Union Pacific and its unions sue over vaccine | Transport News
The lawsuit centers on whether the Nebraska-based railroad company has the right to demand that its workers get vaccinated.
Union Pacific and its unions are suing each other to determine whether the railroad has the power to require its employees to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.
The unions argue that the Omaha, Nebraska-based railroad should have negotiated with them before announcing it would require all employees to be vaccinated. The Railroad is arguing in its own lawsuit that it believes it has the power to require the vaccine under its existing contracts because it can set standards to determine when employees are fit for work.
Union Pacific announced this month that it will require all employees to be vaccinated by Dec. 8 to comply with an executive order from President Joe Biden requiring all federal contractors to vaccinate their employees. The railroad also offers its unionized employees a bonus of $ 300 if they get vaccinated. Non-union railway workers are offered a half-day vacation if they are vaccinated.
On the same day the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers Union – Transportation Division, or SMART-TD, filed its complaint against the railroad, Union Pacific filed its own complaint. Friday against SMART-TD and two other unions who opposed the vaccination mandate to force the issue.
“This action is necessary to avoid disruption to the national rail network and to avoid any impact on the US supply chain as it continues to recover from the pandemic,” said the Union Pacific spokesperson. , Kristen South, in a statement.
Vaccination mandates from governments and other companies have generated resistance in various workplaces.
The railroad told employees they would be medically disqualified under their contracts rather than fired if they did not receive the shots.
But the unions said Union Pacific was unfairly changing their terms of employment without negotiating as necessary.
“We also recognize the severity of the pandemic, but this does not allow the carrier to institute an arbitrary policy, which will have a dramatic effect on the current working conditions at Union Pacific Railroad,” SMART-TD officials said in a letter to the railway. frames.
The other unions that opposed the mandate were the Brotherhood of Track Maintenance Unit of the International Teamsters and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen.
The engineers’ union told the railroad that many people across the country are reluctant to get the vaccine.
“The transporter should certainly be aware that there is a substantial division in this country when it comes to COVID-19 vaccination,” BLET union officials wrote to the railroad. “Also, it is not surprising that many of our members oppose the requirement to be vaccinated, for various reasons, when many have already been vaccinated.”
Union Pacific is one of the largest railroads in the country. it operates 52,000 kilometers (32,400 miles) of track in 23 western states.