The International President
The International President is responsible for everything about TCU. He has responsibility for the overall supervision and direction of the union’s programs. He coordinates TCU’s national negotiations, and assists in other collective bargaining matters as required. He also is the ultimate authority on the union’s Constitution–interpreting its provisions and enforcing them when necessary.
The International Secretary-Treasurer’s Department & Administration
Overseeing the practical, day to day functions of running headquarters is the Administrative Department whose staff manage internal personnel functions, channel requests from members and officers to the proper Department, oversees mailings and generally insures that key support activities runs smoothly. Staff also is responsible for examining and approving accounts payable and all expenses relating to the operation of the union.
Making sure TCU members have the best representation, this department is the core of what TCU is all about. While the basic responsibility for arbitration rests with officers at the board level they rely on the Industry Relations staff who act as resource coordinators. They review cases under consideration, investigating and explaining the rules and procedures of the governmental agencies which may be involved. So that all members have the best representation possible, the staff respond to requests from General Chairmen for assistance in making the best arguments and providing evidence needed to win a strong sustaining award from an arbitrator. The IR staff are experts in handling arbitrations, in negotiations and in traversing the complex requirements of a variety of governmental agencies. In addition, staff representatives are assigned permanently to the National Railroad Adjustment Board.
The Department also conducts leadership development seminars and other educational conferences to strengthen the on-site representation available to members at the local, district and system levels. No dollar is better spent than one that gives TCU local and district officers the educational tools needed to provide you with the top-notch representation all our members deserve. Recognizing how essential training is, 1995 Convention delegates unanimously endorsed a special 50 cents per month assessment that ensures the universal training of TCU reps.
If you ever have to file a grievance and it goes to arbitration, you and your Union rep will have expert guidance from the staff of the Department. And if you decide to take on a leadership post such as district or local chairperson, you will be encouraged to attend educational seminars to strengthen your own skills.
Monitoring members’ rights and the law, the job of the Legal Department staff is to resolve legal questions pertaining to employes’ rights in the workplace and members’ rights with respect to the Union. Staff help local and district chairmen, general chairmen and other officers with problems brought to their attention by members, working on legal issues relating in some way to preserving and protecting members’ rights on the job. The department also works on arbitrations, advising staff members in the Industry Relations department on legal aspects raised by a given case and working with the General Chairmen involved.
For the most part, you benefit from TCU’s legal expertise indirectly. But the department oversees the Union’s Designated Counsel list, a directory of attorneys upon whom members can call if they ever need legal advice. First begun to help members needing legal advice about Federal Employers Liability Act cases involving on-the-job injuries, the program now includes lawyers who can handle a wide range of personal legal services from simple will-making to the far more complex needs of a bitter divorce contest. At your appointment you will receive preliminary advice and discuss the possibilities and fees, which will be contingent on your success.
Legislative & International Labor
The Legislative Department’s challenge is to try to protect the gains members and the labor movement as a whole have made over the years while working for legislation to further improve conditions in the workplace and in society. Staff work on two fronts, at the national level and in the states, and rely on the help and assistance of TCU’s local lodge and district officers and their grassroots committees consisting of activist members dedicated to advancing our Union’s agenda. You can get involved by volunteering in your local lodge or district to work on the grassroots committee, educating other members about important issues, writing letters to and visiting members of Congress and state legislatures to personally take TCU’s argument to them. To help members keep track of how well or poorly a senator or representative has voted during a given session, this department prepares a voting record, which all members receive in the Union’s Interchange publication.. It is also this department that you should turn to with questions about the positions of the Union national or local issues, or the stand taken by elected officials. They also can provide information about key legislative issues upon request.
The department also serves as a liaison with various AFL-CIO support groups such as the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, the Coalition of Labor Union Women, the A. Philip Randolph Institute and others.
Because what happens to workers in other countries unquestionably affects the interests of all workers here in the U.S., TCU leaders are actively involved in organizations like the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and in cooperative efforts with the AFL-CIO and other unions in various outreach programs. In all its efforts, the mission is to help workers in other countries raise their own standards of living in order to protect the standards that American workers enjoy-and improve them.
TCU’s leadership in helping disadvantaged young people reach their goals extends back to 1971 when the union first was funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Job Corps to operate training programs around the U.S. At sites throughout the nation, thousands of young men and women have been trained by the Manpower Training Department and then placed with employers on numerous railroads (including Amtrak), airlines, and trucking companies.
The Grand Lodge has the expertise to help with campaigns conducted under procedures of both the National Labor Relations Board and the National Mediation Board. Resources such as legal analysis, company research and communications strategy are available to assist those involved in grass roots campaigns. Efforts are targeted in the realization that organizing is the future of the labor movement.
Members benefit both directly and indirectly from the work of this department whose staff are the Union’s experts in issues of health and welfare benefits, Railroad Retirement, and the like. Staff also act as liaisons with the many Union Privilege programs in which TCU participates as well as with the AFL-CIO’s Community Services Department. This is where you can find out who to talk to about Railroad Retirement, railroad unemployment or sickness benefits, medical coverage under various plans and Medicare for railworkers. Department staff will put you in touch with the person in a given program who should be able to answer your questions; then, if you still have trouble getting resolution to the problem, this TCU department will step in as an advocate and as a troubleshooter, making an appeal to higher authority at the appropriate agency.