Judge blocks BNSF’s 2 biggest unions from going on strike

Published: Feb. 23, 2022 at 5:26 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A federal judge has extended an order preventing the two largest unions at BNSF from going on strike over a new attendance policy the railroad imposed this month. The judge ruled that a strike by the unions that represent 17,000 BNSF workers would violate federal law.

Judge Mark Pittman determined the issue is a minor dispute under their contracts, so it must be settled through negotiations or arbitration. He said a strike would arguably hurt “every single American” because of the damage it could do to the economy and all the businesses that rely on BNSF to deliver their products.

Union leaders said they were “infuriated” by the ruling and will consider appealing. The unions argued that the new rules discourage workers from taking sick time during the pandemic and penalize employees for missing work for any reason.

BNSF, which is based in Fort Worth, Texas, said employees will still be able to take time off for vacations and deal with obligations outside of work under the new rules, which will help ensure it has enough employees available to run its trains.

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