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Loved ones of railroaders protest new attendance policy outside federal courthouse during hearing

A federal judge in Fort Worth is expected to make a decision before Tuesday night on whether or not to block the threatened strike by two BNSF Railway unions.

FORT WORTH, Texas — A federal judge in Fort Worth is expected to make a decision before Tuesday night on whether or not to block the threatened strike by two BNSF Railway unions over the new attendance policy.

The Fort Worth-based railroad went to court after the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, and the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation union both threatened to strike over the new policy that is set to go into effect on Feb. 1.

“They want to run the trains. They want to do a good job. But they want to do it safely and be rested when they do it,” Ashley Neal, the wife of a railroader, said.

That new attendance policy is a point system that gives railroaders 30 attendance points. 

Each day of the week is worth a certain amount of points. To take a day off, railroaders lose the point value assigned to that day of the week. If railroaders run out of points, they are disciplined. Points can be earned back by working 14 straight days.

“The way it looks, is it’s a one-way ticket to termination for most railroaders,” said Neal. 

The railroaders threatened to strike over this new policy. On Monday, BNSF Railwaywh, ich is one of the nation's largest, operating almost 33,000 miles of track, asked a federal judge to prevent two of its unions from doing so.

RELATED: BNSF railroad tries to block 17,000 workers from striking 

Neal and other loved ones of railroaders, like Christy Freeman, stood outside the federal courthouse in Fort Worth holding signs.

“They’re going to miss signals. They’re going to fall asleep. They’re not going to be alert. That’s a big deal,” said Freeman.

“We don’t want a strike, I know that. Nobody wants that. We want the policy to be looked at,” said Neal.

In a statement, a BNSF spokesperson wrote: 

"We feel the implementation of this new attendance program is permitted by long-standing past practice, the express and implied terms of our agreements with our unions, arbitral authority, and legal precedent. Therefore, we are asking a federal court to classify our disagreement with the unions over the implementation of this new program as something we can work together to resolve without striking.”

The federal judge is expected to issue a ruling before the end of the day Tuesday. 

“I would settle for just some sort of renegotiation,” said Freeman.