As the nation continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, RSI is working with federal, state, and local governments to ensure that there are clear and consistent guidelines in place surrounding the continued operations of the railway supply industry. While the health and safety of employees always comes first, we are committed to ensuring that the railway supply industry continues to do its part in serving freight and passenger railroad customers as they meet the needs of our communities and the nation. Critical supplies and resources must keep moving on our rail systems without disruption. A reliable network of railway supply manufacturing, maintenance and repair facilities, and their employees, are crucial to ensuring that railroads can continue to support America’s COVID-19 response.
Federal Guidance on Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers and Critical Manufacturing Operations
On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released a guidance memorandum identifying categories of "Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers" deemed critical to the continuity of functions vital to public health and safety. Although the memorandum is not binding, it is intended to provide clear and consistent guidance to State and local jurisdictions as they develop their own definitions of essential critical infrastructure workers. Many states have directly aligned their state-specific measures placing restrictions on certain business operations with the CISA guidance. Even in states that have not done so, RSI has worked with them to receive assurance that all rail supply operations, including critical manufacturing, repair and maintenance of rail equipment and infrastructure, are considered part of the essential critical infrastructure workforce. You can find CISA's full guidance here and RSI's statement on the guidance here. CISA has indicated it will continue to update this guidance (and the categories of workers identified therein) as it receives feedback from various stakeholders. We will keep you apprised of any changes to this guidance as it relates to the rail supply industry.
Individual State Restrictions on Manufacturing Operations
Over the past several days, multiple states have issued emergency orders to help limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) has compiled a state-by-state list
of these orders and RSI continues to monitor each of them closely for potential impacts on railway supply operations.
For businesses that have any concerns about how a specific restriction on business operations applies to their company, we note that many jurisdictions have set up specific procedures for companies to request a waiver and/or guidance from the appropriate state/local authority.
Letter of Continuity of Operations for Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers
RSI's legal counsel has also drafted a template letter
for companies to use to communicate to managers, employees, or third parties with questions about a company’s operations to clarify how the CISA guidance identifies rail suppliers as “essential critical infrastructure workers” in the event they are concerned about differences between federal and state/local definitions. The National Association of Manufacturers has also provided a draft letter
indicating a company's essential manufacturing operations that can be used to communicate with Governors and other state agencies.
As State and local jurisdictions continue to put additional COVID-19 response measures into place around the country, RSI continues to strongly encourage companies to follow the CDC's guidance for businesses and employees to ensure the health and safety of your employees and our communities.