Lawsuits Pile Up Over Railroads’ Vaccine Mandate

Amtrak became the latest railroad to be sued by a pair of unions over the COVID-19 vaccine. Photo by Justin Franz. 

Lawsuits Pile Up Over Railroads’ Vaccine Mandate

By Railfan & Railroad Staff

CLEVELAND — Two of the nation’s largest railroad unions are suing three Class I railroads and Amtrak over vaccine mandates. 

The leaders of 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) said they generally support vaccination. But what they don’t support are railroads going around the unions and negotiating directly with employees. 

The railroads counter that they are following government guidelines that are requiring all federal contractors (which the railroads are in some instances) to vaccinate all employees, as well as a mandate requiring all major employers (those with more than 100 employees) to vaccinate workers. 

Amtrak has told all employees that they must submit proof of vaccination before December 8, showing that they have gotten at least one shot. They must submit proof of the second shot by January 4, 2022, or be terminated. 

“Amtrak is directly dealing with its employees instead of negotiating with us over its unilateral mandate,” said BLET National President Dennis Pierce and SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson in a joint statement. “We have several objections to Amtrak’s unilateral implementation of its policies mandating them and illegally dealing directly with its represented employees. We will continue to fight on behalf of all BLET and SMART-TD members in an effort to stop Amtrak’s lawlessness in its tracks.”

The suit is similar to claims filed by the BLET and SMART-TD against Union Pacific, Norfolk Southern and BNSF Railway regarding their vaccine policies. 

This article was posted on: November 23, 2021