7061 East Pleasant Valley Road, Independence, Ohio 44131 • (216) 241-2630 / Fax: (216) 241-6516

News and Issues
User Info

BLET, SMART-TD suit seeks immediate halt to BNSF and Metra vaccine mandates

CLEVELAND, Ohio, December 3 — The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) and the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers (SMART-TD) have filed motions for preliminary injunctions, seeking to immediately halt unilaterally implemented vaccine mandates imposed by Metra commuter rail and BNSF Railway, and require the carriers to negotiate over the issue.

Through the motions, the BLET and SMART-TD seek to restore and preserve the status quo that was in place prior to the implementation of the mandates.

These suits are in addition to the counterclaims BLET and SMART-TD filed against the carriers last month. As background, BNSF on November 7, 2021, and Metra on November 8, 2021, filed suits against the BLET and SMART-TD, among other unions, seeking a declaration from the Courts that their unilaterally implemented vaccine mandates concerned a so-called “minor dispute” subject to arbitration on the grounds that it involves a matter of interpretation of the parties’ existing collective bargaining agreements. The carriers also sought orders prohibiting the BLET and SMART-TD from striking, picketing, and taking other job actions in protest of the mandate.

BLET and SMART-TD answered and counterclaimed on November 12, 2021, alleging, among other things, that the carriers’ unilaterally implemented vaccine mandates are a direct violation of the Railway Labor Act. The carriers made no effort to bargain with the unions over their vaccine mandates, or the effects of those mandates, despite the fact that the parties have long been engaged in negotiations for successor agreements, and that all parties have a duty to maintain the status quo in working conditions during such negotiations.

The BLET and SMART-TD are actively embroiled in similar lawsuits with three other rail carriers: Amtrak, Norfolk Southern (NS), and Union Pacific (UP). The litigation is pending in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce and SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson said two federal judges recently blocked enforcement of vaccine mandates.

In related activity, U.S. District Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove in Frankfort, Kentucky, blocked enforcement of the regulation that new government contracts must include clauses requiring that contractors’ employees get vaccinated. BLET and SMART-TD will continue to monitor the case to determine if there is any impact on rail carriers.

President Pierce and President Ferguson issued the following joint statement: “The language contained in the Railway Labor Act is clear cut, and the carriers’ unilateral implementation of their vaccine mandates without negotiating with the union is a direct violation of the Railway Labor Act. We will continue to stand up for the rights of our members.”


The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen represents nearly 57,000 professional locomotive engineers and trainmen throughout the United States. The BLET is the founding member of the Rail Conference, International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

The SMART Transportation Division is comprised of approximately 125,000 active and retired members of the former United Transportation Union, who work in a variety of crafts in the transportation industry.

Friday, December 3, 2021

Like us on Facebook at

Sign up for BLET News Flash Alerts

© 1997-2022 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen


Decertification Helpline
(216) 694-0240

National Negotiations

ND Officers Election Rules

Sign up for BLET
News Flash Alerts


Rail traffic down for 3rd straight week to kick off 2022
Norfolk Southern’s Q4 2021 profit up 13% on higher rates
TCI’s railroading tactics
Hoffa: Teamsters laud the America Competes Act
LA-LV high-speed rail makes progress
UP bumps up security after cargo thefts near LA rail yard
RRB Q&A: Annuitants may need to increase tax withholding at age 62
COVID-19 vaccine mandates and Unemployment and Sickness Benefits under the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act (RUIA)
Get the latest labor news from the Teamsters

More Headlines