work zone. The employee's work zone will be the work zone selected by the employee at the time of furlough, or if no selection by the employee, the work zone from which furloughed.
If the pool of employees is exhausted in the work zone where the position is headquartered, the Carrier will recall in seniority order, other employees having seniority in the class who are furloughed from other work zones.
An employee who fails to return to service within ten (10) days from date notification of recall has been mailed to his last recorded address for a position or vacancy of thirty (30) days or more duration in the work zone selected or from which furloughed as designated in paragraph 1 above will forfeit all seniority under this Agreement. Forfeiture of seniority under this Rule will not apply:
(1) When an employee, within thirty (30) days from date of notification of recall, furnished evidence satisfactory to the officer signatory to notification that failure to respond within ten (10) days was due to conditions beyond his control. Such evidence will be made available to the representative.
(2) When an employee recalled to a gang (work zone) established in accordance with Rule 90-A, 90-B or 90-C, advises the General Chairman and appropriate Assistant Chief Engineer in writing that extenuating circumstances prevent his return to that work zone. Such extenuating circumstances will be evaluated and must be approved by the General Chairman and appropriate Assistant Chief Engineer.
(3) When the position to which recalled is outside of the work zone selected by the employee, or if no selection by the employee, the work zone from which furloughed.
(4) When an employee refuses recall to a gang established pursuant to Rule 89, the employee shall only forfeit seniority on rosters associated with Rule 89.
Furloughed employees may exercise seniority to displace junior employees awarded to new positions or recalled to service within fifteen days from the date such junior employees start work on such new positions.
New positions filled by recalled employees will be advertised on the first Monday after five days from the date such employees start work on such positions. Such advertisements will be made in accordance with the procedures in Rule 3.
If such positions are not advertised on the first Monday thereafter, then employees in active service may exercise seniority to displace newly recalled employees, provided they notify their current supervisory officer or foreman not less than 24 hours in advance of their current starting time. The current supervisory officer or foreman shall prepare a release form to be presented to the new supervisory officer or foreman prior to making the displacement. Such release form will be available for the employee to pick up at the current supervisor's office by the end of the employee's tour. If such release form or reasonable facsimile thereof is not available, then the current supervisory officer or foreman shall contact the new supervisory officer or foreman and arrange the displacement.
open a printable version of Rule 21
It is imperative for you to remain aware of working conditions while you're on furlough. Are others being recalled? Are positions for which you are qualified being bulletined and assigned? These conditions could impact your return from furlough.
One and Done
On the Amtrak property there are furlough conditions employees must be aware of, including Rule 100, or the "One and Done" rule, which generally provides that if you have less than three years of seniority (DES) and you have been furloughed over one year, Amtrak does not have to re-call you into service.
RULE 100 - TERMINATION OF SENIORITY
The seniority of any employee whose seniority under an agreement with BMWE is established after the date of this Agreement and who is furloughed for 365 consecutive days will be terminated if such employee has less than three (3) years of seniority.
The "365 consecutive days" shall exclude any period during which a furloughed employee receives compensation pursuant to an I.C.C. employee protection order or an employee protection agreement or arrangement.
open a printable version of Rule 100
It is important to maintain contact with Amtrak's Assignment Office to keep apprised of circumstances that could return you from furlough and prevent your termination.
If you are furloughed, you may be eligible to receive unemployment benefits from the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB), the Federal agency responsible for administering the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act (RUIA).
Only qualified employees can receive benefits. A new benefit year begins every July 1st. To qualify for benefits in a benefit year, you must have creditable railroad earnings in the preceding calendar year (base year), counting no more than a certain amount in any month. In addition, a new employee must have railroad service in at least 5 months of his or her first year of work in order to be eligible for benefits in the following benefit year.
Visit the Railroad Retirement web site and learn more about Unemployment Benefits for Railroad Employees.