Following the meeting in Kansas City at which the "new" absenteeism policy was discussed with the assembled General Chairmen it seemed, for a brief period of time, that a concrete and uniform policy had finally been adopted and operating employees could know exactly where they stood regarding the Carrier's expectations of their availability for service. Documents handed out at that meeting were the basis of the preceding news item on this website concerning the "new" absenteeism policy.
Unfortunately, the information presented at that meeting led to a misunderstanding. Rather than revealing a fixed standard of availability, which is how the presentation was perceived by this General Committee, Carrier officers were merely setting forth their definition of "the worst of the worst" in terms of absenteeism.
As the language in the following letter demonstrates, operating employees are still in the dark concerning availability levels expected of them and may become liable for discipline for exceeding parameters that are vague and ill-defined. Essentially, management can't, or won't, tell you what "full time employee" means, but you will be notified when you are, in their subjective view, not one.
This refers to our discussions in Kansas City, Missouri, on March 2, 2004, regarding Union Pacific Railroad Company's Attendance Policy. The purpose of this letter is to clarify a misconception regarding that policy.
That misconception is based on a belief that the long-standing fundamental tenet of Union Pacific's Attendance Policy - that all employees will be full-time employees -has been replaced by the criteria used to identify the worst offenders of the Attendance Policy. This belief is incorrect and does not in any way reflect the content of our discussions in Kansas City. Any employee who uses any attendance standard other than "full-time" is in violation of Union Pacific's Attendance Policy and subject to discipline.
As a reminder, the criteria discussed in Kansas City are the standards currently being used to identify the "worst of the worst' employees with respect to attendance. It is only for the purpose of identifying those "worst of the worst' that the criteria we discussed in Kansas City is being used. The criteria do not by any measure create or serve as a threshold for determining who is in compliance with the Attendance Policy. There are many employees not identified through application of these criteria who are not in compliance with Union Pacific's Attendance Policy and, as mentioned earlier, they too are subject to disciplinary action. Moreover, it is important to remind everyone this criteria can and will be revised as needed to facilitate and enhance our focus and efforts on identifying those who are not fulfilling their obligations as full-time employees of Union Pacific.
I trust this explanation sets the record straight as to the proper application of Union Pacific's Attendance Policy. Any counsel to your constituency to the contrary is misguided. Specifically, any counsel that the current "worst of the worst" criteria discussed in Kansas City establishes a threshold attendance level different from "full-time" could result in disciplinary action toward a constituent.
In conclusion, I ask that a copy of this letter be forwarded to your local officers in order to ensure they properly understand the purpose and workings of Union Pacific's Attendance Policy, including our use of the evaluation criteria. A copy of this letter is also being provided to all Union Pacific officers involved in the administration of the Attendance Policy. If you have any additional questions regarding this policy, please feel free to contact your Labor Relations Director, Scott Hinckley (402-271-2339) or me at your convenience.
A. Terry Olin