We are heading into fall and dealing with the possibility of a “second wave” of COVID-19 in some areas of the country, and flu season everywhere. Many of you may not know it but the CDC estimates that since 2010, the flu has infected anywhere from 9-45 million people per flu season (generally October to March) and, depending upon the severity of the year, the flu causes 140,000 to 810,000 hospitalizations and anywhere from 12,000 to 61,000 deaths. You can also get the flu and COVID-19 at the same time. They are separate viruses even though the symptoms are very similar. With the potential for health issues from the flu and/ or COVID-19 infection this year, it is more important than ever that each of us do our part to help prevent infections.
In my last update right before Labor Day, I focused on individual responsibility because that is really what this is all about. Each of us has and can continue to make a difference by our personal efforts and setting an example for others. Each of us has and can continue to protect the health and safety of our loved ones, and co-workers and, yes, even strangers that we may not know at all. NOW IS THE TIME TO REDOUBLE OUR EFFORTS. Keep washing your hands, practice social distancing, wear a mask, avoid large gatherings, and keep an eye out for those that are not being smart and walk (or run) the other way. Every little thing you do is going to add up to a big victory over this pandemic!
HR has sent out information on how and where to get your flu shot. If you have not received this information, please let your supervisor know. For those enrolled in BlueCross/BlueShield, the cost is free. For those of you not enrolled in our plan or enrolled in a plan with a spouse or significant other that does not have this benefit, we have made arrangements to cover the cost. Despite what you may have heard, you cannot “get the flu” from a flu shot. You can protect yourself and others by being proactive and getting your flu shot.
Halloween has arguably become one of the biggest holidays of the year and I know all your children (and some of you) love Halloween. This year, we can celebrate but we need to be mindful of the same safety precautions we follow every day. Know your local community guidelines for “trick or treating,” go over them with your children, follow them when others come to your house and, above all else, stay masked up even if outside when you cannot maintain a safe distance from others. The more we learn, the more the experts think this virus is transmitted through droplets in the air so remember, being outside does not mean you are safe if you are not behaving responsibly.
You have all done a terrific job and I am grateful and forever proud of the way the Rescar and AllTranstek families have responded to this crisis. Thank you, have a spooky fun time, and be safe.
- Joseph F. Schieszler, Jr., CEO
Our thoughts go out to all our Rescar/AllTranstek families that have been impacted by Hurricane Laura or who have friends or families that have been affected. If there is anyone you know who needs help, please let your supervisor know.
It is very important as we head into the end of summer with the Labor Day weekend approaching that everyone take a few minutes to remember the things that helped us get to this point in relatively good condition.
Individual Responsibility Matters
How we individually behave when out in public is crucial to being able to remain safe and healthy. Whether at work or out in your neighborhoods, your personal decisions and actions are things that you can control and that will help ensure your safety and those around you. The best thing you can do is to remain diligent and follow the key safe practices:
Be Proactive and Observant
Whether you are invited to a friend’s or invite friends over or go to a public park or beach, take the time to think through how you can make it a fun but safe time for everyone. Here again, a few simple things can go a long way:
Most importantly, please drink responsibly and DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE OR BOAT!
I am so grateful for everything you have all done these last few months. Thank you, have fun, be safe.
- Joseph F. Schieszler, Jr., CEO
It has been a while since my last memo and the first thing I want you to know is that, fortunately, most of our employees and their families have remained healthy, and Rescar and AllTranstek have remained busy and financially successful. Nevertheless, we need to continue to stay focused on the safe practices we have put in place at work, and you really need to remember to carry those practices over to your personal life especially as we head into the Fourth of July holiday weekend.
I am sure you heard about and saw some of the celebrations over the Memorial Day weekend with people at pool bars, clubs, and on beaches packed in and not practicing social distancing. Most experts attribute the current surge in cases in some states directly to people not practicing social distancing that weekend. This weekend, the country celebrates Independence Day and people may once again ignore social distancing and choose to engage in more reckless behavior. The good news is that you can still enjoy the Holiday and celebrate with friends and family but you need to be smart and continue to practice the COVID-19 preventative measures that you have been doing:
• Remember to wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
• Avoid close contact with people and especially anyone who is sick.
• Wear a mask when out in public when you cannot maintain 6’ distance.
In addition, when it comes to attending Fourth of July celebrations:
• Follow your state’s current re-opening guidelines with respect to the size of group
• Remember to drink responsibly and DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE.
• Be on the “look out” for people around you who are not being responsible and move away or avoid interacting with them.
• Stay hydrated – drink water on a regular basis as other beverages do not hydrate you.
It is really important to stay focused on safety at work this week with the distraction of the upcoming weekend. I said above that we have been fortunate but there is a famous saying that “Diligence is the mother of good fortune,” and your diligence has been the key to our success. Thank you and have fun and be safe.
- Joseph F. Schieszler, Jr., CEO
First, the good news, things are starting to stabilize enough that I am going to stop sending a Memo every Monday that you have to read. I will continue to communicate important developments when necessary, but I will stop the monotony of a sermon and “weekly affirmation” from the boss. Now the bad news, this week there is a Memo.
Memorial Day Is Here And It’s Time To Really Focus And Be Disciplined
More and more businesses have opened up and more people are venturing out. There is also a holiday weekend approaching and lots of pent up demand to get out of the house. All of that means you really need to be extra careful right now. For the most part I see folks doing things the right way, but there are and will be people who do not respect social distancing and safe practices. And, while it is relatively easy to be disciplined and safe while at work with the processes we have in place, it may not be so easy when you are doing things around your neighborhood or when traveling. Please, for you and your family’s safety, and the safety of the Rescar and AllTranstek families, make sure you follow the CDC Guidelines: avoid large groups/wash your hands-a lot/stay 6 feet apart/mask up when in public spaces and be extra vigilant about what others are doing around you.
Help With Staying At Home
Though things are getting better and re-opening, most of us are still spending a lot of time at home under difficult circumstances (a nice way of saying there are spouses, children, relatives, pets everywhere you turn and you have no way to get away!) so boredom and stress can be a real problem. Our HR Manager, Jackie Mazzanti, found these two helpful links:
Remember, if you or a family member is struggling, through BlueCross/BlueShield MDLive https://members.mdlive.com/bcbsil/landing_home, or AFLAC https://www.memd.me/Aflac/, there are counseling options available under our plan at no additional cost. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health in helping keep you safe.
For your efforts, perseverance, indulgence of my monotonous droning on about washing hands and social distancing, and everything else each and every one of you has been doing to keep our companies successful during these very trying times. Stay safe.
- Joseph F. Schieszler, Jr., CEO
As we head into another week, I want to share a couple stories that really confirm what you are doing makes a difference.
Safe Practices Are Important At Home Too
On the weekly safety call, one of our Rescar Regional Managers, Glenn Buckner, shared a story of seeing the benefits of practicing social distancing and safe practices in his personal life in a very real way. Last weekend, a group of friends had invited him to attend a meeting but he could tell these folks were not practicing social distancing and appeared to have little concern for restricting close contact between themselves, so he declined and called into the meeting instead. It later turned out one of the participants tested positive for COVID-19 and now all of them are under mandatory 14-day quarantine orders. Glenn, by being responsible, spent the week at work and living his normal, well, “new-normal,” life. As Adam Meister said on the Regional Manager call, we all need to “be responsible and act responsible” both at work and at home - it really does make a difference.
Customers Notice And Appreciate Your Efforts
Rescar’s CPChem, Old Ocean, Texas, (Location 373), team received a wonderful compliment from their host customer for following established COVID-19 protection guidelines. The team was conducting its morning safety tailgate meeting when the customer’s local rail superintendent showed up unannounced. The team was in the conference room social distancing and wearing masks and the rail superintendent was impressed enough to share the Rescar commitment with his supervisor who then shared it with CPChem upper management. The statement from the rail superintendent to his supervisor says it best, “To me, this speaks volumes of how Rescar is taking the necessary precautions concerning the COVID-19 situation. I for one very much appreciate the cooperation and adherence to the guidelines set out for site, and just wanted to share the positive news.” Thank you to Mark Vazquez, Joshua Soliz, Cary Goss and the entire 373 team. Great job!
After sending out last week’s Memo about thanks to essential workers like you, I received an email from the AAR that U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao has posted a video thanking America’s railroad and railroad industry workers. You can check it out on Twitter or YouTube. We have put links on the website for you so you can watch and “like it.” A similar video for truckers and transportation workers received 129,000 likes and AAR is encouraging all the railroad workers to beat this number. I have watched it,and liked it; it is very uplifting.
I know your waiting for it: WASH YOUR HANDS AND SOCIAL DISTANCE. Be safe.
- Joseph F. Schieszler, Jr., CEO
We made it through a very difficult April but May is here and spring is in the air and both companies are continuing to remain strong and ready for the next challenges. Together, we will survive, and thrive, as long as we keep our focus and effort.
You Truly Are Essential
Each day, as I drive to and from the office, I see the billboards and electronic signs on the road, and even hand-made yard signs in my neighborhood, thanking all the essential workers. Usually these are for the amazing health care workers across the country, but I have even seen one for truck drivers and utility workers. For me, however, every time I see such a sign, I think of you.
While the health care professionals, truckers, and utility company workers deserve everyone’s thanks for caring for the sick and elderly and providing needed products and utilities, each of you deserves just as much thanks and praise for your efforts ensuring the rail supply chain keeps moving. Remember, we are helping our customers deliver their products and those products either are or become products that consumers critically need at this time. Our customers make materials like polymers and chemicals that go into facemasks, medical tubing, IV bags, hand sanitizers, and hundreds of other products. Every rail car transporting a raw material or finished product impacts the supply chain network of the nation in some capacity. Each of you is critical to helping supply these important materials enabling all Americans to combat this crisis and protect their families and loved ones. I know it’s been difficult and hard on you but every time you see an essential worker sign, think of the amazing work you are doing and take comfort in knowing that thank you is for you as well.
Helping Each Other and Others
The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly reminded us that we cannot control everything happening around us, but it has also shown we can control how we support one another. I have heard countless stories of our employees helping other employees in their time of need and helping in their communities. From picking up and delivering groceries and needed items to employees who are housebound, to volunteering to help others in need in their neighborhood, and donating blood, Rescar and AllTranstek employees have thought of others. Thanks to all of you for your selfless efforts to help others in need during these times.
Broken Record Time
I titled this section broken record because I probably sound like a broken record at this point, but personal hygiene and safe distancing is the number one “tool” to fight and beat this virus. I think I have washed my hands more in the last 6 weeks than I have in the almost 60 years I have been alive but that is what we need to keep doing. Please stay focused on these two things as we head into another week and be safe.
- Joseph F. Schieszler, Jr., CEO
Here are a few things I want you to consider and know with the new developments on lifting stay at home directives nationwide.
Please Stay Vigilant
I am convinced that the reason we have been fortunate to have limited impact from COVID-19 so far is because of our early adoption of preventative measures in our operations and offices, and your commitment to practicing those guidelines. With several states now re-opening or loosening some stay at home orders, we need to “double down” on those efforts. While it is natural and understandable to feel some euphoria at the restrictions being lifted, and I believe it is a good sign overall, we must remain vigilant about the social distancing, personal hygiene and safe practices we have in place. Situations will vary significantly depending upon where you live but the best approach is to employ the CDC, your local government, and our guidelines wherever you live. Keeping yourself safe is the best way to ensure we keep all Rescar/AllTranstek employees and their families safe.
We Are In This Together
This has become the catchphrase for fighting this virus and I am sure there are numerous businesses and communities where our employees live and work that are struggling greatly. If any of you know of a local business re-opening or community program in your neighborhood that we can help by purchasing needed items from, or lending a hand in some way, please let your supervisor know and we will do what we can.
Rescar/AllTranstek Offices Re-opening
Although Illinois and Texas have relaxed some restrictions, at this time we are likely still a few weeks away from having employees returning to the Downers Grove or Houston corporate offices in any large numbers. We have made a lot of progress with our team who is spearheading this effort and we will be ready when the time comes. This effort includes adding social distance markings, enhancing our office cleaning efforts, and staggering employees’ office schedules among other best industry practices all intended to make our office environment as safe as possible in this new normal. We are also in the process of making some wonderful new refurbishments to both our Downers Grove and Houston offices that should all be completed by early June. We will provide update on these initiatives in future communications. In the meantime, let’s continue to serve our customers while staying safe.
Even with all the uncertainty out there, things for our companies are fairly “status quo” right now. There are just a couple of items I want to update you on and discuss as we head into another week.
Both Rescar and AllTranstek continue to have little impact from COVID-19 or other illnesses, our operations remain stable, and we are able to serve our customers. We need to be proactive about maintaining supplies of material and equipment to do our jobs so please make sure you are monitoring your location’s inventories and let your supervisor know of any things that need to be ordered. Sometimes it takes time to get deliveries of certain products and we want to stay ahead of the game.
Our Customers’ Operations
We are fortunate to be in an “essential industry” and working while many others have lost their jobs. It is challenging and demanding, but also a blessing. At this point, most of our customers are continuing to operate at generally normal levels to meet the nation’s needs and this means they need our services as much as they ever have to support their operations.
Reopening the Economy:
There is beginning to be talk about relaxing the shelter in place restrictions and ways to re-open the economy. It is still early, and there will be significant differences about what this means depending upon where you live, but a few things to keep in mind:
On the Rescar safety call this week one of our location managers, Jeff Walker, Location 375, Borger, TX, said it best: - “our employees are like our family and we want to help keep you safe while doing your job in any way we can”. Thank you for that Jeff; and thank you all for your continuing efforts.
- Joseph F. Schieszler, Jr., CEO
For those of you who celebrate Easter, I hope you were able to have as nice a holiday as
possible under the circumstances. I want to keep this week’s Memo brief so I will just highlight a couple of things and let you get on with what you do best.
Because of your efforts, we had another very good week with little impact on our business. In fact, Rescar and AllTranstek remain strong and for that I am eternally grateful to all of you. This is not over by any means, but we are starting to see and hear some “glimmers of hope” out there in the country and I am encouraged.
HR posted a terrific one-page Health Resources summary on the websites with all of the contact information for BlueCross/BlueShield, AFLAC, and Lincoln Financial available for you with one “click.” We have a lot of very good health benefits available to you and your family so be sure to become familiar with, and take advantage of, all of the different options. If you are having any problems, please call the HR hotline or e-mail for assistance. Many thanks to Jackie and Sandy who, as you all know, are new to the Rescar/AllTranstek family. They have really “stepped up”over the last few weeks and are doing a fantastic job!
Many locations across our network have also implemented their own helpful additions to the “social distancing” and safety measures we have put in place. For example:
• Loc 163 – Actively talking about social distancing during the day and not just applying it at work but remembering to apply at home as well.
• Loc 550 – When customers call them out to the site, they try to limit exposure with the customer’s employees by having the car placed on a track away from the loading rack when possible.
• Loc 310 – All printed material they need to review is placed on a neutral area table and the area is sanitized a few times a day as needed.
• Loc 565 – This location made a 6 ft “social distancing” note on the floor using tape to show proper distancing and removed half of the chairs from the table in the common area to assist with proper social distancing.
• Loc 489 – Employees are continually talking about and practicing healthy nutrition and hydration habits and avoiding junk food. Eating healthy and staying hydrated helps in keeping the immune system strong.
• Loc 545 – During truck inspections, this location has focused on keeping the cabin air filters in the trucks changed out frequently.
• Loc 680 – This location is focused on ensuring each area has adequate hand sanitizer, soap, or some type of personal disinfecting method available at all times.
I am constantly impressed with the dedication and creativity of our employees. Please, if you have other ideas, talk to your supervisor. LET’S KEEP WORKING SAFELY, CONTINUE TO USE SOCIAL DISTANCING AND OTHER PROTECTIVE MEASURES, AND HAVE ANOTHER
- Joseph F. Schieszler, Jr., CEO
There is an old journalism adage “don’t bury the lead” (or “lede”- Google it) and I made that mistake last week. It was in the last paragraph of our employee update on March 30 and it should have been in the first paragraph-YOU ARE ALL DOING A MAGNIFICENT JOB! I CANNOT THANK YOU ENOUGH. Customer after customer has told us how much they
appreciate everything their Rescar crews and AllTranstek staff are doing for them and that you have been instrumental in helping them continue to operate during these difficult times. KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK and thank you again.
Because all of you are diligently practicing “social distancing” and cleaning and disinfecting our workplaces, we continue to have very few employees missing work for any illnesses. THESE TWO STEPS ARE THE NUMBER ONE WAY TO PROTECT OUR EMPLOYEES AND THEIR FAMILIES FROM THIS VIRUS. We have also put other safety measures in place with your feedback and assistance. Several locations have adopted a “staggered” work schedule so that not all employees are arriving and leaving at the same time. These time intervals allow employees to have more distance between themselves when first arriving at work or leaving for the day. Fixed mini shops have staggered breaks and lunch times to accomplish the same result. These are wonderful and creative ways to bring even more safety to our workplaces and were the result of your efforts. I encourage all of you to think about additional steps we can take and share those thoughts with your supervisor.
CDC Recommendation Regarding Wearing Masks:
The CDC has recommended that all Americans wear some type of cloth face covering or mask when out in public places. This is in addition to maintaining the social distancing measures(staying 6 feet apart) that we have been practicing for several weeks now. This is not mandatory or a law but we encourage all of you to adopt this practice when out in grocery stores, pharmacies, or other public spaces.
With our “social distancing” practices in place, you do not need to wear a cloth face covering or mask at work. However, we have ordered masks to be delivered over the next few weeks to ensure we have enough available if circumstances require you to work where “social distancing” is difficult. If any of you feel more comfortable wearing a personal cloth face covering or mask, please feel free to do so but you must ensure your mask does not contain any inappropriate markings and that you follow all CDC guidelines regarding cleaning and disinfecting personal cloth face coverings. With the critical shortages of masks available nationwide, please be diligent with maintenance and care of the masks you wear at work. Our safety group can help any location with questions. And, if any of you know of a source to buy more masks, please let your supervisor know.
BlueCross BlueShield MDLive/Nurseline/AFLAC
The technical difficulties with accessing MDLive have been corrected. To access care online go to https://members.mdlive.com/bcbsil/landing_home. Rescar/AllTranstek have made arrangements to cover the cost of the co-pay for MDLive through June, 2020. And remember, you also have access to the BCBS 24/7 Nurseline @ (800) 299-0274. For AFLAC members, you have access to 24/7 care online @ www.MeMD.me/Aflac or by telephone (855) 423-8585. AFLAC me voluntary program not provided by the Company.
Other Employee Services
In addition to BCBS MDLive and Nurseline, and AFLAC, Rescar/AllTranstek employees and
their immediate household family members also now have access to Employee Connect
Services through Lincoln Financial Group. This is a wonderful Company provided “Employee Assistance Program” (EAP) that includes:
• Up to four sessions with a counselor per person, per issue, per year
• In-person help for short-term issues; up to four sessions with a counselor per person,
per issue, per year
• Toll-free phone and web access 24/7
• Unlimited phone access to legal, financial and work-life services
• A 25% discount on in-person consultations with network lawyers
• Financial consultations and referrals
• Work/life services for assistance with childcare, finding movers, kennels and pet care,
vacation planning, and more.
This EAP service can be a great help especially during these stressful times. For your
convenience, all of these programs and services are posted on the Rescar/AllTranstek
employee COVID19 sites (www.rescar.com/covid19 and www.alltranstek.com/covid19) and in the HR cabinet under Employee Benefits.
Shelter in Place/Travel Restrictions
Our Essential Business Designation is still in place for Rescar and AllTranstek and there are no restrictions on your ability to commute to and from your workplace. In fact, many states have issued clarifying orders that the vehicle travel restrictions do not apply to “commercial” or “essential infrastructure” businesses like ours. Keep our Essential Business Designation letter on your phone just in case and contact your supervisor if you have any problem.
Our Commitment to You
The Rescar and AllTranstek Senior Management teams are committed to you and your families’ safety. Your safety is our number one priority. Please continue to:
• Be an advocate/ promoter of your own personal hygiene – practice good habits
• Don’t come to work if you are ill
• Wash your hands; avoid touching your face, eyes and mouth
• Clean and disinfect regularly
• Practice social distancing – both at work and away from work
• Remember to keep safety first and foremost in everything we do
There will be changes and challenges ahead, but I am confident that together we will continue to overcome.
Reminder Company Updates
Important employee information, memos, updates, and resource materials continue to be posted on the Company websites:
• AllTranstek employees at www.alltranstek.com/covid19
• Rescar employees at www.rescar.com/covid19
Employees are encouraged to check these sites frequently for important updates and helpful information.
-Joseph F. Schieszler, Jr., CEO