It is likely no secret to most that the rail industry is having difficulty recruiting new employees, and the signal department is no exception.While this committee has often reminded the BNSF of the key to its conundrum (more $$$ and fair treatment) they have fought to the bitter end to prevent that solution.And that is evident by the hiring numbers thus far in 2022.
The shortage of signalmen has been exacerbated by recent resignations. This, among other factors, has caused the Carrier to continually adjust its annual hiring plan upward. However, despite recent efforts, class sizes for assistant signalmen seem to continually shrink. At this point, it will be a small miracle if the most recently announced goal to hire 158 (up from about 130) will be possible for 2022, but the BNSF continues to try, and has scheduled additional hiring classes into December. They have simply refused to agree to the solution to this recruitment problem at the National bargaining table.
Instead, that is where BNSF, through its affiliation with the NCCC, continually refuses to address the long overdue needs of its workforce. It audaciously calls on the same politicians it has for decades insisted should stay out of our industry. In a classic example of duplicity, the NCCC now calls on those same lawmakers to intervene and do just the opposite — regulate the industry through imposing the Carriers’ will on its workforce legislatively!
But that is a story for another article. Suffice to say the BNSF is realizing the reality of its NCCC affiliation where recruitment of signalmen is concerned. When the dust finally settles from our National Agreement, which is in the hands of every BRS member now, this committee intends to make recruitment of quality signalmen a BNSF priority.