BLET GCA 150 Local Chairmen,
Wanted to share a post from the BLET National Division website which can be found at: https://ble-t.org/news/judge-rules-hi-viz-attendance-policy-court-case-as-a-minor-dispute/
I would encourage any member who has been impacted by this policy to send us a written statement, email is fine, with their account of how this policy affected them. A few of the examples our office has received and provided the attorneys are:
- A member’s wife went into labor as he arrived at the away from home terminal. He laid off away and secured a ride home to be with his spouse and be present for the birth of his child. The Carrier went thru and charged him points inclusive of LOA for the absence.
- In another case, a member was not feeling well while operating a train towards the away from home terminal. After getting to the hotel his condition only worsened so he requested a ride to the ER from the BNSF Trainmaster. The ER doctor advised him to stay off work until the following Monday, this incident happened on Thursday. He secured a ride home from a family member, and then visited his family doctor on Monday. Once released by his doctor late that Monday afternoon, he attempted to mark-up. He was then accosted by a BNSF manager at his home location for having an absence that occurred over Superbowl Sunday. This gentleman was still sitting at -17 points at our last update.
- In yet another instance, a member was not feeling well before he was called. He attempted to secure PLD or VAC from local supervision. The carrier officers denied that request at the local level stating they could not approve his attempts to secure paid days. Fearful of losing points, this gentleman went to work sick and vomiting, it’s unknown how many other employees he may have infected.
These are just 3 generalized examples of documentation we are requesting. Please note, the member’s statements that were used as examples above contained comprehensive detailed explanations with times, dates, and who was contacted to solidify their complaint. I would ask that any member who has received the same poor treatment write us a detailed email outlining their experience. As stated below, the fight is not over. Our office along with the other GCA offices will be compiling all of this documentation to begin the next stage of the battle. I would ask that each of you and your members review the posting below and follow thru with the What can you do? suggestions section. More info to follow as things develop.
Judge rules “Hi-Viz” attendance policy court case as a “minor” dispute
The following is a joint statement from Dennis Pierce, National President, BLET and Jeremy Ferguson, President, SMART Transportation Division:
Today the judge considering the case between BNSF and the SMART-TD and BLET unions over the carrier’s new “Hi-Viz” attendance policy ruled that the dispute was “minor” under the provisions of the Railway Labor Act (RLA).
What does this mean?
It means that any further action to pursue a strike would be illegal, exposing the Unions and their members to serious legal attacks as well as Carrier discipline up to and including dismissal. But this is only the first round in our fight against the Hi-Viz policy. In the coming days, the Unions will determine if the best course of action is to appeal today’s decision, or to move swiftly to arbitrate the policy before it can be used to terminate any employees. An arbitrator can strike down the policy. If that path is chosen, the Unions will move swiftly to make their case there instead of in the courtroom or on the picket lines.
Rest assured that we are all infuriated. One of the largest and richest corporations in America has been given a free pass to continue forcing its employees to work even when they or their families are sick, and when they are fatigued beyond the point of being able to work safely. BNSF is essentially thumbing its nose at the employees who make them billions of dollars in revenue.
SMART-TD and BLET are considering all legal possibilities to continue to challenge BNSF and its anti-worker, anti-family and unsafe attendance policy. In the coming weeks, the Union’s options are:
- Appeal the District Court decision, but delay arbitration of the policy by doing so
- Aggressively pursue arbitration to challenge every possible aspect of the “Hi-Viz” policy. This is where the actual impact of the policy will become crucial to the Union’s case.
- Demand that state and federal lawmakers pass laws which would protect employees from retaliation for laying off for legitimate reasons.
- Work with federal agencies to end draconian attendance policies on ALLrailroad carriers — not just BNSF.
- Call on Congress to amend the Railway Labor Act, to give rail workers freedom to fight back against the carriers’ abuse.
What can you do?
— Contact your General Chairperson. Your union needs to be able to explain how and why this attendance policy affects real workers. Examples of how this policy could affect you and your family, or how it did affect you after February 1 should be shared with your General Chairperson. These will empower your union to make its best case possible in arbitration.
— Contact your Congresspeople and Senators.Find your members of Congress and demand that they hear the concerns of the rail workers who are the backbone of this nation’s supply chain and that they should back the people who do the work rather than the financial overlords who have implemented these draconian policies.
— Sign up for action alerts. Our strength is in our collective voice. Action alerts from your union will send you to petitions to sign, elected officials to email, and social media posts to share. We are all angry, but we need to channel that anger into effective and legal action. Both the SMART-TD and the BLET will make sure that members are informed, educated, and empowered, just as rail unions have done in this country for more than a century.
If you have questions, do not hesitate to reach out to your union leadership.
National President, BLET
President, SMART Transportation Division
Click to view a PDF version of the joint statement: https://ble-t.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/2022.02.02_BNSF_joint_statement.pdf
Click to view a PDF of the entire court decision: https://ble-t.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/059_Order_Granting