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Rail News: Labor

Rail unions seek immediate halt to BNSF, Metra vaccination mandates


The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) and the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART-TD) late last week filed motions for preliminary injunctions, seeking to immediately halt BNSF Railway Co.'s and Metra's COVID-19 vaccination mandates and require the railroads to negotiate the issue.

The BLET and SMART-TD seek to restore and preserve the status quo that was in place prior to the implementation of the mandates, union leaders said in a joint press release.

The suits filed Dec. 3 are in addition to the counterclaims BLET and SMART-TD filed against the carriers last month.

BNSF on Nov. 7 and Metra on Nov. 8 filed suits against the BLET and SMART-TD, among other unions, seeking a declaration from the courts that vaccine mandates concerned a "minor dispute" subject to arbitration on the grounds that it involves a matter of interpretation of the parties' existing collective bargaining agreements.

The carriers also sought orders prohibiting the BLET and SMART-TD from striking, picketing and taking other job actions in protest of the mandate.

BLET and SMART-TD counterclaimed on Nov. 12, alleging in part that the carriers' vaccine mandates are a "direct violation" of the Railway Labor Act.

The BLET and SMART-TD are involved in similar lawsuits with Amtrak, Norfolk Southern Railway and Union Pacific Railroad.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 12/6/2021