WACO, Texas — The spouses of BNSF railroaders protested at the Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meetings in Omaha, Nebraska on Saturday.
Kelly Pettus, a spouse we have interviewed before, traveled from San Antonio to Omaha.
“We want shareholders to understand and want them to support us so that as they’re earning profits, we’re getting the raises we deserve and attendance policies that aren’t inhumane," she said. "That’s the issue, we want them to know we’re being subjected to these horrible policies in the name of profit."
BNSF implemented a new policy where employees are given a point-system for attendance.
Employees and their spouses claim it's an inhumane system and it makes it impossible to take any unexpected time off. They also claim the crews are being thinned out and scheduling has become an issue.
In a statement to 6 News on Sunday, BNSF said:
"The attendance policy we implemented in February, known as HiViz, is designed to improve the consistency of crews being available for their shifts to run trains which in turn drives service consistency and reliability for our customers while also improving predictability and transparency for our crews around when they will go to work. We understand that change is hard but, as with every other railroad and service business, delivering for our customers requires employees to be available to work their assigned shifts.
There has been no change in how much time off an employee receives. More than 50% of train crew employees work less than 40 hours a week on average. Generally, train crew employees have over 3 to 4 weeks of paid vacation and over 10 Personal Leave Days. The number of Personal Leave Days was increased by 25% this year which makes it easier for employees to take time off. Since starting HiViz, we have seen more planned vacation days taken than before the change. Employees can't work more than 6 days in a row under federal law. Time off between each shift averages around 24 hours and since the attendance policy was implemented, we have seen that increase."
Spouses like Pettus claim that this is not the case and that her husband has already been penalized twice since the policy went into effect when there was a medical emergency and a planned vacation.
She says she knows the issue won't be solved overnight, but wants the company, lawmakers and Americans to understand that railroaders do not feel like they are being treated fairly.
“This has definitely impacted our family, far more than I expected it to," she said.
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