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INDEPENDENCE, Ohio, November 22 — On November 17, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois consolidated multiple lawsuits that had been filed in the Illinois federal court, including ones by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) and two other rail unions challenging two Class I carriers’ implementation of COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

Both Union Pacific and Norfolk Southern announced in October that they would issue company-wide mandates that offered incentives for unionized employees who receive the COVID-19 vaccination and potential furlough for those who do not.

The unions argued that the carriers’ unilateral implementation of their mandates bypassed the collective-bargaining process and filed separate injunctions seeking that the status quo be maintained until the bargaining process be completed. The November 17 ruling combines those matters with legal action previously taken by Union Pacific and Norfolk Southern.

Along with the BLET, the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers-Transportation Division (SMART-TD) and the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division (BMWED) are involved in this case.