Freight railroads are attempting to rapidly resume normal operations now that a deal has been reached to avoid a strike on Friday.
Members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen voted to strike if they deem it necessary as the unions and railroads fail to reach a contract agreement.
BNSF has made some changes to the attendance policy that it implemented in February, but unions say the changes don’t go far enough to prevent worker fatigue.
BLET and SMART-TD have decided to pursue binding arbitration in front of a third-party board instead of an appeal.
A U.S. district court determined that objections by two unions over BNSF’s new attendance standards qualify as being a minor dispute under federal law, meaning that it would be illegal for the unions to strike over the issue.
Two rail unions have sent a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Labor Secretary Martin Walsh criticizing the attendance policies of BNSF and other Class I railroads.
Members of BLET and SMART-TD plan to continue pursuing legal action despite a federal judge’s temporary restraining order barring them from striking.
Judge Mark T. Pittmann agreed to BNSF’s request calling for a temporary restraining order that would prevent union employees from striking as both sides potentially negotiate over BNSF’s new attendance program.
Ten unions want a mediator to assist with negotiations for a new labor agreement between the unions and U.S. freight railroads. The railroads agree.