INDEPENDENCE, Ohio, May 16 — BNSF Railway’s newly announced changes to its Hi-Viz attendance policy are little more than fluff. Hi-Viz has been an abject failure. This unreasonable policy which keeps locomotive engineers and other railroaders on call day after day, around the clock, has caused hundreds of BNSF’s employees to quit and it has made recruitment of new employees a nightmare.
The railroad unilaterally implemented these minor changes on Friday without input from rail unions. These modifications do little to meet our members or their families’ needs.
The changes in policy show that BNSF’s CEO Katie Farmer and other executives of the railroad know that they have a problem. The railroad’s action also demonstrates that our union’s national campaign to expose its abuses is having an effect. Furthermore, it proves that questions raised by shippers, the Surface Transportation Board and Congress in recent days has added to the pressure on the railroad brought by workers and their unions.
The sad fact is that the nation’s supply chain challenges are partially due to a 29 percent cut in rail labor at the Class I railroads over the past six years. The Hi-Viz attendance policy exacerbates the breakdown in the supply chain and drives more railroaders away at a time of critical need. Not only is the supply chain failing, but this abusive and punitive attendance policy is breaking apart families and causing locomotive engineers and other railroaders to come to work dangerously fatigued.
Enough with the fluff. It’s time for BNSF as well as other railroads with similar attendance policies to sit down with their unions and negotiate staffing policies that work for the railroads, their customers and their employees.