Four States Have Reported Mass Furloughs At BNSF Railway Operations

One of the biggest freight railroads in the country, BNSF Railway, is said to have placed hundreds of its workers on furlough in Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, and Texas.

The Transportation Trades Department (TTD) in conjunction with the AFL-CIO, the transportation labor federation that represents American rail unions and workers, said that 362 workers had lost their employment as a result of the furloughs, which were announced on Tuesday.

Greg Regan, president of the TTD AFL-CIO, stated in a letter acquired by FreightWaves that “BNSF Railway callously announced it has furloughed over 362 mechanical department positions at numerous locations across their system.” According to BNSF, cutting these employment was essential to responding to a drop in business and realigning with their operations.

Posts on social media claim that BNSF terminal employees were furloughed at train terminals in Texas, Kansas, Montana, and Nebraska. Although the TTD AFL-CIO claimed that the mechanical department was the target of the furloughs, posts on social media suggested that other positions, including laborers, clerks, carmen, and pipe fitters, were also impacted.

For affected personnel, Fort Worth, Texas-based BNSF, which reported total revenue of $23.8 billion in 2023, an 8% year-over-year reduction, is offering transfers and retraining.

Regarding the furloughs, BNSF executives delivered a statement to FreightWaves.

Even though the underlying economy is now unclear, BNSF is actively seeking and seizing development in a number of sectors. There is an imbalance in our workforce, with some of our mechanical work groups experiencing growth.

We have employees in parts of the network where there isn’t enough work, and we also don’t have enough employees where growth is taking place. In order to best meet our clients’ present transportation needs and position ourselves for future expansion, work groups must be readjusted to guarantee that the appropriate people are in the right place at the right time.

“BNSF has provided incentives for location transfers that are specifically aimed at locations with available jobs. In order to retrain mechanical staff for other available positions within the BNSF network, BNSF has also given craft transfers. On our network, there are several hundred available engineering and mechanical jobs right now. Our goal is to use these incentive schemes to reallocate staff so that BNSF can keep expanding alongside its clientele.

Regan added that BNSF has informed the union that 150 mechanical jobs will be reopened around the nation for furloughed workers to reapply. However, these positions may involve relocation and a reduction in compensation.

“Switching crafts would result in the loss of established seniority for mechanical employees. This could apply to new locations, different mechanical crafts, or maintenance of way department positions,” Regan stated. “Because seniority is the foundation of employment prospects in the railroad industry, they would be essentially beginning their railroad careers over.”

Following the furloughs, the TTD AFL-CIO required BNSF locomotives and rail carriages to undergo expedited federal inspections.

“We implore the Federal Railroad Administration to carry out focused, unannounced inspections of all locomotives and rail cars owned and leased by BNSF immediately. and additionally, issue orders of non-compliance mandating that BNSF make any necessary repairs before being allowed to use its locomotives and rail cars,” Regan said. “We have long-standing concerns about multiple defects that BNSF is purposefully ignoring and neglecting due to managers’ pressure to complete tasks with an insufficient number of workers.” The drastic department layoffs that BNSF implemented in the mechanical division will only make these issues worse.

By Caleb Anderson

Caleb, a seasoned journalist with a passion for storytelling, has dedicated his career to bringing the latest news to the public. With a keen eye for detail and a commitment to unbiased reporting, He navigates the dynamic world of journalism, covering a wide range of topics from local events to global issues. Caleb's insightful articles reflect his dedication to keeping readers informed and engaged in the ever-evolving landscape of news.

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