HomeBusinessMass furloughs reported at BNSF railroad operations in four states

Mass furloughs reported at BNSF railroad operations in four states

BNSF Railway has reportedly laid off 362 U.S. employees as a cost-cutting measure, according to the union representing employees. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

BNSF Railway, one of the largest freight railroads in the US, has reportedly laid off hundreds of employees in Kansas, Montana, Nebraska and Texas.

The furloughs were announced Tuesday, with a reported 362 employees losing their jobs, according to the Transportation Trades Department (TTD) of the AFL-CIO, the union that represents workers.

“BNSF Railway has callously announced that it has laid off more than 362 mechanical department positions at various locations across their system,” said Greg Regan, president of the TTD AFL-CIO, in a letter obtained by FreightWaves. “BNSF has said that downsizing these positions was necessary to realign their business operations and respond to the decline in business.”

According to social media posts, BNSF terminal workers have reportedly been laid off at rail terminals in Kansas, Montana, Nebraska and Texas. While TTD AFL-CIO said the furloughs were in the mechanical department, social media posts indicated that positions such as clerks, carmen, pipe fitters and laborers were also affected.

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Fort Worth, Texas-based BNSF, whose total revenue fell 8% year over year to $23.8 billion in 2023, said it is offering transfers and retraining for affected employees.

BNSF representatives issued a statement to FreightWaves regarding the furloughs:

“While the underlying economics are currently unclear, BNSF is pursuing and leveraging growth in several areas. There is an imbalance of employees, with growth in some of our mechanical work groups.

“We have team members at locations in the network where there is not enough work and at the same time too few team members where growth is taking place. Working groups need to be realigned to ensure we have the right people in the right place at the right time to best meet our customers’ current transportation needs and be positioned for future growth.

“BNSF has offered location transfers with incentives targeted to those locations where there are open positions. BNSF has also offered craft transfers to mechanical workers so they can be retrained for other open positions on the BNSF network. There are currently several hundred open mechanical and technical vacancies in our network. Our hope is that through these incentive programs we can redeploy staff so that BNSF continues to grow alongside our customers.”

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Regan said BNSF has informed the union that 150 mechanical jobs will be made available nationwide for laid-off workers to reapply, but that workers may have to relocate and accept lower wages.

“If mechanical workers were to change occupations, they would lose their established seniority … by transferring to new locations, other mechanical trades or maintaining positions in the department,” Regan said. “They would essentially be starting their railroad careers over again, as seniority is the cornerstone of employment within the railroad industry.”

In the wake of the furloughs, the TTD AFL-CIO demanded immediate federal inspections of BNSF locomotives and rail cars.

“We urge the Federal Railroad Administration to immediately conduct unannounced, targeted inspections of all locomotives and railcars owned or leased by BNSF… and further issue orders requiring BNSF to repair any defects before they are allowed to use their locomotives and rail cars,” Regan said. wrote. “We have long been concerned about numerous deficiencies that are being deliberately ignored and neglected by BNSF as managers… are pressured to perform work with an inadequate number of employees. These problems will only be exacerbated by the extreme mechanical cuts to departments implemented by BNSF.”

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BNSF has more than 40,000 employees and operates 52,500 miles of rail transportation across the US.

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The post Mass Furloughs Reported at BNSF Railroad Operations in 4 States appeared first on FreightWaves.

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