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A U.S. District Court judge has ruled that a labor dispute over BNSF Railway Co.'s "hi-viz" or high-visibility attendance policy is a minor dispute under the federal Railway Labor Act.
The ruling means that further action on the part of the SMART-TD and Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) to pursue a strike over the policy would be illegal, union officials said yesterday in a joint press release.
The unions are considering whether to appeal the judge's ruling on the railroad's new attendance policy, which they characterize as "anti-worker, anti-family and unsafe."
In January, BNSF announced a new attendance system through which each employee starts with 30 attendance points that are subject to various deductions based on types of absences. If a worker exhausts the 30 points, he or she is subject to progressive discipline.
The system is designed to provide employees with greater flexibility, according to BNSF. "This policy update is consistent with practices across the transportation industry, while helping us safely and efficiently serve our customers and the communities that count on us," a BNSF spokeswoman said in an email.