Cases & Deals

BNSF obtains ruling by Ninth Circuit affirming victory in dispute with union over freight service

Clients BNSF Railway Company

The Ninth Circuit upheld Jones Day's successful defense of BNSF Railway Company against a union attempt to enjoin implementation of new rail freight service. The dispute involved changes to the way employees are called to work. The union argued that these changes presented so-called "major" disputes under the Railway Labor Act ("RLA"), which must be resolved by negotiation under the Act and cannot be unilaterally implemented by the carrier. The Western District of Washington denied the injunction, finding that the disagreement was a "minor" dispute subject to mandatory arbitration under the RLA. The Court agreed with BNSF that the proposed changes are "arguably justified" by the parties' existing collective bargaining agreements, and therefore held that the carrier is allowed to proceed with the new freight service. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the ruling of the lower court in all respects.

International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, Transportation Division v. BNSF Railway Company, No. 15-35747 (9th Cir.); International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, Transportation Division v. BNSF Railway Company, No. 15-cv-01270 (W.D. Wash.)

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