Threatening a union strike in North Dakota is like...

Actually, North Dakotans aren't too familiar with what that would be like.

Over 17 thousand Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) union railroad workers including a great many in North Dakota are positioning themselves to go on strike over the railroad's proposed attendance policy.  For the uninitiated North Dakotans that may be reading this article, a strike is an organized protest generally used to protest what employees feel to be some type of unfair policies or behavior that negatively affects staff as a whole.  You've probably seen them in movies or on TV.

Usually, there are signs

Coca-Cola Workers Go On Strike
Getty Images

Often someone has a megaphone!

Dmytro Vyshnevskyi
Dmytro Vyshnevskyi

Megaphones are fun to use.  The best megaphoners come up with catchy phrases that usually center around...

"What do we want?"

Striking workers then yell the thing that they want.

Then, you ask the crowd "When do we want it?"

The most accepted answer is "Now"!

Strikes are generally staged by a group of workers called a "union".  As a show of solidarity, union members can often be seen wearing the same color clothing

20,000 AT&T Workers Across The Southeast Go On Strike Over Unfair Labor Practices
Getty Images

So that's pretty much how I understand it from the TV.  Now I understand that union members living here in North Dakota may be soon staging a strike against their employer Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad because of a dopey new policy the dopes at BNSF want to implement.  So a strike seems imminent.

 "What Do They Want?!"

BNSF workers want to use the time off they've earned without being penalized.

Introducing BNSF's proposed "Hi Viz" policy which is set to be enacted on February 1st.

The new attendance policy, "Hi-Viz," gives employees a total of 30 points for the rest of their careers, but employees are docked points for days taken off outside of allocated vacation days. 

Taking off Monday-Thursday docks two points, Friday-Saturday is four points, Sunday is three points and a holiday is seven points. BNSF considered holidays to be any high-impact days, one worker explained. They include typical holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, but also Super Bowl Sunday, Father's and Mother's Days and Valentine's Day.

With so many jobs these days, being able to take your earned time-off is pretty darn difficult. In lieu of salary increases, employee benefits are offered to provide other incentives to join their company.  But if the time you offer employees actually becomes a penalty to their work status and may eventually lead to their termination,  it may not technically be "a benefit".

An engineer told AP News employees would now have to be available 90% of the time

So many times benefits are offered to potential employees with the spin that an employee's time is valuable when in fact that time seems to be expendable- as do the BNSF employees as well.  They'll give you the personal time off, but heck if they expect you to use it...

The only way to earn points back is by working 14 days in a row. However, points can never exceed 30. If a worker were to drop below zero, he said there would be disciplinary action.

"If you do that three times, you get to zero. It's progressive discipline No. 1, 10 days off. Progressive discipline No. 2, 20 days off. Third progressive discipline could be termination," he said. "Each time you hit zero, you go back to 15 … You don't get your 30 points back."

Without question, railroads need a reliable workforce.  BNSF operates 32,500 miles of track in 28 states and three Canadian provinces. It runs an average of 1,200 trains per day

That is...until it all comes to a screeching halt due in part to a strike by workers right here in North Dakota.

Bowling strike - ball hitting pins in the alley 3d render

Not sure if the whole "union strike" concept ever really sank in...

But they best get it fixed!  There's much in North Dakota that rides on those rails.

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