By Marilee Taylor
CHICAGO, February 10, 2022—My name is Marilee Taylor. I am currently a locomotive engineer, employed at the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF) in Chicago. I have worked for Burlington Northern (BN) and then BNSF for more than 28 years. I’d like to take a minute to introduce the video posted below.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
On February 1 of this year, BNSF imposed a draconian attendance policy on those of us who work in the operating crafts, engineers, conductors, switchmen and brakemen. That is, those of us who actually move the freight on trains across the country from Chicago to the West Coast and back. We are members of two unions, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) and the Sheet Metal Air Rail Transportation TD (formerly known as the United Transportation Union, now SMART TD).
The video below explains the cruel and severe nature of BNSF’s new policy. In the face of this new attack, our memberships voted, respectively 100% and 99.5%, to go on strike over this issue. A federal judge in Texas sided with the BNSF and granted a wide-ranging Temporary Restraining Order to the railroad that enjoins every single one of us, not only from striking, but also from any other job action to defend ourselves and protect our rights. This undemocratic anti-union ruling also enjoins us from discussing the matter in any way! The judicial language directs against “encouraging or promoting” any job action in our own defense.
This video is produced by More Perfect Union, which also posts other news on union issues of interest to working people on YouTube. Featured here is an interview with Ron Kaminkow, a locomotive engineer at Amtrak in Reno, Nevada, and the General Secretary of Railroad Workers United (RWU). RWU describes itself as “an inter-union, cross-craft solidarity ‘caucus’ of railroad workers, and their supporters, from all crafts, all carriers, and all unions across North America.” https://www.railroadworkersunited.org
The video helps us to get the truth out about the issues involved and the dangers of the forced BNSF’s attendance policy aimed at denying railroad (RR) operating employees, who already often work 60 hours a week or more, any quality of life at all. Most importantly the video focuses on how this policy will dangerously affect our own safety as workers, and the safety of all our communities. The BNSF is not the only RR that seeks to impose such draconian policies. The risk of more rail accidents and potential disasters affects the entire country.
Marilee Taylor is a locomotive engineer and member of BLET Division 32, based in Aurora, Illinois.
Categories: Labor Movement / Trade Unions