The Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen is focused on worker safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. “The primary concern with the COVID-19 pandemic is the health and safety of all our brothers and sisters and their families”, says BRS President Jerry Boles. “There is nothing more important.”
To that end, it has joined forces with other rail labor organizations, including the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) and the Transport Workers Union of America (TWU), to petition the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to require furloughed employees to be recalled before it offers waivers from “safety-critical regulations”, that are in jeopardy due to a labor shortage in the industry.
“As the FRA is aware, over the course of the past several years, freight rail carriers have furloughed thousands of highly qualified employees across all crafts,” the group stated in its letter to the FRA. "… If a carrier finds itself short on active employees, its first option must be found in the abundant supply of out of work railroaders, not in administrative intervention to be exempted from safety-critical regulations.”
Additionally, the union is calling for the following:
- Suspension of attendance policies and disciplinary action for workers who call in sick.
- Paid sick leave for employees out with COVID-19.
- Implementation of sanitation measures in the workplace.
- COVID-19 testing, coverage and treatment for all employees.
- The halt of sequestration for Railroad Retirement unemployment and sickness benefits.
- Suspension of the seven-day waiting period for those benefits.
Founded in 1901, the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS), a member of the AFL-CIO and the Transportation Trades Department, represents more than 10,000 workers across the U.S. and Canada. What started as a trade union for railroad signaling workers has evolved into an organization representing workers who install and maintain signal systems for the continent’s freight and passenger and commuter railroads. The BRS has offices across the country with headquarters in Front Royal, Virginia.