BNSF and BRS Agreement: The Benefits for Rail Workers
BNSF Railway (BNSF) and the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS) recently signed a new five-year agreement, effective January 1, 2020, regarding wages, benefits, working conditions, and job security. The agreement covers more than 1,500 signalmen and signal maintainers who work for BNSF in the United States.
The agreement provides wage increases, maintains health care and retirement benefits, and addresses safety and fatigue issues. Signalmen and signal maintainers play a critical role in ensuring the safety and efficiency of railroad operations. They are responsible for installing, maintaining, and repairing signal systems that govern train movements and protect workers and the public.
The agreement also includes provisions for addressing the impact of new technology on signal work, such as automated track inspection systems and positive train control. BNSF and BRS have committed to working together to ensure that these new tools are implemented safely and effectively while preserving jobs and maintaining high-quality signal service.
The agreement also includes language establishing a joint labor-management committee to address issues related to fatigue and rest. Fatigue is a serious concern for railroad workers, who must often work long and irregular hours to ensure that trains operate on time. By working together, BNSF and BRS aim to identify and address factors that contribute to fatigue and develop effective solutions that improve safety and well-being.
One of the key benefits of the agreement is job security. The contract includes provisions for protecting jobs and ensuring that BNSF does not outsource signal work to non-union contractors. This is important not only for signal workers but also for the communities where they live and work, as good-paying union jobs support local economies and provide stability for families.
Overall, the BNSF and BRS agreement is a positive development for rail workers and the railroad industry as a whole. By working together, labor and management can address the challenges facing the industry, improve safety and working conditions, and ensure that rail remains a vital and competitive mode of transportation.