Imagine a job where we all got paid exactly what we were owed when it was owed to us and we didn't have to ask twice. That sounds fantastic doesn't it? Unfortunatly that isn't the reality we live in. So in order for us to get what's owed to us we have to ask for it. The way we ask is by submitting claims. It is not realistic that we believe the carrier knows what is happening to every person every day. Granted, they do know when they are denying us what is owed in mass. For example, short crew, RCO box time, the meal period we just settled for a new contract and a pay raise and back pay. Back pay dating into the year 2007 in some cases. Some people are literally receiving a check for over $20,000.00. Yes, you read that number correctly. The ones who submitted regularly, followed the process and waited patiently.
Claims are a formal request to the carrier for a breach of contractual obligations. If done daily, we actually get paid to submit them on the clock. Think back to your time on the railroad. ....how many times have you forgotten to submit? How many did you not submit because it wouldn't pay over the guarantee? How many times did you submit and then never appeal when they got denied? Collectively, that number of unsubmitted/never appealed claims is a phenomenal amount of money. Also known as pure profit to the carrier. You see, when it comes to claims, we are our own worst enemy. Our own complacency kills us. Who cares what the exact verbiage is, just get it submitted. Type in all the relevant facts. You can't have too many but you can certainly have to few.
If I (the carrier) owed 400 people money (that's an average of how many conductors in our union local) and I waited for them to ask for it back, I already won. 275 of you wouldn't even ask. Of the 125 that do ask, if I said no again that would be the end of it for another 75. So now 50 people have someone else ask for them (local chairman). Then the local chairman asks by adding to your claim the relevant precedent. If the local chairman is told no then he sends it to the General chairman. The general chairman combines all of those requests together with other union locals and submits back to the carrier again. Further denial results in going to a 3rd party for help. If that help says yes we all get paid. Here's the tricky part so pay attention.....only the ones who followed the process religiously get back pay.
How much money did the carrier save by just saying no? No one will ever know the exact amount because most of us never ask for the money in the first place. Our last big claim payment resulted in over 1.6 MILLION dollars in claims. Sounds Ike alot doesn't it? How much would it have been if everyone did their part and submitted every claim? I don't know the actual number but I am willing to bet it would have been at least double that or more.
WHO told you to do it
WHAT was done to you
WHEN was it done to you
WHERE was it done to you
DOCUMENTS that support what you said.
(e.g...Trainlists, screenshot of boards, doctors notes, notifications)
The relevant precedent is not your concern. They don't decline claims based on lack of contract information, they decline claims based on pure profit motive. They win everytime because we let them.
~Chad Evenson, Vice Local Chairman
Edited for typos and grammar.