DISTRICT COURT DENIES SMART-TD, BLET BID TO HALT METRA VACCINE MANDATE
PUBLISHED: JANUARY 7, 2022
CLEVELAND, Ohio (January 7) — On January 6, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, ruled against the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART-TD) and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET), denying the unions’ preliminary injunction motions to stop Metra’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
The unions took the position that Metra had no authority to unilaterally implement and enforce a COVID vaccination mandate among its employees without the required bargaining pursuant to the Railway Labor Act (RLA). The unions contended that by failing to negotiate the terms of implementation, Metra violated the status quo requirement and, in turn, engaged in a major dispute. The court ruled in favor of Metra, finding the matter to be a minor dispute. The court also rejected the unions’ alternative argument that the mandate should be put on hold while the Adjustment Board decided the dispute.
SMART-TD and BLET are engaged in similar lawsuits to halt vaccination mandates on other rail carriers, including BNSF Railway (BNSF), Norfolk Southern (NS), and Union Pacific (UP).
“Needless to say we are disappointed in the outcome of this lawsuit, especially considering other federal judges blocked vaccine mandates,” SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson and BLET President Dennis Pierce said. “We will continue to fight to protect the rights of our members during these historically difficult times.”