With January 4th approaching, learn how vaccine mandates might affect your railroad retirement.
Welcome, everyone, to another addition of the Highball Advisors Railroad Retirement Whiteboard. My name's John McNamara of Highball Advisors, and today we're going to talk about a current event: vaccine mandates. We're hearing it actually through a lot of industries, not just through the railroading industry. But a lot of railroaders have been reaching out to me saying, "Hey, how's this going to affect my railroad retirement?" So I thought I'd do a public service and talk about the effects of vaccine mandates on your railroad retirement.
So just to be clear, the purpose of this video is not to take either side of the vaccine mandate discussion. So you're not going to find that here. But I'd just like to talk to you about the current state of the land as of when I'm recording this, and then obviously as it approaches up to January 4th.
So right now almost all the class one railroads are requiring some sort of vaccine to be taken before Burlington or UP. CSX I just read was saying they're still undecided with the agreement employees. So let's just have a look at how this all came about.
So the Biden administration through OSHA, because they're the regulatory body over labor, is saying anybody who does business with the federal government, those employees had to be vaccinated and then companies over a hundred employees also had to be vaccinated. So that's kind of the edict that came down to all industries.
So the companies are saying, "Well, we have to meet what comes down from our regulators." And then they pass that on to the railroaders and say, "Okay, well you guys have to be vaccinated because we do business with the federal government. We're regulated by the federal government." So that's why all those mandates are coming down.
So what happens is everybody has to be vaccinated. All employees have to be vaccinated by January 4th. So that's the lay of the land right now. However, as things don't go all smoothly, currently the status is, well, the unions are saying, "Well, we didn't negotiate this, so you can't really impose this upon our workforce." So that's for the agreement employees. They have a suit in trying to stop that mandate.
And then also, I think it's 28 states also have something with the Fifth Circuit where currently there's a stay on the January 4th. So I think the reality is, everything's just going to get wrapped up into the Supreme Court and they're going to decide if the Biden administration has the authority to mandate vaccines to individuals, really. So that's probably going to be the way it is. But let's just focus on January 4th and our railroad retirement.
So like I say, on January 4th, non-agreement employees may be terminated. And then I did a little research and maybe the labor folks can help me out a little bit better. They said the agreements would be medically disqualified from duty. So I'm not exactly sure what that means, but it means you're not going to be working. So I'm not sure exactly how that works out.
But what I really want to talk about is the railroad retirement piece of it. So if on January 5th you're terminated, all right, what's going to happen? So you still have your current connection for the time being. You don't leave right away. However, unless you're independently wealthy or you're close to retirement, you're probably going to go out and get another job somewhere. And so, as soon as you work for a non-railroad employer, you're going to lose your current connection.
And I have multiple videos on current connections and all that implies. But it mostly implies to your survivor annuity, right? So you would lose your survivor annuity, which could affect your family. It will affect your family if something unfortunate happens to you. That's a big estate planning issue. So you have to be prepared for that.
The second thing that will happen is that your tier two will stop growing. So tier two, the five highest earning years. So you might be in some of your five highest earning years now, and then also years of service. So it keeps multiplying as you continue to get years of service in the railroad. So that growth would stop at your present amount of years of service.
However, finally, the last thing I want to really get across is that you would still get your railroad retirement. Even though if you get terminated from the railroad, you've put in the years, so long as you have five years vested, obviously, post-1995, you would still get your railroad retirement. So that part is isn't going to be lost if on January 5th you're terminated for these vaccine mandates.
So, if you have any questions, reach out to me. I'll try to answer them for you. It's not a great topic. It's a lot of division in the country. Hopefully, we can get this all sorted out, which would be great. We just can get back to building the country type things. So, everyone, please subscribe to the YouTube channel, share this with other railroaders who might be confused about the topic. Hopefully I shed some light on this for you. And until next time, everyone, please stay safe, stay on track, and take care. So long, everybody. Bye.
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