September 29, 2023

BNSF and train conductors union reach work scheduling deal


Western U.S. Class I railroad BNSF and the union representing train conductors have reached a systemwide agreement on work scheduling.

BNSF (NYSE: BRK-B) said the agreement with the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, Transportation Division (SMART-TD) “goes well beyond” the mandatory local bargaining items recommended by the Presidential Emergency Board, a three-member independent panel brought in last summer by President Joe Biden and the unions when contract negotiations hit an impasse.

While details of the agreement weren’t mentioned, BNSF said the agreement allows for more predictable scheduling, while also providing all ground service employees to take paid sick days. There will be rest days available to all pool and extra board employees, and there are other quality-of-work/life changes in the agreement. This agreement will help maintain consistent service for BNSF customers while also helping in the company’s recruiting and retention efforts, according to the railway. 

The agreement, which is pending ratification by SMART-TD members at BNSF, came after several months of negotiations, BNSF said. 

“The cooperation between SMART-TD and BNSF marks an important step forward in supporting the well-being and satisfaction of these employees, ensuring a more balanced and efficient work environment,” BNSF said in a Thursday statement. 

BNSF’s agreement with SMART-TD comes as competitor Union Pacific (NYSE: UNP) also reached a scheduling agreement earlier this year with another large union, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen. That agreement called for a schedule of 11 days on and four days off, with expectations that the agreement would not only provide more predictable schedules for employees but also enable UP to better manage staffing levels. 

Norfolk Southern (NYSE: NSC) also reached a scheduling agreement with SMART-TD this past spring.

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