Union Pacific, BNSF pause COVID-19 vaccine mandate after court ruling

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REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

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Dec 9 (Reuters) - U.S. railroad operators Union Pacific Corp (UNP.N) and BNSF Railway said on Thursday they were suspending their COVID-19 vaccine mandate for their employees, two days after a judge blocked the Biden administration's inoculation rule for federal contractors.

Union Pacific said 73% of its 31,000 employees were fully vaccinated as of Dec. 8, adding that it was still encouraging workers to report their vaccination status and get inoculated.

The company and its unions have filed lawsuits against each other after the Nebraska-based railroad made COVID-19 vaccines compulsory under a rule issued by U.S. President Joe Biden for federal contractors. read more

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Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc-owned (BRKa.N) BNSF said it was pausing its implementation of the federal mandate for its about 35,000 employees, adding that its stance remained that the decision to be vaccinated is a personal one.

The rule required contractors to have employees vaccinated by Dec. 8 but that date was later extended to Jan. 18. The order applied to newly awarded contracts, although the government has been asking suppliers to agree to amend existing contracts to insert the vaccine requirement.

On Tuesday, a U.S. District Court judge in Georgia blocked that rule, saying the federal government exceeded its authority. read more

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Reporting by Ashwini Raj and Abhijith Ganapavaram in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.

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