Saturday, June 10, 2023

BNSF changes attendance rules but unions still complain

OMAHA, Neb. ( Associated Press) — The BNSF railroad is rolling out changes to its tough new attendance policy that upsets workers, but unions challenged The rules say the changes don’t go far enough since they took effect in February.

Railroad has told employees that starting next month it will make several small changes to the formula it uses to determine whether workers are missing too many shifts.

Unions say the rules still do little to encourage workers to show up when they are sick or tired. He also argues that the rules have contributed to over 700 employees leaving the train at a time when the BNSF is struggling for fares.

The BNSF’s two largest unions, representing nearly half of the railroad’s 35,000 workers – the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, and the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Unions – are both fighting the policy. Because it was announced. A federal judge ruled earlier this year They could not strike on this issue so they are now trying to address their concerns through mediation.

“The newly announced changes by BNSF Railways to their hi-vis attendance policy are little more than fluff,” said BLET President Dennis Pearce. “Hi-Vis has been a serious failure. This unfair policy that puts locomotive engineers and other railroaders on call, day after day, round the clock, has led to the laying off of hundreds of BNSF employees and has led to the recruitment of new staff. has made it a nightmare.”

The railroad has said the policy is helping to ensure that it has the necessary staff to provide its trains. The BNSF on Monday said the railroad has indeed seen an increase in the number of holidays and employees have taken personal days since the policy came into force.

And the rules haven’t kept the railroad from hiring, which it has prioritized to help eliminate widespread delays that shippers are complaining about. Spring.

“We currently have more train crew personnel today than a year ago, along with a robust recruitment plan for 2022 with 300 new staff being trained already,” BNSF said.

Under the new policy, engineers and conductors start with 30 marks, and then marks are deducted for absenteeism, with a deduction of two points to 25 marks. A worker can earn back four points by being available to work for 14 consecutive days including weekends. An employee will be disciplined when their marks run out.

Now Railroad plans to award seven bonus points to employees who log the most hours in a month. Workers will also receive an additional point if they are available to work immediately before or after planned holidays, show up on holidays and other demanding days or if they have to report to work between Friday afternoon and Saturday afternoon. it happens.

The head of the Transport Trade Department union alliance that includes BLET, SMART-TD and several other rail unions said the changes BNSF is making will not change the overall impact of the policy as earning one or two extra points will result in a loss of provisions. Will not be compensated. 15-point deduction for being unable to work on leave.

“The proposed changes to its hi vis attendance policy by BNSF are ineffective. These changes do nothing to address the fundamental flaws in the policy,” said TTD President Greg Regan.

BNSF, which is based in Fort Worth, Texas, is one of the largest railroads in the United States, and it operates 32,500 miles (52,300 km) of track in 28 western states. It is owned by Warren Buffett’s Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire Hathaway Group, and dozens of railroad workers recently demonstrated outside Berkshire’s annual meeting. Because of their concerns about attendance rules.


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