Congresswoman Marie Newman leads letter in urging BNSF Railway to engage workers on new attendance policy
U.S. Representative Marie Newman (IL-03) on Friday March 4, 2022 led Congress members Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) in a letter urging BNSF Railway Company to re-engage in good faith discussions with their employees and unions regarding a newly imposed attendance policy.
BNSF Railway Company, the largest freight rail network in North America, recently adopted a “Hi-VIZ” attendance policy for its more than 35,000 employees, a points-based system for workers that changes depending on how often they work versus how many days they take off.
“While the rest of the world shut down, BNSF employees continued their role as essential frontline workers, helping to ensure our commerce network remained intact throughout the course of the ongoing global pandemic,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter.
“As members of Congress – some whose districts are part of the BNSF rail network or home to its employees – we respectfully encourage each party to re-engage in good faith discussions regarding this policy change so that an amicable outcome may be reached.”
In recent weeks, workers and their unions have criticized the policy as a “draconian policy [that] will effectively force COVID-19 positive engineers who fear for their jobs to eschew tests or eschew staying home from work to stop the spread.” In response, the railway company has stated the new policy is consistent with practices across the transportation industry.
“As changes in workplace policies move forward, we respectfully urge all parties to work toward remedying any outstanding concerns that may arise. Full engagement and cooperation are the key to better understanding and will only result in stronger workplace morale,” the lawmakers continued in their letter.
“As this process continues to unfold, we hope each party will remain open to discussing an outcome that works for all.”
BNSF Railway has come under fire repeatedly over the past year for engaging in bad policies that harm not only workers but local communities. In the Town of Cicero, for example, BNSF paved much of their soft-ground property with concrete forcing rainwater to runoff into nearby neighborhoods and cause massive street and home floodings. Click here to read story.