Class I railroad carriers BNSF and NS declared an impasse this week in the mandatory bargaining over crew size under Section 6 of the Railway Labor Act (RLA). In declaring an impasse, the two railroads, represented by the National Railway Labor Conference (NRLC), seek federal mediation as required by the RLA. Union Pacific Railroad is not seeking mediation at this time.

Beginning in October 2019, most Class I carriers served notice under Section 6 of the RLA to force the SMART Transportation Division to bargain over crew size. Today crew size is determined by collective bargaining agreements implemented by Presidential Emergency Board 219 under then-President George H.W. Bush.

SMART-TD and the involved General Committees intend to continue to demonstrate the significant problems with the carriers’ plans and the current technology that carriers believe allows for a redeployment of conductors to ground-based positions.

SMART-TD General Committees and union leadership will continue to fight to protect the jobs of today as well as the jobs of the future and to ensure protection for SMART-TD members.


In the current episode of Talking SMART, we sit down with SMART TD President Jeremy Ferguson to talk about a subject that is foremost on the minds of many members. In February 2022, BNSF arbitrarily changed its attendance policy and took advantage of a pro-management judge to force (as of now… this episode was recorded in early March), a draconian “Hi-Viz” attendance policy upon the very members who have kept the company operational through the pandemic – and who earned BNSF record profits in 2021. President Ferguson also provides an update on contract negotiations with the national rail carriers.

The BNSF “Hi-Viz” attendance policy drew the attention of the U.K.-based Guardian media organization March 14.

“We feel stabbed in the back, completely demoralized with the work we did through the pandemic, understanding the situation, going the extra mile, and doing what we’re asked to do, and then some without complaint,” an engineer for the Class I carrier told Guardian reporter Michael Sainato about the punitive points-based policy, described in the article as “arcane.”

Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO President Greg Regan also was quoted in the article as well:

“This is a policy that, frankly, is just blind to the moment,” he said.

SMART Transportation Division and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) are both members of the AFL-CIO TTD.

BNSF earned record profits last year and implemented the Hi-Viz policy on Feb. 1.

Read the full article.

An NBC News report released March 7 detailed a nonprofit’s analysis that looked into how America’s largest railroads profited during last year’s supply chain crisis in conjunction with the continued enactment of their Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR) scheme.

Nonprofit group Accountable.US delved into the reasons why — namely that the Class Is collected more than $1.1 billion in demurrage fees thanks to supply-chain bottlenecks. The two largest carriers in the western U.S., BNSF and Union Pacific, also reported record profits in 2021 in their end-of-year earnings reports.

“Before the rail industry’s fees set a record during the pandemic, they had already increased by over 30% since 2000, all while railroads’ costs have only increased by 3%,” the Accountable.US report stated. “Railroads have used market power to cut costs — known as lowering their Operating Ratios — spending about $46 billion more on shareholder handouts than on maintenance and equipment since 2010.”

In addition to diving in on the details of the stock buybacks and other components of PSR, the Accountable.US analysis also went into additional details about the extent of the railroads’ lobbying efforts — all told, Class Is spent a combined total of $15.5 million to influence policy on Capitol Hill.

CLEVELAND, Ohio (March 7, 2022) — In conjunction with the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), the SMART Transportation Division (SMART-TD) and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) urge all members to engage in a petition drive to bring attention to the draconian and punitive attendance policies that have forced rail workers to live in constant fatigue.

This effort comes simultaneously with a letter by AFL-CIO TTD President Greg Regan to the federal Departments of Labor and Transportation in support of both unions’ request in late January for an investigation into all rail carrier attendance policies, not just BNSF’s recently imposed “Hi-Viz” policy that has sparked outrage among all affected employees.

The petition is available here.

“We speak with one voice, shoulder-to-shoulder, in saying enough is enough. Congress must act to end these unsafe and life-sapping policies that punish workers with job loss. These severe and excessively harsh policies also penalize families by taking away what precious little time they have with their loved ones, leaving them dead tired and drained,” SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson and BLET President Dennis Pierce said. “We thank TTD President Regan as our organizations continue to oppose draconian carrier attendance policies, such as the BNSF ‘Hi-Viz’ policy. These policies are clearly designed to further maximize carrier profits at the workers’ expense. Our unions will work jointly with TTD to raise awareness of these issues; they have gone unchallenged by our legislators and regulatory agencies for much too long.”

A case in point— according to a report in Business Insider published on March 4, five Democratic political leaders want an investigation by the Department of Labor (DOL) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) into Amazon’s attendance policies, and we have one question for them:

When do railroad workers get their turn?

Warren Buffett, while not as rich as Jeff Bezos, was crowing about BNSF’s record 2021 profits. It just so happens that his railroad, which happens to be the largest in the nation, imposed the draconian and punitive “Hi-Viz” policy that is absolutely in line with what Amazon is doing — points, permanent records and punishment for people if life gets in the way of work. Other Class I railroads have similar attendance policies. All of these need to be examined closely so that all workers receive the stable work-life balance that they DESERVE.

We’ve seen members’ posts on the internet, we have taken the calls and we have read and responded to the emails from our memberships. This is a top priority for SMART Transportation Division and BLET leaders. We need to work together and unite for a positive change instead of directing anger and discontent inward. As we continue to work with our elected leaders for the same help and support, it stands to reason that we will be reminding Senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Richard Blumenthal as well as Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Cory Booker and Cori Bush that they should push for answers from BNSF and other railroads with the same energy and focus that they are placing on Amazon.

###

The SMART Transportation Division is comprised of approximately 125,000 active and retired members of the former United Transportation Union, who work in a variety of crafts in the transportation industry.

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen represents nearly 57,000 professional locomotive engineers and trainmen throughout the United States. The BLET is the founding member of the Rail Conference, International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

Attention all SMART-TD and BLET members! Tonight at 7:00 p.m. central standard time (8:00 p.m. EST), SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson and BLET President Dennis Pierce will be airing a joint interview on the Rails Tails & Trails YouTube channel, which can be viewed at the following link: https://youtu.be/6N9r6QIGqA8.

Presidents Ferguson and Pierce will be providing updates on recent developments with BNSF’s HiViz attendance policy, commentary on our national rail contract negotiations, and discussion of other important issues affecting members of both Unions. 

As additional information, beginning at 6:00 p.m. CST (7:00 p.m. EST), Rails Tails & Trails host Jon Chaffin will be doing a giveaway for supporters of his channel. All members are encouraged to tune in, subscribe to the channel, and leave your feedback in the comments section. We are looking forward to finding out if you think the interview is informational, and if you would like the presidents to join a future episode on the Rails Tails & Trails podcast. If so, please comment on which issues you would like to see them discuss. 

We thank you for your continued support as we work diligently to keep all members informed!


4th Quarter 2021
Net Earnings: Increased 13% to $1.7 billion from $1.5 billion
Diluted Earnings Per Share: n/a – BNSF is not publicly traded
Revenue: Increased 11% to $6.3 billion from $5.7 billion
Operating Income: Increased 12% to $2.4 billion from $2.2 billion
Operating Expenses: Increased 10% to $3.9 billion from $3.5 billion
Operating Ratio: Improved to 60.0% from 60.3%


2021 Annual Earnings
Net Earnings: Increased 16% to $6.0 billion from $5.2 billion
Diluted Earnings Per Share: n/a – BNSF is not publicly traded
Revenue: Increased 12% to $23.3 billion from $20.9 billion
Operating Income: Increased 14% to $8.8 billion from $7.7 billion
Operating Expenses: Increased 10% to $14.5 billion from $13.1 billion
Operating Ratio: Improved to 60.9% from 61.6%
Read BNSF’s full earnings report.


4th Quarter 2021
Net Earnings: Increased 17% to C$1.20 billion from C$1.02 billion
Diluted Earnings Per Share: Increased 18% to $1.69 per share from $1.43 per share
Revenue: Increased 3% to C$3.75 billion from C$3.66 billion
Operating Income: Increased 11% to a record C$1.57 billion from C$1.41 billion
Operating Expenses: Decreased 1% to C$2.19 billion from C$2.25 billion
Operating Ratio: Improved 3.1 points to 58.3% from 61.4%

2021 Annual Earnings
Net Earnings: Increased 37% to C$4.90 billion from C$3.60 billion
Diluted Earnings Per Share: Increased 38% to $6.89 per share from $5.00 per share
Revenue: Increased 5% to C$14.48 billion from C$13.82 billion
Operating Income: Increased 18% to C$5.62 billion from C$4.78 billion
Operating Expenses: Decreased 2% to C$8.86 billion from C$9.04 billion
Operating Ratio: Improved 4.2 points to 61.2% from 65.4%
Read CN’s full earnings report.


4th Quarter 2021
Net Earnings: Decreased 34% to C$532 million from C$802 million
Diluted Earnings Per Share: Decreased 38% to $0.74 per share from $1.19 per share
Revenue: Increased 1% to C$2.04 billion from C$2.01 billion
Operating Income: Decreased 10% to C$832 million from C$928 million
Operating Expenses: Increased 11% to C$1.21 billion from C$1.08 billion
Operating Ratio: Worsened 530 basis points to 59.2% from 53.9%

2021 Annual Earnings
Net Earnings: Increased 17% to C$2.9 billion from C$2.44 billion
Diluted Earnings Per Share: Increased 16% to $4.18 per share from $3.59 per share
Revenue: Increased 4% to C$8.0 billion from C$7.71 billion
Operating Income: Decreased 3% to C$3.21 billion from C$3.31 billion
Operating Expenses: Increased 9% to C$4.80 billion from C$4.40 billion
Operating Ratio: Worsened 280 basis points to 59.9% from 57.1%
Read CP’s full earnings report.


4th Quarter 2021 
Net Earnings: Increased 23% to $934 million from $760 million
Earnings Per Share: Increased 27% to $0.42 per share from $0.33 per share
Revenue: Increased 21% to $3.43 billion from $2.83 billion
Operating Income: Increased 12% to $1.37 billion from $1.22 billion
Operating Expenses: Increased 28% to $2.1 billion from $1.6 billion
Operating Ratio: Worsened to 60.1% from 57.0%

2021 Annual Earnings
Net Earnings: Increased 37% to $3.8 billion from $2.8 billion
Earnings Per Share: Increased 40% to $1.68 per share from $1.20 per share
Revenue: Increased 18% to $12.52 billion from $10.58 billion
Operating Income: Increased 28% to $5.6 billion from $4.4 billion
Operating Expenses: Increased 11% to $6.9 billion from $6.2 billion
Operating Ratio: Improved to 55.3% from 58.8%
Read CSX’s full earnings report.


4th Quarter 2021
Net Earnings: Increased 258% to $595.1 million from $166.3 million
Earnings Per Share: On December 14, 2021, Canadian Pacific Railway acquired the outstanding common and preferred stock of KCS. Therefore, earnings per share data is not presented because the company does not have any outstanding or issued publicly traded stock.
Revenue: Increased 8% to $747.8 million from $693.4 million
Operating Income: Increased 209% to $810.6 million from $262.3 million
Operating Expenses: Decreased 115% to a negative $62.8 million from $431.1 million due to the merger
Operating Ratio: Improved 70.6 points to –8.4% from 62.2%

2021 Annual Earnings 
Net Earnings: Decreased 15% to $527 million from $619 million
Earnings Per Share: On December 14, 2021, Canadian Pacific Railway acquired the outstanding common and preferred stock of KCS. Therefore, earnings per share data is not presented because the company does not have any outstanding or issued publicly traded stock.
Revenue: Increased 12% to $2.95 billion from $2.63 billion
Operating Income: Decreased 12% to $884 million from $1.00 billion
Operating Expenses: Increased 27% to $2.06 billion from $1.63 billion
Operating Ratio: Worsened 8.1 points to 70.0% from 61.9%
Read KCS’s full earnings report.


4th Quarter 2021
Net Earnings: Increased 13% to $760 million from $671 million
Diluted Earnings Per Share: Increased 18% to $3.12 per share from $2.64 per share
Revenue: Increased 11% to $2.9 billion from $2.6 billion
Operating Income: Increased 15% to a 4th quarter record of $1.1 billion from $1.0 billion
Operating Expenses: Increased 8% to $1.7 billion from $1.59 billion
Operating Ratio: Improved 2% to a 4th quarter record 60.4% from 61.8%

2021 Annual Earnings 
Net Earnings: Increased 27% to $3 billion from $2 billion
Diluted Earnings Per Share: Increased 31% to $12.11 per share from $7.84 per share
Revenue: Increased 14% to $11.1 billion from $9.8 billion
Operating Income: Increased 28% to a record $4.4 billion from $3.0 billion
Operating Expenses: Decreased 1% to $6.7 billion from $6.8 billion
Operating Ratio: Improved 7% to an all-time record of 60.1% from 69.3%
Read NS’s full earnings report.

4th Quarter 2021 
Net Earnings: Increased 24% to $1.7 billion from $1.4 billion
Earnings Per Share: Increased 30% to $2.67 per share from $2.05 per share
Revenue: Increased 12% to $5.7 billion from $5.1 billion
Operating Income:  Increased 22% to $2.4 billion from $2.0 billion
Operating Expenses: Increased 5% to $3.3 billion from $3.1 billion
Operating Ratio: Improved 3.6 points to 57.4% from 61.0%

2021 Annual Earnings 
Net Earnings: Increased 22% to $6.5 billion from $5.3 billion
Earnings Per Share: Increased 26% to $9.98 per share from $7.90 per share
Revenue: Increased 12% to $21.8 billion from $19.5 billion
Operating Income: Increased 19% to $9.3 billion from $7.8 billion
Operating Expenses: Increased 7% to $12.5 billion from $11.7 billion
Operating Ratio: Improved 2.7 points to 57.2% from 59.9%

“The Union Pacific team concluded its most profitable year ever in 2021. We produced double-digit fourth-quarter revenue growth by leveraging our great rail franchise to generate positive business mix and core pricing gains,” UP CEO Lance Fritz said.
Read UP’s full earnings report.


Notes: 

  • Operating ratio is a railroad’s operating expenses expressed as a percentage of operating revenue, and is considered by economists to be the basic measure of carrier profitability. The lower the operating ratio, the more efficient the railroad.
  • All comparisons are made to 2020’s fourth-quarter and 2020 year-end results respectively for each railroad.
  • All figures for CN & CP are in Canadian currency, except for earnings per share.

To receive text messages and the latest alerts regarding the BNSF Hi-Viz policy, please text HiViz to 67336.

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 unions’ 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 unions’ 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 ALL railroad carriers — not just BNSF.
  • Call on Congress to amend the RLA 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. Click here to 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. Text HiViz to 67336 for text alerts or click here to sign up for emails. ​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.

In solidarity,

Jeremy Ferguson and Dennis Pierce
President, SMART-TD and National President, BLET

Brothers and sisters:

As we enter this new year, it is important to reflect on where we have been, what challenges we have faced and what accomplishments we have made together. I am excited about our future and can say, with certainty, we are more prepared now than ever to face it head-on, with the best interests of our fellow brothers and sisters at the forefront.

While the last few years have had their share of trials, I am confident better days are ahead.

Amit Bose, President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the Federal Railroad Administration, was confirmed Jan. 12 after a long wait. His ascension is one more step toward a common-sense regulation of freight rail crew size with safety, not profits, in mind. TD leadership looks ahead with great anticipation as we continue building the relationship we have established with him and the federal Department of Transportation.

I am also pleased to note that the Biden administration nominee for the vacant position on the National Mediation Board, Deidre Hamilton, was installed. This creates a 2-to-1 Democratic majority and a much more labor-friendly board than what we have had to deal with the last four years. This confirmation likely spurred NMB to work on the logjam of requested representation elections ignored by the previous administration. Our Organizing Department has six cases filed and reported that ballots are out on five. We are hopeful we’ll be able to welcome these properties into the SMART family soon.

I hear you loud and clear that better working conditions (removing bad attendance policies and getting better quality of life) are at the top of your list of things that need fixed as soon as possible.

Of course, NMB will play a key role as we, along with the other Coordinated Bargaining Coalition unions, announced in late January that national rail contract discussions had reached an impasse. They will select a mediator whom we hope will move negotiations past the past two years’ worth of insulting offers that the carriers have presented and into a truly constructive and realistic phase. Our members deserve nothing less after moving America’s freight during this pandemic. I hear you loud and clear that better working conditions (removing bad attendance policies and getting better quality of life) are at the top of your list of things that need fixed as soon as possible. That is why we challenged BNSF’s draconian and punitive Hi Viz attendance policy. We will stand up to mistreatment of our members, especially when carriers continue to crow about record profits.

The last couple of years have seen membership numbers drastically decline, but I am thrilled to announce we have a new local, 1706, opening up in the Kansas City area for approximately 200 new members working for Student Transportation of America. Vice President Calvin Studivant has been working closely with these new members and has completed their first fully ratified agreement. Congratulations to our new bus members, and welcome!

I have been fortunate to be invited and to attend a number of union meetings, Labor Day events and holiday cookouts recently. This allowed me the opportunity to openly talk with the membership and update them on the state of our UNION. I am looking forward to many more of these face-to-face meetings in 2022. I hear you loud and clear that better working conditions (removing bad attendance policies and getting better quality of life) are at the top of your list of things that need fixed as soon as possible.

It has been frustrating that we have not had our normal annual regional meetings the last two years, but I must say that I am proud of a number of our state legislative directors and general chairpersons who stepped up and took matters into their own hands. They organized “Regional Training Seminars” that consist of a variety of training and classes for local officers. I was honored to be asked to address the groups and spend time with those in attendance. SMART-TD provided a number of the facilitators and additional support and that, along with the hard work of the aforementioned SLDs and GCs, made all of them huge successes.

These have been so impactful that we are planning on additional seminars to be scheduled next year. If this is something you have an interest in attending, please let your SLD or GC know. I look forward to seeing more of you in the coming year at these meetings!

“Solidarity” is a word we throw around a lot, but it is always an adrenaline rush when you see it in action. I was excited to be invited and participate in a huge rally in Chicago in November to assist the Metra Passenger Rail Coalition. All Metra crafts were fighting for a good contract after being faced with what seemed to be never-ending mediation. VP Jamie Modesitt, Alternate National Legislative Director Jared Cassity and I didn’t need to be asked twice by GC Chip Waugh if we wanted in. The big blow-up rat and bullhorns blaring with the Chicago PD out to keep the crowd under control was exhilarating to say the least. We had local and state legislators and U.S. Reps. Chuy Garcia and Marie Newman show up to lend their support. It was yet another example of what organized labor can accomplish — together!

Your union also is continuing to get things done. We added many more features to the SMART app, making it more of a vital resource and advancing our technological presence. We’ve been able to adapt to a new way of leadership training with regional training seminars and coming soon our virtual educational efforts with SMART University. We are also developing a new website that will be more interactive, to name but a few.

There’s a lot going on and a lot more to come. I am excited and proud to be on this journey with you.

In closing, I ask that you do everything in your power to keep yourself and your fellow sisters and brothers safe on the job. Safety is a gift we give our families each and every day.

Please stay safe and God bless!

Jeremy R. Ferguson
President, Transportation Division


CLEVELAND, Ohio, (February 8, 2022) — Yesterday, SMART-TD and the BLET filed their oppositions to BNSF’s request for the court to convert the January 25, 2022, Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) into a preliminary injunction. The unions each filed for their own preliminary injunctions against BNSF’s implementation of its new Hi Viz attendance policy last week on February 2.

SMART-TD and BLET continue to maintain that BNSF’s policy, issued in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and continuing supply chain issues caused in significant part by the nation’s railroads’ own cost-cutting measures, represents the epitome of corporate greed. This new policy will require employees to choose between going to work sick and spreading the COVID-19 virus to their co-workers and those co-workers’ families or face termination by BNSF, once more proving there is no shame amongst the modern-day robber barons like BNSF.

While SMART-TD and BLET will continue to abide by the court’s TRO, it will continue to use every legal means available to prevent BNSF from carrying on its unconscionable and illegal attendance policy. Additional information will be forthcoming as it is available.

A copy of the SMART-TD’s opposition to BNSF’s motion for preliminary injunction is available.

The appendix accompanying the SMART-TD filing is available.

###

The SMART Transportation Division is comprised of approximately 125,000 active and retired members of the former United Transportation Union, who work in a variety of crafts in the transportation industry.

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen represents nearly 57,000 professional locomotive engineers and trainmen throughout the United States. The BLET is the founding member of the Rail Conference, International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

CLEVELAND, Ohio, (February 1, 2022) — By letter dated January 31, 2022, SMART-TD and the BLET are seeking review by both the Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Transportation of all Class I attendance policies. In a joint letter to Labor Secretary Martin Walsh and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson and BLET President Dennis Pierce ask the secretaries to immediately investigate all carrier attendance policies that refuse to provide exceptions for fatigue-related absences, as well as those that refuse to provide exceptions for illness-related absences.

Referencing the most recent “Hi-Viz” policy on BNSF set to go into effect today, the presidents said: “The new policy also potentially subjects employees to disciplinary action when they request time off because they are ill or when they need to tend to sick family members. This includes time off under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), as this policy disincentivizes employees from utilizing this protected leave by prohibiting ‘Good Attendance Credit’ from ever being gained because of its use.”

Addressing fatigue concerns, the presidents said: “The only tool these engineers and trainmen have to prepare for their unscheduled work shifts are so-called ‘train lineups,’ which are managed solely by the railroad. Moreover, BNSF has openly admitted that the quality of these lineups and the related predictability for the on-duty times is far from adequate. As a result, engineers and trainmen are routinely called for duty without having any knowledge or awareness of the potential for work (at that particular time), thus subsequently preventing them from the ability to be physically rested prior to their being called to work. For example, it is commonplace for these employees to be suddenly called into work for an evening shift when they didn’t expect to be called in until the morning according to the available train lineups. Under BNSF’s new Hi-Viz policy, even though they may be fatigued, they are not allowed to refuse the unpredicted call for duty without potentially being subjected to employer discipline, up to and including dismissal. Forcing these employees to choose between their job or their safety in the workplace is in complete contradiction to BNSF’s obligation to protect public safety and to provide a safe workplace environment.”

The presidents said the harsh policies fly in the face of railroad safety laws and government regulations. The policies also would negatively impact already-diminished workforce staffing and would contribute to an increase in the “already historic levels of mid-career resignations.”

President Ferguson and President Pierce concluded: “It is imperative that the Department of Transportation and Department of Labor act to address this most egregious railroad policy, as well as those implemented by NS, CSX, Union Pacific, and any other railroad with similar policies. The safety and health of the engineers and trainmen who are employed at BNSF, and the safety of the general public, stands in the balance.”

Read the presidents’ letter to the DOT and DOL secretaries.

###

The SMART Transportation Division is comprised of approximately 125,000 active and retired members of the former United Transportation Union, who work in a variety of crafts in the transportation industry.

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen represents nearly 57,000 professional locomotive engineers and trainmen throughout the United States. The BLET is the founding member of the Rail Conference, International Brotherhood of Teamsters.