The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced their allocations of $345 million left in the DHS competitive preparedness grant programs for fiscal year 2018. The grant money, totaling more than $1.6 billion for 2018, is used to assist states, local areas, tribal and territorial governments, nonprofit agencies and the private sector with their terror preparedness efforts.
Of the $345 million recently allocated, Amtrak received $10 million to “protect critical surface transportation infrastructure and the public from acts of terrorism and to increase the resilience of the Amtrak rail system.”
The DHS allocated $88 million to the Transit Security Grant Program (TSGP). “The TSGP provides money to owners and operators of transit systems to protect critical surface transportation and the traveling public from acts of terrorism and to increase the resilience of transit infrastructure.”
Some of the recipients of the TSGP include Dallas Area Rapid Transit ($542,905), SEPTA ($3.6 million), WMATA ($5.4 million), LACMTA ($6.2 million) and many others.
The Intercity Bus Security Grant Program (IBSGP) was allocated $2 million to “assist operators of fixed-route intercity and charter bus services in high threat urban areas to protect bus systems and the traveling public from acts of terrorism, major disasters and other emergencies.”
Click here for a press release from DHS detailing which agencies are awarded funds.

Yvonne Hayes, chairperson of Local 1138 in Miami, Florida, and an assistant general chairperson (GO‐851), was recently selected to serve as a member of the FEMA National Advisory Council (NAC) Railroad Emergency Services Preparedness, Operational Needs and Safety Evaluation (RESPONSE) subcommittee. She is the sole committee member representing rail labor.
Hayes brings nearly 40 years of experience in the labor movement and 25 years in freight rail, to her new role. Her career in transportation and focus on safety was ingrained at a young age, as Hayes’ father was an airline pilot who also served as the safety chairperson for his union. She grew up listening to real-life accident scenarios in the transportation industry—and her father’s focus on safety and “doing the job right” above all else, has stayed with her throughout her career.
In 2008, she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Labor Studies and Occupational Safety & Health from the National Labor College, and later taught industrial safety and instructional systems design courses at the CollegeHayes is an authorized OSHA Trainer for 10- and 30-hour courses on industry safety standards.
She also serves as a Staff Peer Trainer for the Rail Workers’ Hazmat Training Program (RWHMTP).  The RWHMTP, a consortium of nine rail unions, is designed to educate rail workers beyond the generalized safety training provided by carriers, and empowers rail workers with increased knowledge on the risks associated with rail transport of hazardous materials.
Hayes has worked with her fellow RWHMTP trainers in developing innovative curricula that arms railroaders with the confidence they need to master safety rules and regulations and to understand the science behind them. Her “Railworkers HazMat Toolbox”, developed under a Hazardous Materials Instructor Training (HMIT) grant by the Department of Transportation (DOT), was designed to provide hazmat awareness-level training in short sessions, specifically tailored to the daily safety briefing slots on the railroad. Additionally, Hayes collaborates frequently with members of SMART‐TD around the country—at locals, workshops and regional meetings, conducting Labor, Safety & Health seminars and hazmat courses.
Hayes has been a mentor to new hire conductors at her terminal and was also one of the labor members of CSX’s Labor‐Management Rule Simplification Team, whose mission was to rewrite the CSX Operating Rules manual with the end goal of eliminating “gray areas” that allowed CSX managers to interpret rules differently from one day to the next.  In 2014, Hayes had the honor of being selected as one of two labor members to represent this team at the Railroad Safety Leadership Forum of the American Association of Railroads.
In addition to her recent appointment to the FEMA RESPONSE subcommittee, Hayes continues to serve as one of the SMART TD representatives on the Hazardous Materials Working Group of the FRA Rail Safety Advisory Committee.
Hayes’ recent appointment will bring railroad safety issues from a labor perspective to the national forefront, and will allow Hayes to apply her freight rail safety experience and expertise to affect positive change and make the railroad safer for everyone.
“Yvonne has been a longtime leader on hazardous materials transport concerns, and we are very proud that she will now be a strong voice on the federal level regarding these critical issues that have a significant safety impact on our rail membership, said John Previsich, President of the SMART Transportation Division.
Hayes zeroed in on how her appointment will help support rail labor:
“The most important thing is that this is an opportunity for rail labor to assist our brothers and sisters in the field of emergency services to stay safe when they respond to a derailment or other railroad emergency. I am honored to represent SMART Transportation Division and all rail labor in this new role,” she said.
Photo: Yvonne Hayes at Women’s March in Washington, D.C. – January 2017

Union members living in areas impacted by the recent tornadoes and flooding, and who participate in Union Plus programs, may be eligible for financial assistance.

Union Plus disaster relief grants of $500 are available to help participants in the Union Plus credit card, insurance or mortgage programs who are facing financial hardship due to the recent severe weather. The money does not have to be repaid.

Union Plus mortgage holders may also be eligible to receive payment extensions or other special help.

To qualify for a Union Plus disaster relief grant, the union member must:

  • Have been a victim of the severe weather in counties designated by FEMA as qualifying for individual assistance.
  • Have experienced a significant loss of income or property due to the disaster.
  • Have had a Union Plus credit card, Union Plus insurance policy or Union Plus mortgage for at least 12 months, with the account or policy up to date in payments.
  • Describe his or her circumstances and document the income or property loss.

To apply for a disaster relief grant, union members eligible should call:

  • Union Plus credit card: (877) 761-5028
  • Union Plus mortgage: (800) 472-2005
  • Union Plus insurance: (800) 472-2005
  • Go to

UnitedHealth Group and its family of companies, including UnitedHealthcare, Ovations, AmeriChoice, OptumHealth and Prescription Solutions, are assisting thos affected by the flooding in parts of Tennessee.

This includes relief to health plan customers who may need to refill prescription medications that may have been misplaced as a result of the storms; opening a free counseling help line; and a $50,000 donation toward the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, which will help support people affected by the storms in Tennessee and other southeastern states.

Early prescription refills: Those displaced or without access to their medications, and who use UnitedHealthcare Pharmacy, who call and identify that they have been affected by the storms and flooding, will be able to have prescription medications filled if they have refills remaining on file at a participating retail or mail-order pharmacy. 

This includes plan participants enrolled in all fully insured commercial products, Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement or Medicare Part D offerings, and AARP MedicareRx plans. For mail-order delivery service to affected areas or any other questions related to prescriptions, call the pharmacy number on the back of your ID card, or speak directly to a pharmacist about their situation.

This policy is effective immediately and will remain active until at least May 17.

Help line for community residents: OptumHealth, UnitedHealth Group’s health and wellness business, is providing a free help line for people coping with the emotional consequences of the flooding. Staffed by experienced behavioral health specialists, the help line offers assistance to callers seeking help in dealing with stress, anxiety and the grieving process. Callers may also receive referrals to community resources to help them with specific concerns, such as financial and legal issues.

The toll-free help line number, (866) 342-6892, is available 24/7 for as long as necessary. This service is free of charge to all Tennesseans even if they are not UnitedHealthcare customers. Resources and information are also available online at

Support for the American Red Cross: UnitedHealthcare and UnitedHealthcare by AmeriChoice, which serve thousands of health plan customers in Tennessee, has given a $50,000 donation to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. UnitedHealth Group participates in the Annual Disaster Giving Program of the American Red Cross, a group of leading companies who have pledged donations to the Red Cross during major disasters to ensure an immediate response will meet the needs of people who are affected by disasters of all sizes, at no cost and regardless of income.

The donation will enable the Red Cross to provide support for shelters, meals, and clean-up and comfort kits, as well as mental health support for families and individuals in the affected community. On those rare occasions when donations exceed Red Cross expenses for a specific disaster, contributions are used to prepare for and serve victims of other disasters.

People interested in providing additional assistance can contact the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund to help provide food, shelter and counseling for people affected by disasters like the recent flooding by logging onto or by calling (800) RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or (800) 257-7575 (Spanish) to make a donation. Contributions to the Disaster Relief Fund may also be sent to a local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013.

Below are additional resources for relief from the flooding in Tennessee:

Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, 3041 Sidco Drive, Nashville, TN 37204; (615) 741-0001;

Situation reports regarding the flooding are being published on the Web site above. Please note that Governor Phil Bredesen has declared a state of emergency.

Nashville Area Red Cross, 2201 Charlotte Ave., Nashville, TN 37203; (615) 250-4300;

Note that there are currently 17 emergency shelters open throughout middle and west Tennessee. See a list of shelters below or call to locate the shelter nearest you and to discuss possible available assistance. Note that this office is available from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. and the national office is available at (800) 733-2767 from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Additionally please visit to view a list of available shelters.

Lipscomb University, 1 University Park Dr., Nashville, TN 37204

Gordon Jewish Community Center, 801 Percy Warner Blvd., Nashville, TN 37205

Fairview Recreation Center, 2714 Fairview Blvd., Fairview, TN 37062

Hazelwood Elementary School, 2623 Tiny Town Rd., Clarksville, TN 37042

Al Menah Shrine Center, 1354 Brick Church Pike, Nashville, TN 37207

First Assembly of God, 270 Arlington St., Erin, TN 37061

First United Methodist Church, 8029 Wilkinsville Rd., Millington, TN 38053

First Baptist Church, 220 Church St., Dover, TN 37058

Smyrna Town Center, 100 Sam Ridley Pkwy., East, Smyrna, TN 37167

Centerville Church of Christ, 138 North Central Ave., Centerville, TN 37033

College Hills Church of Christ, 1401 Leeville Pike, Lebanon, TN 37090

Haywood Junior High School, 1201 Haralson St., Brownsville, TN 38012

Waverly Church of Christ, 438 W. Main St., Waverly, TN 37185

Civic Center, 400 S. Highland Ave., Jackson, TN 38301

Baker Community Center, 8077 Wilkinsville Rd., Millington, TN 38053

People’s Church, 828 Murfreesboro Rd., Franklin, TN 37064

Ed Rice Community Center, 2907 North Watkins St., Memphis, TN 38127

Tennessee Department of Transportation, 505 Deaderick St., Suite 700, Nashville, TN 37243; (615) 741-2848;

The Web site provides information on road closures, incidents, and conditions that may result from an emergency or disaster. According to the Web site, “Flooding continues throughout West and Middle Tennessee, however all interstates are currently opened to traffic.” Please visit to view road closure information or call 5-1-1.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), 500 C Street S.W., Washington, DC 20472; (800) 621-FEMA;