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Rail News: Labor

Three rail unions sue BNSF over locomotive outsourcing work


Three rail labor unions are suing BNSF Railway Co. over the Class I's outsourcing of locomotive inspection, maintenance and repair work.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) District 19, and International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers-Mechanical and Engineering Department (SMART-MD) announced March 7 that they filed the suit last month in the U.S. District Court of Western Missouri.

In early January, BNSF notified IBEW, IAM District 19 and SMART-MD that the Class I lacked the shop capacity and necessary manpower to address its high out-of-service locomotive count, and that it would outsource the routine inspection, maintenance and repair of hundreds of locomotives — work that the members of the three unions have performed for decades, union officials said in a joint press release.

Under federal labor laws, BNSF has the duty to act in good faith with its employees and the unions that represent them, and to exert every reasonable effort to honor its agreements with those unions, union officials said. The lawsuit asserts that BNSF has failed to uphold that duty.

BNSF did not respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.