Posts Tagged ‘litigation’

Federal Judge Enjoins Vaccine Mandate

December 8, 2021

A federal judge in Georgia has enjoined the Biden administration from enforcing a COVID-19 vaccine requirement on companies that are federal contractors.

The action of U.S. District Court Judge R. Stan Baker applies nationwide because one of the plaintiffs in the case, the Associated Builders and Contractors, has members throughout the nation.

Some Class 1 railroads, including Norfolk Southern, have cited the contractor mandate in requiring their employees to be vaccinated.

Unions representing workers at those railroads as well as Amtrak and other carriers, have gone to court seeking to block the vaccine rules.

The unions contend vaccine rules are subject to collective bargaining and can’t be imposed unilaterally by the carriers.

Court Consolidates Vaccine Rule Lawsuits

November 24, 2021

A federal court in Illinois has consolidated lawsuits involving Class 1 railroads and their unions over COVID-19 vaccine requirements.

The action was taken by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and involves Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific, BNSF, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen and two other unions.

The Class 1 railroads have cited a federal executive order in requiring their workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccination.

The unions argue that the vaccine edict by the carriers violates the collective bargaining process.

In a related development, unions representing Amtrak workers have filed suit over the passenger’s carrier’s vaccination requirement.

BLET and the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers (SMART-TD) said they generally support vaccination but want Amtrak to engage in collective bargaining over the issue.

The unions claim Amtrak is negotiating directly with employees rather than talking with their unions.

The lawsuit against Amtrak raised many of the same issues as those in the litigation involving NS and UP.

Amtrak is requiring its workers to submit proof of vaccination before Dec. 8. Those workers who have received just dose of the vaccine have until Jan. 4, 2022, to show proof of being full vaccinated.

The carrier has threatened to fire workers who failed to comply with the rules.

2 Unions Sue NS Over Vaccination Rule

November 2, 2021

Two railroad labor unions have sued Norfolk Southern in an effort to halt the Class 1 carrier from imposing a rule requiring workers to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.

The SMART Transportation Division along with the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers filed the suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Chicago Division.

The unions acted after NS filed its own lawsuit seeking to stop unions from suing it over the vaccine rule.

NS has said in public statements that it imposed the vaccination rule due to an executive order issued by President Joseph Biden requiring federal contractors to mandate vaccinations for their employees by Dec. 8.

In their lawsuit, the unions contend that a mandatory vaccine requirement must be negotiated under the Railway Labor Act.

NS, Unions Tussle in Court Over Vaccine Requirement

October 26, 2021

In the wake of imposing a requirement that all of its employees get vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus, Norfolk Southern is suing its labor unions, seeking to overturn their lawsuit contesting the rule.

The Class 1 carrier filed a lawsuit in a federal court in Chicago seeking to block the lawsuit filed by the unions seeking to force NS to engage in collective bargaining over the issue.

NS in its lawsuit contends that the objections of the unions to the vaccine rule should be the subject of arbitration and not litigation.

In imposing the vaccine rule, NS cited an executive order issued by President Joseph Biden requiring federal contractors to require their workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

In its lawsuit, NS asserts a right under its contracts with the unions to require vaccination in order to comply with the executive order.

The legal action being taken by the unions and NS is similar to lawsuits that followed an announcement by Union Pacific that it would require its workers to be vaccinated.

Amtrak has also announced a vaccination requirement for its employees and other Class I railroads are expected to follow suit.

Judge Rules Against RRs in Fuel Surcharge Case

February 23, 2021

Four Class 1 railroads lost their bid to exclude certain evidence from litigation involved fuel surcharges the railroads imposed.

Judge Paul Friedman of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled against the carriers who argued that federal law allowed them to communicate to discuss interline agreements.

However, Judge Friedman said accepting this interpretation of the law in question “would extend its protection to discussions or agreements involving competing traffic,”

The judge said “this interpretation is inconsistent with Congress’s stated purpose to protect limited categories of discussions and agreements that concern interline movements.”

The lawsuit involves more than 200 shippers and names as defendants BNSF, CSX, Norfolk Southern, and Union Pacific.

The suit alleges that the railroads improperly agreed to impose the fuel surcharges starting in 2003.

Pa. High Court Spurns R&N Appeal

February 14, 2021

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court will not hear the appeal of the Reading, Blue Mountain & Northern over the selection process used to choose an operator of five short line rail routes in central Pennsylvania.

R&N had commenced litigation to overturn a decision of the SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority that favored an operator other than R&N to operate the lines.

A lower court had ruled that SEDA-COG was within its rights to eliminate R&N from proposals to operate the five lines.

In its legal briefs, R&N contended that although its bid had been ranked the lowest of those received by SEDA-COG, the process used to rank the bidder had been designed to eliminate R&N from consideration.

Lawsuit Against NS on Hold During Talks

October 15, 2020

A lawsuit against Norfolk Southern by the City of Bluefield, West Virginia, is on hold after the two sides began talks to resolve a dispute over a bridge.

Bluefield said last month it would sue NS over the 2019 closing of the Grant Street Bridge. City officials said closing the bridge cut off a direct route between downtown and the city’s east and north sides.

Mayor Ron Washington said there is no assurance that the talks will result in a satisfactory outcome but “we believe that they (NS) have approached us in good faith.”

The city took steps to initiate litigation, saying NS had failed to meet its obligations to maintain the bridge.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Says 2015 SEDA-COG Contract Vote Constituted Legal Majority

October 6, 2020

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has sided with Carload Express in its contention that the SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority should have awarded it a seven-year contract to operate the agency’s seven rail lines.

In a 6-2 vote the court rejected the contention of the Susquehanna Economic Development Assocation-Council of Governments Joint Rail Authority that its vote in 2015 to award the contract did not constitute a majority of its governing board.

When the vote was taken, all 16 of the board members were present but six of them abstained in the 7-2 vote to award the contract to Carload Express, which is based in Oakmont, Pennsylvania.

SEDA-COG later declined to award the contract, saying that under its bylaws a majority vote would constitute nine affirmative votes.

The court wrote in its opinion that if the agency wanted to require nine votes to award a contract it could have changed its bylaws to state that.

Justice Christine Donohue wrote that in Pennsylvania the law is that a majority constitutes a majority of those voting provided that a quorum is present.

Carload Express had earlier won a lower court ruling directing SEDA-COG to award it the contract to operate the seven rail lines that total 200 miles of track in central and eastern Pennsylvania serving 70 shippers.

The lines are currently operated by Susquehanna Union and Carload of Northumberland, Pennsylvania, which does business as North Shore Railroad.

North Shore’s contract with SEDA-COG expired in 2017 but the authority has allowed it to remain the operator of the lines.

In a lawsuit that is still pending in Clinton County, North Shore argued the vote never should never have been taken.

North Shore cited the “inappropriate actions of a rogue board member” as tainting the vote.

Until all of the litigation surrounding the 2015 vote is resolved, North Shore will continue to operate the SEDA-COG rail lines.

Agency Wants RR Conversations used in Court

July 16, 2020

Discussions among Class 1 railroads about fuel prices should not be excluded from being introduced during litigation involving alleged price fixing the U.S. Department of Justice argued recently in a court filing.

The agency filed a legal brief saying the broad application of law that the railroads are seeking the court to adopt “would exclude critical evidence of antitrust violations.”

The litigation, which dates to 2007, involved dozens of lawsuits filed against BNSF, CSX, Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific.

The lawsuits allege that the railroads coordinated the imposition of fuel surcharges and that conspiracy led to billions of dollars in profit.

The railroads have contended that an obscure federal law protects such conversations among carriers.