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Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen
Illinois State Legislative Board

BLET Action Alert: Republican tax bill on track to put Railroad Retirement Unemployment & Sickness benefits in the siding

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio, December 15 — The Republican tax bill currently working its way through the House and the Senate could have a devastating impact on Railroad Retirement Unemployment and Sickness Benefits, according to analysis from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the General Counsel of the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB). All active and retired BLET members and their families are urged to contact their Senators and Representatives immediately and urge them to vote “No.” A vote is expected to take place next week.

According to CBO’s analysis, the 2010 “Pay-As-You-Go” Act (or PAYGO) requires automatic reductions in federal spending to offset increases to the national debt. This is also known as sequestration, which already has negatively impacted Railroad Unemployment and Sickness Benefits for the past several years.

According to published media reports, the proposed tax bill would add $1.5 trillion to $2 trillion to the national debt, in effect triggering “sequestration on steroids.” Through sequestration, the PAYGO act would trigger drastic cuts at all levels of all programs listed in the federal budget including the RRB’s Railroad Unemployment and Sickness program.

The RRB’s General Counsel warns, “This would have the practical result of a 100% sequestration of all non-exempt direct spending accounts including the funds from the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund which is used to pay unemployment and sickness benefits.” The result: about $18 million — all of which is paid by employers subject to the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act (RUIA) on an experience-rated basis — would be taken from the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund to pay for tax breaks for others — corporations and the nation’s wealthiest private citizens.

Please call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121, and ask to speak with the House of Representative Member from your Congressional District. If you do not talk directly with your Member of Congress, then ask to speak to the staff member who handles Labor issues. When speaking to staff, please be respectful just as you would if you were personally speaking with your member of Congress. Also follow these procedures when contacting each of the two Senators from your state.

Contact information for your member of the House can be found online here: https://www.house.gov/htbin/findrep. Contact information for your Senator can be found online here: https://www.senate.gov/senators/index.htm.

“RUIA taxes are paid by the railroad industry to help our Brothers and Sisters who are injured or out of work,” BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce said. “If this threat to their economic security doesn’t make you furious then you aren’t paying attention. The wildly irresponsible Republican tax proposal would rob hard working Americans to give tax breaks to wealthiest Americans and to even wealthier corporations. I urge each and every member of the BLET and their families, as well as those in the BLET Auxiliary, to lobby their Representatives and Senators and demand that they vote ‘No’ on this outrageously unfair tax bill.”

Friday, December 15, 2017

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