As you are surely aware, employers across the United States are mandating that employees be vaccinated against Covid-19 within the next few weeks. The rail industry is no different. As of October 2021, several carriers have established vaccination mandates and we expect many other railroads to follow.
Providing a safe and healthy workplace is one of TCU’s top priorities. In that regard, I encourage every member who is able to be vaccinated to do so. The impact of this virus is far reaching and severe. Unfortunately, many of you have already experienced that in your own families and workplaces. Sadly, my office has received notification of forty-eight TCU/IAM members who have passed away due to Covid-19. The loss of life of so many members and the grief their families have endured weighs heavily upon the leadership of this Union.
I have heard from some members who want to know how TCU/IAM plans to fight against the Carriers’ vaccine requirements. I understand the opposition to the Carriers’ harsh stance in requiring the vaccine. However, the Carriers are allowed to impose these mandates under the law. It would be dishonest for me to lead you to believe otherwise.
Sisters and Brothers, I will not mislead you by telling you we can succeed in challenging these mandates in court or that an arbitrator is likely to reinstate a member who has failed to comply with a vaccine mandate.
TCU/IAM representatives will continue to enforce our Collective Bargaining Agreements. This includes representing any member who is disciplined or terminated for not getting the vaccine or for failing to obtain a reasonable accommodation by the deadline. We will not allow the Carrier to violate our Collectively Bargained Agreements and we will ensure that our members are treated fairly and in accordance with the law.
Just as we have encouraged vaccines, we have also encouraged our members who believe they are exempted from the vaccine mandate to seek religious or medical accommodations and to go through that process in accordance with Carrier and EEOC policies.
We continue to receive various questions about the legalities of requiring a vaccine as well as inquiries about obtaining a religious or medical exemption. In that regard, I requested TCU/IAM’s General Counsel to provide a summary of the most common discussion points. That memo is attached to this letter.
I fully recognize that these are difficult and divisive times. We continue to endure a pandemic that has wreaked havoc on our industry. I am tremendously proud of TCU’s members for your resilience, your bravery and your dedication to your jobs throughout this unprecedented time. We will continue to work diligently to ensure that every member has a safe work place.
Click here to read the letter including the FAQ’s.