With reports that the coronavirus is spreading throughout the U.S., the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) is pressing the rail industry to take action against a potential outbreak.
Specifically, BLET wants the freight and passenger railroads to alter the sick leave policy as detailed in the rail union's labor agreements with their rail employers, and it wants employers to provide stronger cleansers to sanitize workplaces.
In a March 5 letter to the heads of the National Railway Labor Conference (NRLC), which represents the Class I railroads, the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) and the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), BLET President Dennis R. Pierce suggested several actions that the rail industry can take to protect union members and prevent the coronavirus, also identified as COVID-19, from potentially spreading.
Those actions include suspending the attendance policies at the railroads and actively encouraging sick employees to stay home, which BLET says is in accordance with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Employees who show symptoms should stay home until they no longer have a fever for at least 24 hours, Pierce said.