Brightline/Virgin Trains and Railroad Retirement

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Brightline/Virgin Trains and Railroad Retirement

Postby mamachoochoo » Wed Nov 28, 2018 12:08 pm

I know that Brightline/Virgin Trains does not do Railroad Retirement, even though they call themselves a Passenger Railroad. What would it take for this to change? Could their classification change once they are connected to Orlando Airport, or expand across the US? If they are in multiple states, would they have some engineers with Railroad Retirement and some without?
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Re: Brightline/Virgin Trains and Railroad Retirement

Postby Acela150 » Thu Nov 29, 2018 12:18 am

To pay into RRB they'll have to unionize and that be a part of the union contract.
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Re: Brightline/Virgin Trains and Railroad Retirement

Postby mamachoochoo » Thu Nov 29, 2018 8:29 am

No unions in Florida. I know there have been cases of classification changing. Just wondering what it would take operationally.
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Re: Brightline/Virgin Trains and Railroad Retirement

Postby Acela150 » Thu Nov 29, 2018 9:06 pm

Nothing. They're under the FRA. Like I said the only way to get into RRB is to unionize.
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Re: Brightline/Virgin Trains and Railroad Retirement

Postby amtrakhogger » Thu Nov 29, 2018 10:56 pm

mamachoochoo wrote:No unions in Florida. I know there have been cases of classification changing. Just wondering what it would take operationally.


No unions in Florida? CSX represented by BLET,SMART, BMWE etc. FEC represented by SMART, Amtrak represented by BLET, SMART, TCU, etc
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Re: Brightline/Virgin Trains and Railroad Retirement

Postby mamachoochoo » Fri Nov 30, 2018 11:23 am

I stand corrected. I thought right-to-work meant no unions. Apologies.
So the STB ruling of Brightline as an intrastate interurban service (and not a passenger railroad) could only be changed by a union. Got it.
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Re: Brightline/Virgin Trains and Railroad Retirement

Postby Acela150 » Sat Dec 01, 2018 1:01 am

mamachoochoo wrote:I stand corrected. I thought right-to-work meant no unions. Apologies.
So the STB ruling of Brightline as an intrastate interurban service (and not a passenger railroad) could only be changed by a union. Got it.


Unions can't change a STB ruling.
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Re: Brightline/Virgin Trains and Railroad Retirement

Postby Erie-Lackawanna » Sat Jan 12, 2019 8:34 pm

Whether or not a corporation is legally a “railroad” with respect to the Railroad Retirement System is a legal designation that has absolutely NOTHING to do with whether or not it employs a unionized workforce. Unions don’t decide whether a company is a Railroad under the Railroad Retirement Act.

There are certain criteria that determine whether a company is a “Railroad” under the Act, but after 35 years in the industry I’ll be damned if I understand why contract operators such as Keolis and Herzog, or Brightline, don’t qualify as railroads under the Act. But the fact is they don’t, and so their employees are not in the Railroad Retirement system. Maybe a qualified rail industry attorney could explain it.

There is nothing any of their employees can do to change that. Presumably the nature of the corporation would need to change, and that’s highly unlikely. Given the added expense, the people running the corporations involved would have no reason to want to join the Railroad Retirement system.

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Re: Brightline/Virgin Trains and Railroad Retirement

Postby eolesen » Sun Jan 13, 2019 5:53 pm

Specific to Brightline, STB ruled that they're not part of the national network, in that they don't interchange passengers with Amtrak, so they have no jurisdiction over them.

Likewise, the operations that Herzog and Keolis run typically aren't ruled as part of the national passenger network.

Not understanding why anyone thinks that participating in RRB is less advantageous than participating in Social Security. As an employer, you have to contribute to one or the other.
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Re: Brightline/Virgin Trains and Railroad Retirement

Postby edbear » Sun Jan 13, 2019 6:51 pm

I worked for Boston & Maine, Amtrak and Mass. Bay Commuter Railroad. When the MBTA was shopping around for a contract renewal in the early 2000s, the labor unions pushed to have the terms stipulate that the contractor continue Railroad Retirement.
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Re: Brightline/Virgin Trains and Railroad Retirement

Postby Erie-Lackawanna » Sun Jan 13, 2019 10:28 pm

eolesen wrote:Specific to Brightline, STB ruled that they're not part of the national network, in that they don't interchange passengers with Amtrak, so they have no jurisdiction over them.

Which is illogical in its entirety. They operate on the national network.

The IRS has a document online that purports to explain the criteria that determines whether a company is part of Railroad Retirement, and it seems very clear: if you transport passengers or freight by rail, either directly or indirectly (such as through a subsidiary company), you’re a Railroad, and you’re in the Railroad Retirement system. Apparently, though, this isn’t how the law is enforced.

eolesen wrote:Not understanding why anyone thinks that participating in RRB is less advantageous than participating in Social Security. As an employer, you have to contribute to one or the other.

Because the tax burden to the employer (and the employee) is significantly greater under Railroad Retirement than it is under Social Security. Employees pay 4.9% in RRT Tier II tax and employers pay 13.1% in RRT Tier II tax, all of which is over and above the 7.62% that non railroad employees and employers pay under the SSA. Employers don’t like additional tax burdens. Employees accept the additional tax burden in this case because (a) they receive a higher annuity than they would under the SSA, and (b) career railroad employees with 30 years of service can retire with a full unreduced annuity at a much lower age than non railroad employees under the SSA. It is a very good deal for career railroad employees.

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