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Rail unions countersue Metra over COVID vaccine policy


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) have responded to the suit Metra filed against them Nov. 8 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Chicago Division.

BLET and SMART-TD answered Metra's claims and filed counterclaims challenging Metra's vaccine policy without first bargaining the matter, officials from the unions said in a joint press release.

On Nov. 9, Metra asked a federal judge to preemptively rule that union workers who operate the Chicago commuter railroad’s trains can’t strike over COVID-19 vaccine requirements.

Under threat of discipline, up to and including termination of employment, Metra ordered its employees to report their vaccination status by Dec. 7, with a deadline of Jan. 21, 2022, to either submit proof that they are fully vaccinated or obtain a religious or medical accommodation, union officials said.

"Instead of negotiating with us as the law requires, the carrier is directly dealing with its employees," said BLET National President Dennis Pierce and SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson.

The unions' suit against Metra is similar to the railroad's claims against Union Pacific Railroad, Norfolk Southern Railway, BNSF Railway Co. and Amtrak regarding their vaccine policies.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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