Posts Tagged ‘COVID-19 vaccine’

NS Requiring COVID-19 Vaccinations for Employees

October 21, 2021

Norfolk Southern told its employees on Wednesday that they must be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus by Dec. 8.

In a memorandum sent to employees, NS said the move is in reaction to an executive order issued by President Joseph Biden and various related guidelines requiring federal contractors to require vaccinations for all employees.

The memo noted that NS is a federal contractor because it handles shipments of military vehicles and jet fuel for the U.S. Department of Defense.

NS is the second Class 1 railroad to announce an employee vaccine mandate. Union Pacific said on Oct. 13 it was requiring vaccinations by Dec. 8.

The mandates have draw opposition from three railroad labor unions, which are threatening work stoppages if the mandates are not rescinded.

The unions are the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers; the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen; and the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees.

UP and the unions have both filed lawsuits over the vaccine mandate.

Railway Age columnist Frank Wilner wrote on the trade journal’s website that the unions are not directly opposing mandatory vaccinations but demanding that UP collectively bargain such a result.

The unions want the railroads to give their members additional pay for becoming vaccinated.

The text of the NS memo can be read at

Amtrak to Require Worker Vaccinations by Nov. 22

September 23, 2021

Amtrak said this week it will require all employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Nov. 22 with all new hires facing an Oct. 4 vaccination deadline.

The passenger carrier said the rule changes are consistent with a recent executive order for federal employees.

That order does not allow for a voluntary testing alternative except for those who have obtained an exemption for medical or religious accommodation reasons.

Amtrak said the vaccination mandate also will apply to “red badge” contractors and others who regularly work at an Amtrak worksite.

The company has rescheduled its “Return to Worksites” date to Jan. 10, 2022.

“Given that our vaccination mandate is now late November, we feel it makes sense to postpone this return until after the holidays,” Amtrak officials said in the news release. “[Our] worksites remain open for anyone who wants to return sooner.”

Amtrak Gives Incentives to Employees to Get COVID-19 Vaccine

February 3, 2021

Amtrak is offering financial incentives to its workers to get a COVID-19 vaccine injection in an effort to get its workforce immunized.

The incentives include pay, benefit extensions and excused absences.

The pay benefit is an allowance equal to two hours of straight-time wages for those who receive the vaccine shot during scheduled work hours.

Protected pay will be offered to those who miss work because of vaccination side effects.

If those side effects last more than 48 hours, Amtrak will continue to protect pay as long as medical documentation is provided.

Transit Workers May be 2nd Priority for CVOID-19 Vaccine

December 23, 2020

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended giving public transit workers the COVID-19 vaccine during the second phase of immunizations that are expected to begin next month.

That would place transit workers into the second priority group of front line essential workers.

The first round of vaccinations began last week and largely involved health care workers.

In an unrelated development, a union representing workers at the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority said the agency’s COVID-19 policies create disincentives for workers to follow health and safety guidelines.

In a news release, Local 234 of the Transport Workers Union said SEPTA has mandated that if a third period of COVID-19 related quarantine is required, a worker would have to use his or her own leave and earn half-pay.

SEPTA provides paid leave to TWU members who have been exposed to the virus or presumed to have been exposed, but TWU officials said the policy may push workers struggling financially who have exhausted their paid leave to return to work while still potentially contagious or sick.

The union unsuccessfully sought to bring the issue up during a Dec. 15 meeting between SEPTA managers and union officials but, the union said, the managers declined to discuss the matter.

“We want everyone who is a possible risk to riders and coworkers to stay away,” said TWU Local 234 President Willie Brown.

“We should be creating incentives to be under quarantine, not disincentives. SEPTA is trying to save a buck because ridership is down, but making the workforce and riders sick won’t help the bottom line.”

Eight members of TWU 234 have died from COVID-19 and more than 400 have been infected, union officials said. 

In the latest statement TWU said it is considering legal action if SEPTA does not change its policies.

A SEPTA official told The Philadelphia Inquirer that fewer than 160 employees have used all 160 hours available for sick leave and that a legal battle is “the last thing” the agency wants.

Transportation Trade Groups Seek Priority in COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution

December 18, 2020

Trade groups representing railroad workers, public transit agencies and companies that supply the railroad industry are trying to pressure government officials to give some of their workers priority in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine that is now being distributed.

Among those writing letters to federal and state officials have been the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association, the Association of American Railroads, the American Public Transportation Association and the Railway Supply Institute.

Trade groups representing various other modes of transportation have also sought priority for their workers.

The groups are citing  a guideline of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices that essential workers, including those in transportation, be included in the second priority group or Phase 1b of the vaccine distribution.

Highest priority (Phase 1a) is being given to health care workers and others such as those working in nursing homes.

Some of the letters being written by the transportation trade associations have been sent senators on the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and Transportation and Safety Subcommittee to request “timely access” to the vaccine.

APTA has written to all state governors “urging them to consider prioritizing transit workers as they develop their vaccination distribution plans.”

In its statement, RSI said those working for railway suppliers should be among the early recipient groups vaccine because of their supporting role for passenger and freight railroads “as they deliver people, food, fuel, medicine, and other supplies that have sustained our nation’s pandemic response and economic recovery.”