BNSF, BMWED Ratify Paid Sick Leave Deal

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
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The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division-International Brotherhood of Teamsters (BMWED) on Oct. 31 reported ratifying an agreement with BNSF that includes paid sick days.

BNSF will provide four paid sick days annually to every qualifying maintenance-of-way employee, plus three paid personal days can be used as paid sick time off, according to BMWED. If a BMWED member does not use the entirety of their entitled paid sick leave, the union noted, they can either contribute it to their 401(k) contributions through BNSF’s retirement program or cash it out for straight time wage.

According to BMWED, across the AT&SFF, Burlington, and Burlington Northern System Federations, a total of 3,355 members returned ballots with 2,987 ratifying the deal, an approval rate of 89%.

When the tentative agreement was announced in September, BNSF said that it built on existing paid time off and sickness benefits and was part of “larger discussions about modernizing the work environment.” The Class I railroad has now negotiated paid sick day and work modernization agreements with all 12 labor unions that represent its employees.

In September, BMWED Northwest Vice President Staci Moody-Gilbert said that the agreement had taken “a lot of hard work and diligence from the membership and notably from the four General Chairmen on the property and I want to thank them for their steadfast commitment to seeing this across the finish line.” Moody-Gilbert, a 2022 Railway Age Women in Rail honoree who will be speaking Nov. 2 at the 2023 Railway Age / RT&S Women in Rail conference, added: “This is obviously a great success for our union, and I am glad that BNSF recognized the importance of this issue. Our members can now take time to properly address health issues as they arise without worry of financial repercussions. This agreement brings BNSF in line with the other Class I carriers who have entered into similar agreements and is a welcomed development. I congratulate the General Chairmen and the membership for obtaining this victory.”

In a related development, BNSF and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen on Aug. 1 reported agreeing to a tentative deal on paid sick leave and other work/rest options for approximately 7,500 railroaders.

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