Amtrak Seeking Retirement Volunteers as First Step Toward Reducing its Workforce by 20%

An Amtrak employee advisory posted on a railfan chat list shows that the passenger carrier plans to offer employees a buyout package in June and July in an effort to cut its payroll.

The memo reiterated a point that Amtrak President William Flynn made in a letter to Congress last week that the passenger carrier plans to trim its workforce for 20 percent in anticipation of large revenues losses over the next several years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

If not enough employees take the buyout, the memo warns, the company will resort to furloughs.

A retirement incentive is being offered to employees eligible under Railroad Retirement Board rules for retirement by Dec. 31, 2020, who are in active service on June 19, 2020, holding positions at locations where the company does not see operational needs.

Those employees should submit an irrevocable application between June 1-19 and will receive a notification by July 10.

Those granted a retirement will receive their individual compensation and departure date at that time but they are expected to leave Amtrak by July 24.

Those not eligible for retirement by July 24, but who will be eligible by Dec. 31, 2020, and those who can receive an increased retirement benefit if they work between August and Dec 31, 2020, can request a “bridge” under this program to be eligible for those additional service months.

Those workers will stop reporting to work as of July 24, 2020, but will remain active employees and receive their payout as a dismissal allowance, payable in increments until their retirement date, which must be prior to December 31, 2020.

The memo said furloughs will be implemented after Oct. 1, the day that fiscal year 2021 begins.

It said management will determine furloughs based on the carrier’s projected operating plan and its needed staffing levels.

Those covered by union contracts will have their employment benefits continued for four months after the date of furlough.

“To this point, Amtrak has made the policy decision that any [union] agreement employee who is involuntarily furloughed between October 1 and December 31, 2020, will have their benefits continued until September 30, 2021 at Amtrak’s expense,” the memo said.

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